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DEAR MAN & Serenity Prayer

God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the Courage to change the things I can,

and the Wisdom to know the difference’

This hit me today because it is a situation where I need the courage. I can change this one.

So tomorrow I may be faced with a sticky situation and I may have to put my DEAR MAN in written action ready to use, I just want to put it on here because it is very therapeutic for me and helps release emotions associated with the events I write about.

My situation isn’t extreme by any means but I do feel that my kindness may have been taken advantage of, and then the annoying part of it is that I am afraid of speaking up and saying anything to that person. Why? because I am still in the baby steps of learning assertiveness. With my BPD, I have either been either raging or shouting at someone to ‘demand my rights’ or, staying quiet and letting the other person have their way regardless of how I feel about it (which leaves me with a lack of self-respect, feeling low feelings of self-worth because I didn’t speak up for myself and if I don’t speak up for myself, who will?).

I also believe that since our interpretations of events can sometimes be off-whack, I almost feel a sense of distrust in my own interpretations. Is someone really taking advantage of me or is my BPD making things up again? Is a question I find myself asking sometimes. It is exhausting to live with yes, but I am more than happy to use DBT skills for the rest of my life than improv the way I used to with the ensuing disastrous results.

Check the facts:

What is the emotion I want to change? Anger.

What is the event prompting my emotion? I lent a colleague my cardigan and she has not returned it.

What are my interpretations, thoughts, assumptions about the event?

She doesn’t intend on giving it back. She is lying that she has forgotten it. She is forgetting because she doesn’t realise I mean it when I am saying I want it back now. She is trying to keep it for herself. She thinks I will stop asking. I am assuming that she is capable of something like that. She thinks I’m not serious.

Other interpretations: She has genuinely forgot. She thinks I am okay to wait that it’s not an emergency. She does want to give it back. She is going to bring it in tomorrow. She doesn’t mind the delay because she thinks we’re closer than I may feel and she does not think I am angry about it or could be angry about it.

Am I assuming a threat? She is stealing from me. She will not give it back. 40%? Other outcomes, she does bring it in. She doesn’t mean to steal from me, she will ask to be reminded. She brings it in after me being clear with her.

My emotion – does fit the facts – having an important goal blocked (i.e. having cardigan back). But intensity does not.

Anger is not effective in this case because behaving in an angry way with her will not necessarily prompt her to bring it back and I don’t want to rage or say things that are out of line that I regret later.

So I will: take deep breaths. Be Kind. Half smile.

I feel a secondary emotion of fear which is not justified. My health or wellbeing is not being threatened by me talking to her, my wellbeing is not threatened in this situation. Talking to her is not going to kill me. So I need to approach the event and make sure I act. I need to speak up. I need to keep a confident posture and voice tone. Head up, shoulders relaxed.

SO, so far I have learnt that I need to show and behave as if I am unafraid but also not act angry. Just be assertive. I can use the techniques above to reduce my anger even though it is justified. It is okay for me to be angry, maybe irritated, but not raging mad.

So I am going to use DEAR MAN :

D – I have asked you a few times to return my cardigan and you have not given it back to me. I have asked about 4 times at least.

E – I am starting to feel upset and annoyed because I expected it back by now and trusted that you will.

A – I would like it back tomorrow by the latest.

R – Thank you.

Stay Mindful (M) – if she tries to um and aw off of the point. I will say: I would like it back tomorrow. I have given you time, I would like it back tomorrow.

A – appear confident. No stammering, no ‘would you please’ be clear and direct. I have given her many chances. No apologising, I haven’t done anything wrong and I am not being unreasonable in my request to have my own property back! Remember my anger in this situation is justified. Validate myself. I have a right to feel angry. Being angry is not ‘wrong’ it is not ‘bad’. It is justified and totally OK. No one else can make me feel ‘wrong’ or ‘bad’ for feeling angry. I am not making anything a ‘big deal’.

N – Would you like me to call you in the morning before you leave home to remind you?

If it gets difficult – You keep saying you will and then forgetting. I am starting to feel like you do not respect me and what I am asking of you. I am starting to feel angry by this and disappointed. I will give you today to think about returning this before we take this further.

If she gets argumentative or tries to blame me, or go off topic or rude. I will say : I would like to end the conversation now as it feels like it is becoming an argument and I do not want to argue. I will arrange a meeting for us instead.

I’m going to write this on a card. Oh man, if I can do this right, it will be a step to treating myself well and getting myself heard. I will reward myself in some way for following through with this too, as I am facing a fear.

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