There is a recurring theme that I have picked up in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) over the years: If you can reduce your worrying, you can reduce your suffering. It’s a very appealing concept to me, and I have to say, it works.
Whether you have borderline personality disorder, are an emotionally sensitive person, suffer from anxiety, or you are someone who is going through a difficult time with a lot of anxiety provoking unknowns, chances are, you are worrying… a lot.
Often times when we are worried, our very vivid imaginations get the better of us. We start to create what-if scenarios. One of the few Borderline Personality Disorder symptoms that I still suffer from is black or white thinking. While I have a heightened level of consciousness around much of my mental health experience, I almost always am unconscious of this pattern until someone points it out to me. For example, today I was with a friend. I had a sensation and went into panic, imaging the worst possible scenario. She asked, “Is there a way you could not jump from the initial thought to that extreme?” Things are rarely black or white, clear cut and dry, and having only two possibilities. Fact checking involves exploring the shades of grey. If you’re like me and need it pointed out from the outside when you’re in this type of thinking, it can be very challenging, but it is possible.
The other fact checking that I did was to send an email to my doctor with detailed questions about which I needed clarity. He called me, and I wrote out his answers. I better understood what I am facing and felt a sense of relief at knowing a little bit more. If someone outside of you (i.e. a doctor) has knowledge of your particular situation, consider inquiring to get more peace of mind.
I’ve been calling, emailing, facebooking, and texting friends. When we are going through a hard time and are in pain of any sort, there is sometimes a tendency to isolate. I am trying to avoid this. Today I went out to lunch with a friend. While I became symptomatic and anxious during our visit, it was so nice to be with her and to not be alone. I’ve also booked an appointment with my hypnotherapist in order to get some support around managing the anxiety (including the anticipatory anxiety connected to my upcoming medical procedure.) Think about who you can reach out to in order to feel less alone and to empower yourself to feel stronger during this difficult time. I’m finding this to be very helpful.
In DBT, there is a concept called Radical Acceptance. When we practice this Mindfulness skill, we consciously choose to take back our sanity by, instead of living in denial, accepting the truth of our situation, no matter how uncomfortable or scary it might be. Radical Acceptance means facing the truth and accepting that things are what they are — not what we wish them to be or how we think they should be. This is not about resigning and not caring about outcomes or effecting change in our lives. It is simply the first step of the paradox that in order to change something, we must first be willing to accept it just as it is.
In what ways can you reduce your suffering by reducing your worrying?
Thank you for reading.