I’m kind of on a high. I have so much DBT related information to just pour out onto this site for myself & others that I hope my followers dont think I’m spamming! (-sorry!) Thank you to everyone whos taken time out to read and like what I share it’s a bit surreal to know that people read what I have to say.
Today was my last DBT session for a while 😦 I didn’t have money/didn’t think I need the distress tolerance module as much as I thought and am going to see if I can afford the upcoming Interpersonal Effectiveness module which I have been doing online but really want to do in group as well. I think next year if I can afford to – I will do all 4 again (people usually do DBT twice) or I’ll ask my GP if they can refer me.
My old DBT buddies have all left so that was a bit sad as I get attached and sometimes struggle with change but that’s OK the new environment is just as pleasant. Well today we looked at the ‘How’ skills of mindfulness. (How do we go about being mindful?)
First, I want to write out my notes on why/how mindfulness helps as the therapist taught us today. When you’re mindful of your emotions and experiences you give yourself space between the event and what you consequently do as a result. In BPD individuals we tend to be (or used to be) overwhelmed with emotions and then just act. This leads to impulsive outbursts or behaviour which is the main issue with this disorder. For example when I was younger an event would trigger rage in me and I’d decide to break things or trash my room…when I was calmer later I was then faced with tidying it all up and broken items (once it was a gift from my mum that I had actually really liked and needed so that really did me no favours as I then had to go without). The disastrous consequences only increase our suffering. So mindfulness allows you to tune into what you’re feeling, gives you that little moment of separation between yourself and your experience and emotions and then you can choose to respond and not react. I write this so I remember this in my brain as sometimes I find mindfulness boring even though I know it helps, so this is how it does that.
Physiologically you are allowing your amygdala to calm down just a little bit so that you don’t make things worse and can be effective instead.
So why we choose to be non-judgemental when we practice mindfulness is because judgements/judgemental thoughts only makes things worse. If you can recall a situation where you felt a particular emotion and you were judging yourself/others for example, you quickly realise it only ever fired up the emotion even more (I can vouch for this with anger and gave an example in class where I was angry about some statements my sister’s father in law was making and I was judging him in my mind ‘he’s such an ass’ etc. etc. all this did was make me angrier). Judgements also make the problem feel bigger than what it may be. They also can make you feel as if you ‘have to act’ (which isn’t always the case).
When you judge yourself it can also lead you to feelings of hopelessness (e.g. I’ll never get better at x,y, z, why do I even bother, there is no point I always fail etc. etc.) they don’t serve you or help you.
Non judgementally included trying not to attach values to experiences/people/feelings. If you evaluate in this way you are making it difficult to accept things as they are. I found I do this a lot with my life. Things are not as they are but rather ‘things aren’t meant to be this way’, ‘this isn’t how it was supposed to go’. This increased my suffering and ability to accept reality.
I asked her at this stage whether you can change your values as well as a part of this. I wanted to know because as per a previous post I have found through recovery my values have been changing. She said absolutely and that the way to know whether it’s a good idea to change a value is to ask – ‘Is this working for me? Is this beneficial for me?’ She asked me of a personal value change and I told her I had decided relationships are not to be used as an emotional crutch but rather I’d get involved when I am in a good place and feel I can be available for that person. She literally got up and applauded me and said that’s progress and a good example of changing redundant values that are no longer helping me.
One mindfully is pretty self explanatory. She also told us you can mindfully worry. I read something similar in a curing worry type self-help book. Setting aside time (10 minutes half an hour or whatever) to worry and let yourself do nothing but worry. I guess giving it a window to breathe and paying attention to them then allows you to stop worrying and get on with things once your time limit is up. I’m going to try this the day before my interviews.
Effectively includes being mindful of your goals. She also told us it was important to have goals for therapy, as in what we want to achieve from therapy and have that in the back of our minds as we go through therapy as a sign post. I have a rough idea and have some goals but I may just write it out clearly for myself so I can use it to navigate the rest of this year (I feel another post idea coming on!).
The best part of the session was the fact that at one point she looked at me and said you probably won’t fit the criteria for BPD very soon. I am still basking in that.