Lately I've been wanting to apply the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills of Radical Acceptance and Non-Judgment to the moodiness that I often experience at night. It's been challenging. Today, Life gave me the opportunity to see how to put the skill into practice.
I love warm weather and sunny skies. I also enjoy an occasional rain or thunderstorm. The weather in San Francisco lately, though, has been pretty much constant rain -- and I am not exaggerating. A storm has been passing through and for days, when you looked out the window, it seemed as if it were dusk. Rain has been pouring from the skies, dancing and pounding on the roof of our house and, when I braved it to go to work and essential appointments, on my car top.
When I heard the forecast and learned that this would be going on for days, I realized that it wouldn't do me or anyone who had to deal with me any good to complain or wallow in misery over the weather. Clearly, I have no control over it. In fact, whether I radically accept it or not, it's going to happen the way Mother Nature intends. So, to reduce suffering, which is a key goal in DBT, I chose to not fight "what is." I decided to accept reality.
I thought about how cozy this week would be with my two cats and I on the couch, all snuggled up with the heater on. I thought about how nice it will be to fall asleep and wake up to the sound of rain on the rooftop. You could say I was using the "Coping Ahead" skill. It all worked. I have indeed been enjoying the things I envisioned.
There was a time when I would have gotten very judgmental about even the weather. If I had gone down that road, my state of mind and feeling of contentment (in general) would likely be in a different place. We don't have to like the rain in order to accept it. We don't need to judge the rain and make it "bad" or "terrible." We don't have to like the fact that it's cold and dark outside and we'd rather be outdoors in the warm sunshine...but we can accept that this is the way it is and that the storm will pass.
It's the same with emotions. When the mood changes come tonight (I predict they will only because it's been happening so consistently at around 7 pm each evening), I will try to apply the example of the rain storms to the difficult, unpleasant emotions I experience in the mood swings. Instead of making a strong, black & white, "negative" statement to myself (when I get moody, I often say to myself, "I hate EVERYTHING," only to follow up with, well, not everything.) We'll see how it goes.
Thanks for reading.