The great thing about DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills is that they are not only useful in times of crisis, but they can also become a helpful every day part of your life.
I've integrated the skills and am so thankful for them. Before starting DBT, I was very unstable. My moods shifted from one minute to the next, and everything felt so unpredictable. I could be set off or triggered by anything and usually immediately or impulsively reacted in order to quell the intense emotions that I felt (and often not thinking of new consequences and making matters worse.)
While I still experience mood swings, they are now more spaced out.
While I still get triggered or set off, I have learned, for the most part, to put space (time) between the incident that triggers me and any action I may feel compelled to take.
Just these two things alone have significantly improved my quality of life, as you might imagine.
The integration of the skills came naturally. Because I always felt like I was "floating" and never fully anchored, I grasped onto my DBT binder and group like they were my last hope (and they very well might have been!)
I delved into the skills and began deliberately applying them - especially to avoid making situations worse when I was already emotionally distress. With each success, I became more encouraged and confident. By filling out my diary cards, I became aware of just how often I was naturally working the skills into my life - so much so that DBT became more of a lifestyle than just a group I attend each week and a binder filled with worksheets.
I am so grateful to Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of this method.
I bet the "sandwich artist" behind the counter this morning would be, too. There is a young woman at the sub shop that I visit once a week to pick up some sandwiches on my way to work. She's usually soft spoken, doesn't crack a smile, and sloppily puts together my order. She also seems irritated.
On past visits, I have left feeling slighted, annoyed, and even angry. This time, I decided to apply my skills - at a sandwich shop - to see if this would "improve the moment."
So I used the following skills:
- Was a little bit kinder (Opposite Action to my annoyance/anger.)
- Was little bit kinder (also falls under Relationship Effectiveness Handout 2 in Interpersonal Effectiveness and Building Mastery around Self Respect Effectiveness on the same handout.)
- Realized it was okay for me to ask for my sandwich to be made the way I want it since I'm paying for it. (Interpersonal Effectiveness Handout 5: Cheerleading Statements for Interpersonal Effectiveness.)
|Effectiveness Handout 5: Cheerleading Statements|
for Interpersonal Effectiveness.Click to Enlarge.
(Sorry, mine is marked up a bit)
Worksheet is from
Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorderby Dr. Marsha Linehan
I became interested in her and her day. She was playing music loudly in the store, so I playfully danced into the shop and smiled. I said, "Good Morning. How are you?" I also asked her what time she had to get in each morning to be there and ready so early and that I hoped she got off early so she could enjoy the sun today. (Use an Easy Manner, Be Gentle, Act Interested, and Validate - all from Interpersonal Effectiveness Handout 9).
- Turns out my favorite ingredient at that shop (I'm vegetarian but eat tuna) - the tuna - was not yet prepared. I noticed she was all alone and had no help. I promptly ordered a veggie sandwich instead. (Be Gentle and Courteous - also from Interpersonal Effectiveness Handout 9).
The result? The clerk smiled at me, engaged in conversation, and made my sandwich nicely. As I left, she told me to have a nice day. What a difference a skillful day can make.
Thank you for reading.