Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Communication and finding... peace, not Nemo.

I was watching Finding Nemo with two of my children on Sunday morning. We watched it with a different intent than we have in the past. You see, my youngest children are 9 and 11, so they are well beyond the years that would "oh" and "ah" over the movie. However, since it is a pretty good flick, we enjoyed watching it from the standpoint of, "Oh yea, remember this scene!" or, "I love this next scene!"

When Marlin started to tell his story of traversing the Big Blue in search of Nemo and the story was told over and over until it finally reached Nemo, recall two lobsters were telling it and the one said regarding the fish Marlin and Dory had to fight off when the mask fell deep into the trench:
"It was wicked dark down there..."
- it made something jingle in my head in relation to mental health.

Before you ask, yes, this is why I call this site My DBT Life, because I find these skills need to be embedded everywhere in your life in order for effective, mentally healthful living to be forth coming - even in a children's animated movies! :)

So, what was it about this scene?

Well, did the lobsters mean that the place that Marlin and Dory fought the fish was evil and dark? No, not at all, in fact for anyone who saw the movie, they recall the screen going black it was so dark, deep in the trench, but when the characters finally did see light, they felt happy and calm. Until of course they saw who was attached to the light!

Anyways, the point is, when the lobsters were retelling this part, why did he say wicked? We all of course know the answer, due to this characters location, where he grew up, his influences in life and the culture of the area in which he lives, the use of the word wicked means "total" or "absolute." We see this in real life often.

Depending on where we live, if we order "a coffee" it either comes black or with cream and sugar, simply by using those same words. We could spend all day listing varying words and phrases that are common in urban language and to a specific area. My point is, if this is so easily and readily accepted, then it would be quite reasonable to accept this is true of you and the people you communicate with on a daily basis too.

While the gulf won't be so grand as calling a shopping cart a buggy from one side of the US to the other, when it is within your own circle of friends and family, it is even more important to give wiggle room for various ways of differing communication. I recently had a discussion with someone who used sarcasm to express his feelings. When it was pointed out that sarcasm was used, it was immediately refuted. Why? Because, as people we can all agree when a physiologist tells us that sarcasm is an ineffective tool of communication, but what qualifies for sarcasm will vary from one person to another based on their personal internal subjective definitions.

So in your minds eye, take a serious subject that carries a lot of personal meaning to you. Now think of the times you have made attempts at expressing this subject to your partner or a close friend. The times I am referring to are the times that this subject has ended in a conflict. For those out there that tend to have quite a bit of conflict, just pick one subject. Those that do not have much conflict at all, try and pick a subject that causes elevated emotion in you. ~Kudos to those out there that are able to keep the keys to successful communication in their hip pockets and come out with mild tempered words, organized properly and effectively to convey their thoughts and feelings effectively, making requests for their needs and remaining mild and calm when their needs are not met. I truly give you credit.~ Most often when someone finds that their mental health is at risk, they will also find that perhaps their communication skills are suffering too. So this isn't meant to demean the effective communicators out there, this is merely meant to bring to light a common and persistent hurdle most people struggling with mental health experience.

Once you have your scenario firmly fixed in your mind, try and think about what we discussed about the comment "It was wicked dark down there" - take those principals and apply it to what is being said between you and the other person(s) during this conflict. What can be taken for face value? What could be an interpretation? What, if anything, could be the source of different upbringings, different experiences in life? Pull apart the conflict and examine it from every angle. Not, my angle his/her angle, but every angle. Notice what disappears when you take hold of the task this way?


There is no judgement when you look at this way. You are not bad/wrong/too emotional/etc. because of your experiences and influence leading you to this moment in the conflict. It just is. The other person isn't bad/wrong/too emotional/etc. because of their experiences and influences that led them to that moment in the conflict. It just is. Unwrapping a conflict that way to better understand the meaning in the communication opens up a whole new world! Give it a try on a less provocative conflict and see what happens.

We'd love to hear from readers, so if you want, let us know what you come up with!

Group members: Tomorrow, Wednesday, April 1, 2015 @ 2 pm Pacific we will be holding group and discussing Yellow Light and Red Light skills for Distress Tolerance, if you care to join and have not yet done so, email me at mj@mydbtlife.com.


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