Something’s Gotta Give!

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This is something that I am learning in my life currently. I am 34 weeks pregnant, and I am really starting to feel it! The bigger baby and I grow, the more my body tells me to slow down and take more breaks. If you know me at all, then you know this is hard for me! I am usually an energetic, type-A, let’s-get-this-done type of person. Because my mind and my body are in conflict, I often find myself frustrated and unfairly judging myself. I tell myself things like, “you should be doing more”, “too much time was wasted today just sitting around”, and “there must be tons of pregnant women doing much more than you right now”. These are not things I would think or say to anyone else, so why do I judge myself so harshly?

I think often of the DBT skills – especially of radical acceptance, non-judgmental stance, and wise mind. Remember that these skills require on-going practice. They are simply not understood and checked off a list or mastered (though I wish it were that easy!) I must remember to radically accept what I can not control and to let go. My body has changed greatly and I have to make adjustments accordingly. I can’t be on my feet as long, lift as much, or run as many errands. I have to let go when my to-do list isn’t all checked off and we don’t have anything cooked for dinner, or the bathroom is a mess. I have to remind myself to shift into neutral thinking when I start judging. I must say to myself, this is what I accomplished and this is what I didn’t. I will get to (fill in the blank) when I am able to. I have to challenge these beliefs that things must be a certain way. When I feel anxious or frustrated, I must balance those emotions with logic. What are the facts? Oh right – I’m eight months pregnant! Even if I wasn’t, I am human and I deserve a break. I am flawed and there is no such thing as perfection.

What has to give in your life right now? Often we try to take on too much, balance too many obligations. Work might be suffering if you have too much stress in your personal life, or you may be having issues in your intimate relationships if you have too many work or other social obligations. What I see most often unfortunately is that YOU are the one suffering. Everything else might be in balance, but self-care is non-existent.

What do you have to let go of so that you can take a little bit better care of yourself? What would that look like? If you could create more time for yourself, how would you fill it? Try to really challenge yourself to give up something – today and/or in your life currently!

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Spotlight on ~ DBT

DBT = Dialectical Behavioral Therapy

This is a type of therapy I became more aware of in 2010 while working at a partial hospitalization program. Since then I have had multiple trainings and have learned as much as I could about it. In my experiences, it has been the most useful and effective type of therapy that I have worked with.

My favorite skills are wise mind and radical acceptance.

Wise mind is the balance of your logic and emotions. Many of the DBT skills are about balance. It is probably unrealistic to expect that we would be completely logical about a situation, and it is probably ineffective to be completely emotional about that same situation. Ideally, we would acknowledge what our emotions are (basic mindfulness practice – checking in and observing our feelings), and then engage the rational part of our brains so that we don’t act out impulsively.

Things to consider for arriving in wise mind: Can you identify the emotion or feeling? Where do you feel it in your body? Can you rate it on a scale of 1-10? Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you are feeling without acting. Then assess what you are thinking. What information do you have – what are the facts? Is it something you have any control over? Are you making assumptions or predicting the future? Understand that your thoughts are not always true. Live without judgment and you can tap into your own wise mind.

Radical acceptance is about acknowledging reality. Acceptance doesn’t mean forgiveness or that we condone or are happy about that reality. It just is an acknowledgment that we most likely have no control. Remember, the only things that we can control of are our thoughts, feelings (though this is often debated,) and behaviors. Everything else is out of our control. The past is out of our control, though we can learn from it; the future is out of our control, though we can try to prepare for it. Finding acceptance can create an important freedom and allow you to live in the moment without judgment.

Check out these resources for more information on Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, and feel free to comment with any thoughts or questions!

DBT Self-Help
DBT at Get Self-Help
DBT Links at Healing from BPD
Diary Card templates (to track your progress)

Journal Prompt: Think of a recent upsetting situation. How can you use wise mind and radical acceptance to look at it differently?

 

 

How Giving Up and Letting Go Are In for 2014

One of my best friends has had a hell of a year – moving out of state, resigning from her job, deaths in the family – just to name a few of the things she is dealing with. One of the ways that she has gotten though it is to say to herself, “I’m going to pick my battles.” It may sound simple, but this statement and what is represents can be so powerful – letting go.

So much of our anxiety has to do with control – wanting to control the things we can’t, feeling out of control (especially when it comes to emotions), ignoring or avoiding the things that we can control, and getting so angry when we can’t make loved ones just do what (we think) they need to do. Imagine that you could stop yourself, evaluate the scenario with a clear head, and realize that it isn’t worth your energy? You can!

Often associated with AA is the serenity prayer, “Higher power, grant me the serenity to accept the things that I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” This prayer/mantra can be such a helpful reminder for anyone struggle with the stress of difficult situations. A quote by mindfulness guru Elisha Goldstein – “It is what it is, when it is”. This so simply ties radical acceptance and mindfulness. Can you work on accepting your reality? You don’t have to agree with it, like it, or understand it. But you can accept that in that reality there is nothing you can do about it. Your only control is over your thoughts, behaviors, feelings, and reactions to everything else.

Just for today, or as a new resolution, try giving up control and letting go. The dishes don’t have to get done before you go to bed. The kids don’t have to get straight As on their report cards. You don’t have to put on make-up every time you leave the house. Think about what brings you joy and what brings you frustration. Re-evaluate what is important in your life. Letting go of the more trivial things can help you to focus your attention on what matters.

Journal prompt: What can I let go of? What is something that bothers me that I have no control over? Where can I shift my attention to instead?

Recommended reading: “Mastering the Art of Quitting“…Β  I have not yet read this book, but recently heard an interview with one of the authors on NPR and was very intrigued!