Skills Teaching

For various reasons, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) lately. If you’re not familiar with it, that’s okay. There’s a lot of concepts within it that many people will already be familiar with if they’ve any experience with mindful meditation or really any sort of therapy that deals with emotions. 

While I see how productive so many of these tactics could be in aiding comfort to an upsetting situation. It’s hard to imagine remembering all that. I feel like if I could remember all those steps in the moment, then I should have no trouble disconnecting from the emotions. I guess that’s kind of the whole point. 

There’s a lot of times when I get upset or emotional and it feels like a lot to deal with. We’re human, we all have those moments. Whether you actually are diagnosed with something or just wish for a little bit more control I think it’s important to take a look.

While psychology is a very regulated field and individuals shouldn’t just randomly play around with diagnosis or other things that could create lasting damage. I think the skills and tactics we’ve developed through psychological research and study should absolutely be utilized. The whole point is to improve and learning skills to help you with that is wonderful. 

I feel like there is a real need for individuals who are both knowledgeable and personable to bridge that gap between the field of clinical psychology and the practice of daily living. There is so much guidance out there that we could benefit from, but many people are so intimidated by psychology that it sits in books, studies, reports, and never reaches the people it was intended to help. 

We need more skills-teaching as a society. Not everyone needs an hour or so on a couch a week. Out of those who do or want that, even they can’t all afford or find the means to make it happen. Psychology is not a hard subject to teach in common sense terms, yet outside of a select few individuals we generally ignore it. 

I know that SOMEONE is going to bring up pop psych and self-help books. It’s a start, but how many have you read that just keep telling you the same thing without actually helping you or showing you how to achieve it. Lecturing vs. application. We need to do better. 

 

Other Side of Fear

Okay, so you know that moment when someone does something for themselves, but it also happens to be EXACTLY what you need. So much so that even though normally it would leave you broken and crying in the fetal position (because you’re over emotional and dramatic), but because it happens to be just what you need – you’re totally fine. Yeah, that’s happening. Except instead of totally fine, I’m totally spazzing out over it because I’m PERFECTLY FINE and for once NOT over-thinking a damn thing. I realize that makes no sense.

I’m at a point in life where I’m very aware of the changes taking place and my own personal growth. Instead of feeling upset or rejected I’m just like, oh right, it’s time. Then I’m frustrated that I’m so okay with it… I don’t even fully know why. I realize that part of it is just that change is new and always a little bit uncomfortable, but also there’s part of me that feels like if I’m totally fine then WOW have I been lying to myself for longer than I can remember.

I started out totally overthinking it and it wasn’t even ten minutes and I was just, like, oh wait, that’s not what happened. Then I was fine, annoyed, but fine. I’m not even really annoyed about it happening just that it’s so freaking simple. I have every confidence that I will be fine and at one point can manage to just be myself without being awkward. For now, back to the plan where I just learn some independence and evolve a bit more. So yeah, I’m here just kind of reeling through the frustration and annoyance. I need to get busy on something… Growing up is not cool, dammit!

Overthinking to Just Be

Once you realize that you’re stuck in your own mind its easy to see that you need to stop. If you’ve ever tried to not think about something you know this merely adds pressure with no actual solution. So, naturally, you start thinking about what will get you distracted.If you’re like me, you’re going to fall back on some distracting hobby you enjoy. Reading, writing, music, walking, and bubble baths are my big go to distractions. Sometimes they work and sometimes it takes several of them all at once or one after another.

In one of my classes this semester we’ve been studying how to change your own behavior. A big focus of this is how stuck in patterns we get, to the point where you’re not even aware of said behavior. For example, biting your nails is a very automatic habit that many people have experienced. One of the tips in stopping this is to recondition yourself to understanding what this behavior feels like. They suggest actually participating in the activity with COMPLETE focus. Make your mind aware of what is going on so that it doesn’t switch straight over to auto-pilot.

Using that theory, I have started to push myself into activities that will make me feel better (or at least should in theory). Instead of allowing the frustration to take over and giving up, I’ve started to really pay close attention to what I’m doing. Paying attention to how it feels and imagining how I want it to feel. I find my mind wandering back to my troubles, but just like with meditation I keep redirecting the thoughts back to what is going on in that moment.

Stop overthinking. Just be. Eventually the gap will close and you’ll realize how much energy you’ve been wasting on needless worry and bad habits.

 

Discovering Rock Bottom

“And so rock bottom became the solid foundation on which I rebuilt my life.”― J.K. Rowling

Rock bottom was never a place I even realized I had reached. When we think rock bottom, we tend to think of that point between survival and existence. Truth be told, our lives are not always that dramatic. Not everyone has a plot twist that equates to a bestselling novel or blockbuster hit. For many of us, it is something more subtle, yet still terribly difficult.

As much of a trial as we understand rock bottom to be – the phrase itself is problematic. It has a certain amount of inherent discord. What was rock bottom for me, might pale in comparison to someone else’s experience. On the other hand, I might not have the skills or knowledge to triumph over a different version of rock bottom.

Life prepares each of us for what we are going up against. Your experiences prepare you for the trials to come. If you aren’t feeling that, then chances are you’re not open to the lessons those moments are providing you with. If that’s the case, it’s time to wake up and pay attention. Get out of your own head for a bit and you will be surprised what’s waiting at your feet.

I was in a pretty normal place for me when I realized that the healing had begun. I wasn’t in terrible shape, but I wasn’t aware of making much progress either. I had been in counseling just shy of a year and I was facing some tough defeating behaviors and negative thinking. Progress was slow and I wasn’t happy that life didn’t seem to be cutting me any breaks.

In a complete rant about how defeated I felt, I started to get pretty pissed that things weren’t going my way. I remember saying how badly I just wanted to quit working towards something better. The next words slipped from my lips on their own. “I’ve overcome so much already that I know I can handle whatever comes next, even if I don’t like it.” In that moment, I knew I was over the proverbial hill. I had already overcome so much and even if I didn’t know what was coming next I knew, KNEW, that I could overcome that as well.

We all have survival skills. The problem is that for many of us that is all they are. We survive, but we do not grow or evolve. I had become complacent in my misery and was happy to continue upon that path, as long as things didn’t get worse. Obviously I knew something wasn’t right because I was there trying to work through it, but I can’t say I was completely invested in becoming a new me either.

Even in that small moment of awareness, I had no concept of the hole I was crawling out of. All I knew was that I was ready for tomorrow, the next step, a challenge. I had learned to be flexible in what life threw at me. I had become more adept at not losing my head (or emotions in most cases) when things didn’t go the way I planned. I had even found things to be joyful over once again. I found myself craving change and progress in an almost addictive kind of way. Though I still wasn’t ready to seek it out on my own.

Fast forward to a few months later and some radical life changing events were going on. I had completely reshaped a semi-destructive relationship I didn’t think I could ever live without, I had friends for the first time, I was jogging regularly, I was more productive, I was sleeping better, I was writing again, and most importantly I was taking time to truly figure out who I was on my own.

The first part of all these changes was rather scary. I wasn’t acting like myself at all, but at the same time I was finding myself all over again. Concerned people in my life were offering all sorts of feedback, advice, and opinions. For the most part, I managed to quiet the outside voices and listen to my own desires. It wasn’t easy and I made some mistakes, but they were mine and I was taking ownership of them.

More importantly, I was taking ownership of the good too. That was the biggest confidence builder for me. Despite the warnings or maybe as a former rebellious child maybe BECAUSE of the warnings I was starting to remember what courage felt like.

It took two sessions to convince my therapist that I wasn’t going off on some sort of manic or just stress induced spree of destructive behaviors masked as change. When she did come around to the solidity of it, she voiced the very thing I had been feeling for days. “It seems like everything in your life is starting to fall exactly into place.” I had felt confident before, but the validation of one of my biggest critics was again a huge push forward. It didn’t validate me, but it made me realize that I was right to trust myself and right to keep pushing.

Each choice and action were building me up out of that hole I had lived in for so long. I wasn’t perfect by any means, but I felt the changes and knew it was only a matter of time before I stopped worrying about perfection. I was having fun and I was happy. I don’t quite know how far out of this hole I am or if I’m out of it altogether, but I feel like as long as I can hold on to this new sense of self, I’ll be just fine.

More Than….

I have to believe that I am more than memories and broken dreams. I was here before they and am still here now – even if I’m fumbling.

I always believed the myths – we were two parts of a larger whole. I don’t know how to enmesh that into my reality. Into me….

If we were whole, than what am I by myself? More than alone – incomplete and definitely incompatible with the world around me. A world I was just beginning to understand.

There is no choice at this point, but I have to believe there will be a solution.