Category Archives: Emotional Mind, Rational Mind, and Wise Mind

Track Your Emotional Level Using “The Levels of Emotion Chart” from the DBT-CBT Workbook (with Estimates of Emotional Mind and Rational Mind)

The Levels of Emotion Chart provides descriptions of how we FEEL and FUNCTION when we’re experiencing different levels of negative emotion. The levels range from 0-10. At Level 0, we are at peace. At Level 10, we are desperately overwhelmed with negative emotion. Notice the far right columns.  They show how active Emotional Mind and Rational Mind are at each level (this is just a guess though!) This chart helps to gauge or measure our emotional intensity and to better understand the effect our emotional levels have on our ability to participate effectively in our life.

Use the link below to check out the chart and to read the text from the workbook related to the chart.  I don’t know why, but you’ll go to a page view that doesn’t open the file…BUT, if you click the link again when you get to that page…it’ll come up like it’s supposed to!  

The Levels of Emotion Chart – from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.

Review the levels of emotion in the chart and answer the following questions.

What level are you currently at?

What has been you lowest and highest level today?

What is the level of your best functioning over the past week? the last month?

At what level were you at when “Something Happened” and you ended up having to go into treatment?

At what level should you seek help so you can prevent going into treatment?

Most group members believe we should call our support person, sponsor, counselor, or crisis worker at level 5 or 6. Knowing what they know now, they want to get help BEFORE things begin to get out-of-control. At levels 5 and 6, we still have a fair amount of Rational Mind going on. This helps us to seek support…and to accept the Rational Mind and Wise Mind understandings and suggestions offered to us!

The Dynamics of Emotional Mind and It’s Role in Driving Destructive Coping Behavior: When Emotional Mind Drives…We Wreck Out…and Our Lives Become a Total Wreck

The Dynamics of Emotional Mind - hand-out  092010b

View the pdf file for a readable image – click the link below

The Dynamics of Emotional Mind – DBT-CBT Conference Handout – 072411

This hand-out addresses the dynamics of Emotional Mind and its role in driving destructive emotion-driven coping behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, aggression, eating disorders, etc.)

The “Cycle of Suffering”- when we respond to emotional pain and life problems in destructive, emotion-driven ways, we end up with new problems and increasingly severe old problems…and we feel worse than before.  If we respond to this new level of pain and problems in destructive ways, our pain and problems will continue to intensify and multiply.  Because we’re not working through our pain or resolving our problems, our emotional baggage piles up.  The trauma from the past weighs us down in the present and intensifies present misery.  What could have been temporary pain and problems has turned into long-term pain and suffering.  The only way to get the cycle of suffering to stop…is to stop it.  We can stop our suffering by stopping our destructive coping behavior.  We must turn on Rational Mind to “think through before we do” and we must “follow through” with Wise Mind problem-solving and life-enhancing coping behaviors.

Based on:  “Out-of-Control:  A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” copyright © 2010 by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.   (www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com)

Why We Relapse: Desperate for Peace in a World of Emotional Turmoil

I responded today to a LinkedIn discussion started by Elisabeth Davies, MC of Bright Alternatives, Inc.  and the author of “Good Things, Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction.”  The discussion topic was, “Is relapsing with unhealthy substances an attempt to get more peace of mind? Being so passionate about this recovery topic, here’s my long-winded response!

“For many, yes. Many use substances as a coping behavior to help bring their emotional level to a more tolerable or comfortable level. Also, returning to such a behavior reduces the extreme tension of wanting to do it and not allowing ourselves to…thus, the experience of immediate relief or peace in-the-moment. To help us to feel better about relapsing, we’ve probably come up with all types of reasons (emotion-driven lies) as to why it is okay to do and would help us…and how we can also quit again when life settles down, etc…unless of course, it is a major emotional reflex to an immediate stressor and we do it VERY impulsively…without giving it much thought.

Relapsing on substances is little different than wolfing down a big bag of cookies or scoops n’ scoops of ice cream, or starting to smoke again, a “forbidden” sexual encounter….whatever. I think these types of behaviors have to do with attempts to bring an “out-of-control” emotional mind into control…so that we feel better and more comfortable in the emotional moment. It is all about being desperate for relief and doing what brings us relief, often immediate relief. It’s a desperate way to experience a sense of emotional, psychological, and physical peace IN-THE-MOMENT…although we’ll have hell to pay when we come to (when the emotional moment passes and rational mind picks up strength).

When we come to and realize what just happened and are faced with the consequences of our behavior…and the unresolved problem…we feel bad again…and then we may continue destructive coping….chasing “peace in the moment”…When we use destructive coping behaviors to deal with our pain and problems, we enter the Cycle of Suffering. Our problems multiply and intensity and we go through a period of increased pain and suffering as a result.

I believe most people use destructive coping behaviors to some degree (e.g., overworking, oversleeping, physical aggression, yelling, throwing fits, being rude and ugly, ‘always speaking our mind”, lying, gambling, obsessive exercise, cheating, sleeping around, codependency, procrastination, smoking, prescription meds, alcohol, overeating or eating the desired “poison foods” for us, being hyperreligious, narcissistic….and the list goes on and on.) I actually tell my patients that it’s “normal” to be “abnormal” and entirely abnormal to be so perfectly normal and in control of ourselves. We all do some destructive coping behaviors and the healthier or more in recovery we are…the less we do these things…and the more we work VERY hard to stay in control of our emotions, behaviors, and our addictions of choice….and the more we choose life-enhancing coping behaviors instead.

I’m obviously very passionate about this…it’s one of those, “been there, done that, still doing that…having to fight for recovery at times to stay in control…and not to get too far out of control” type of things for me. I believe that when we are in recovery…we remain “works in progress.” Sometimes it’s a daily battle and sometimes, an occasional battle. We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behaviors…or to certainly think about doing them!

We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behavior…or to certainly think about doing them!”

And you know the more we think about doing them…the more likely we are to finally do them. That’s because the tension is building…we want…and we won’t allow ourselves to have…and we want…we tell ourselves “NO”…and we want…and we’re tired of the pain, problems, tension, and frustration…and we become desperate for relief and peace…that we finally do what we keep trying not to do…and we relapse. Have you “been there, done that?” Have you been through this struggle? It’s a battle of the minds, Emotional Mind vs. Rational Mind and Wise Mind. It’s a battle of wills…willingness vs. willfulness. Which recovery skills do you use to get through the “fixing to relapse” moment? Do you still have these moments?

I believe that one of our major recovery tasks is to learn ways to keep our Emotional Mind in control and to tame our Emotional Mind when it is getting out-of-control. That’s my biggest recovery task…and it’s always a battle of the mind states and a battle of will. Sometimes, I grow tired of the battle and dealing with my emotional, willful self. At those tired, weak moments, I remind myself….”Mel, what do you want…peace and stability or chaos and pain?” Isn’t it horrible that you have to parent yourself even when you’re a grown-up!?

Link to the LinkedIn discussion

Link to Elisabeth’s book:  “Good Things, Emotional Healing Journal: Addiction on Amazon

Link to Elisabeth’s blog

Radical Acceptance: Accepting the Unacceptable – Coming to Terms With Our Destructive Behavior to Heal the Emotional Pain of Shame, Guilt, and Regret

I recently responded to a LinkedIn discussion regarding the negative consequences of an individual being found “Not Guilty by Reason of Insanity.”  It was spurred by a Wall Street Journal article entitled, “The Trouble With the Insanity Defense” written by D. J. Jaffe, a co-founder of the Treatment Advocacy Center.  It was printed in the 3-26-10 edition.

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB20001424052748704896104575139801575696436.html

The writer notes, “Not guilty by reason of insanity is an inadequate remedy to violence by individuals with mental illness.” He raised some valid points.

As I work for a state mental health institution which provides treatment for NGRI patients, I responded with the following comment.

Pros and cons. Time in a psychiatric hospital is generally “easier” time than in prison – so that is a definite benefit to the NGRI population. Further, many of our NGRI patients have stabilized to a degree that they are among the highest functioning patients in the hospital and have the highest level of privileges. Those are benefits.

In terms of cons, in general the NGRI population spends more time in a psychiatric facility than they would if they served Guilty sentences in prison. Also, like the article notes, they are often held in a psychiatric hospital long after stabilization and likely safe release to the community. In Texas, the superintendent (CEO) of the hospital has to approve the potential release before petitioning the court for placing the patient on an outpatient commitment. Both the judge and the hospital CEO are risking their careers and reputation if the released patient recommits a significantly violent crime.

The headline test – ‘Judge ordered release of criminally insane man who kills again

In addition, the community mental health officials also have to ‘sign off’ on the release and attest that they can ensure adequate monitoring and treatment to prevent reoffending. It’s a risky business. However, many of the NGRI individuals are truly honorable, caring, competent individuals who regret their actions and strive for a productive life. It is a great shame for patients and victims. Our facility works very hard on behalf of these patients, the courts, and the community to carefully evaluate individuals who appear ready for an outpatient commitment and to ensure a sound outpatient treatment program / support plan is in place for these individuals. It is a risky situation however as a state psychiatric facility, we are charged with providing this service and level of care.”

Marilyn Miller, MS., LPC., a psychotherapist in private practice in San Antonio, Texas, comments in this discussion that she works with individuals with bipolar disorder to help them “resolve enormous shame for their actions during manic phases (pre-medication and -treatment).”  She notes that even though their acts did not involve violence against others, their behavior was so “devastatingly self-destructive” and “so counter to their own ‘real’ values that the hurdle of getting over that shame is quite high.”  She states that she “can not imagine the further horror” for NGRI individuals “knowing that they have taken lives (or attempted to do so).http://www.marilynmillerpsychotherapy.com/

My follow-up response using the vernacular and understandings of the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” Workbook I wrote…includes,

As you say Marilyn, it is horribly sad to work with the NGRI’s (or other patients) who are non-psychopathic…and in a period of being out of touch with reality or otherwise ‘Big Time in Emotional Mind’…enacted state dependent destructive behavior…and when they ‘come to’ reality (Rational Mind) and recognize what they have done and the impact on others and their lives…they are in great emotional pain and are devastated by their behavior.  Just this week in group at the state hospital, this came up as we were discussing the consequences of ‘Emotion-Driven Behavior.’  A cloud of great remorse and sadness came over the group in that moment of insight and understanding relating to why things are the way they are in their lives…why their people are so upset with them….and why they have lost so many of the things that they value and cherish.

I teach them that it’s not WHAT happened (like a relationship break-up, conflict on the job, abuse, etc) that has led to such life losses…that it is HOW they responded to the life situation (drugs, alcohol, suicide attempts, physical violence, saying ugly things to people, etc) that has led to the deterioration of their life and the widespread losses of all the people, things, and activities they love and cherish.  This is a painful truth that leads to a major moment of reckoning.  From there, we talk about what we can do to prevent getting ‘Big-Time in Emotional Mind’…and learning ways to respond through Wise Mind when we do experience out-of-control emotional moments.

This past week, this moment in group was so heavy in sadness that I told them that this is exactly why I wrote the workbook and why I am so passionate about helping them in group…that it pains me greatly to be among such neat, wonderful individuals who truly care about their lives and their people…and how it is so sad to live, eat, breathe Emotional Mind…and to be stuck in a ‘Cycle of Suffering’…a cycle of being upset, enacting destructive Emotion-Driven Coping Mechanisms, suffering more losses, feeling worse, continuing destructive copings, consequences worsen, feeling even worse….and on and on and on.

The depth of their pain is what drives me to work so hard to help them to understand Emotional Mind dynamics and to find new ways to respond to life stressors, problems, situations, losses, etc., to STOP the cycle of suffering, and to live a recovery lifestyle so they can reap all the rewards of doing so…to end their pain and suffering and to live a life that provides meaning and satisfaction.

For many, this involves understanding why they have done the things they’ve done, self-acceptance and forgiveness, being committed to change the way they respond to life, developing a Game Plan for recovery, and FOLLOWING THROUGH with their recovery plan.  This process also involves understanding why others have acted in certain ways towards them, acceptance and forgiveness of others, etc.

Another major point I teach them is that their destructive behavior is not a product of WHO THEY ARE as a person…not their character, personality, or true self…but a product of HOW THEY ARE (or were) when they are ‘Big Time in Emotional Mind’…as a result of psychosis, mania, intoxication, great anger or upset, the result of an altered state of consciousness, the one in which they are Big Time in Emotional Mind without any significant levels of Rational Mind going on.  It is not WHO THEY ARE….because most of these individuals are good-hearted people who care about others…and truly care about living a productive life and being kind, loving, and helpful to others.”

For this blog, I’d like to add the following text from Chapter 12:  “ACCEPTANCE” from the DBT-CBT Workbook.  This is an example of applying “Radical Acceptance” to our lives.  Radical Acceptance is about “accepting the unacceptable”….and boy, when we’re in recovery…we’re going to have to do a lot of that!

ACCEPTANCE OF THE BAD, HORRIBLE, ROTTEN THINGS WE’VE DONE

We’re human.  We ALL make mistakes.  When we’ve LIVED IN Emotional Mind, we’ve made MANY mistakes.  We’ve acted impulsively and have made MANY regrettable decisions.  We’re NOT bad, horrible, rotten people.  We’ve just done some bad, horrible, rotten things.  These things happen when people are drinking, drugging, in a manic or psychotic state, or are desperately overwhelmed with painful emotion.  When we’re CLEAN N’ SOBER, on our MEDS, making HEALTHY LIFESTYLE CHOICES, and ACTING IN WAYS to Mindfully Protect Our Peace and Stability, we’re GOOD-HEARTED PEOPLE with good morals and values…and WE CARE ABOUT PEOPLE.

Think of the REALLY NEAT people we’ve met in rehabs, AA, support groups, and hospitals.  They’ve lived a past JUST LIKE US.  They’ve done hurtful things to the people they love WHEN they were in the middle of their addictions and Destructive Coping Behavior.  They’re NOT bad people.  They’re the WALKING WOUNDED and IN THEIR DAYS of PAIN and IMPULSIVITY, they did some painful and impulsive things.  TAKE AWAY the drugs, alcohol, mania, depression, pain, anger, and bitterness…and what’s left are some PRETTY NEAT PEOPLE!

We’re the walking wounded.
We’ve experienced a lot of pain.
Being desperate for relief,
we’ve done a lot of painful things
that have hurt ourselves and others.

Think of two people YOU KNOW that fit that description.  What sort of bad things did they do when they were in the middle of their addictions and destructive coping behavior?  Also describe their character when they’re living a Recovery Lifestyle.  _________________________________________________ _________________________________________________

Our Recovery Task is to ACCEPT whatever we’ve done.  Then, we must WISELY decide which things we CAN DO SOMETHING ABOUT and which ones we CAN’T.  We need to focus our efforts on the things we CAN do something about that are a PRIORITY in our life.  We need to DO WHATEVER WE NEED TO DO to improve these things.  The things we can change that AREN’T A PRIORITY…
we need to LET THOSE GO… FOR NOW.

The things we CAN’T CHANGE…
we MUST let them go.
Letting go is a CHOICE.
It’s a choice for FREEDOM from burden
and a choice for PEACE and SERENITY.
Remember, “God grant me the serenity
to ACCEPT the things I cannot change.”
ACCEPTANCE is what gives us serenity
EVEN WHEN our lives are in turmoil.
It’s how we CHOOSE to THINK about things
and RESPOND to things
that ultimately affects HOW WE FEEL about things.
We can CHOOSE to be AT PEACE with our situations
or we can CHOOSE to be in turmoil.
We CANNOT LIVE NEW LIFE if we live in the PAST.
CHOOSE to let some things go
so you can GO ON with life…
and LIVE NEW LIFE!

Extra margin text from this section of Chapter 12:

We weren’t born this way.
We became this way
because of an Out-of-Control lifestyle.

Our people want us ALIVE and WELL,
so we need to bury the guilt and pain that’s killing us.
We cannot be the person we were meant to be
or live the life we were meant to live
if we are carrying around what makes us wish we were dead.

The only way to start over
is to START OVER.
We do that by accepting

what needs to be acceptedand by moving on down the Recovery Path.

This text was adapted from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook – “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. – copyright 2009 – Recovery Works Publications -

Question: Is Spirituality A Major Component Of Your Work – Response: The Role Of Spirituality In The Development Of The DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook

Spirituality IS a major component of my work because it is a major part of who I am as a person and a major driving force for how I live my life.  The DBT-CBT recovery workbook that I wrote was initially written as a Christian DBT-CBT workbook; however, due to the biblical focus, I was not able to use it in the therapy group I conduct at the state hospital.   At the hospital, I was using packets of information (handouts) that summarized the major DBT-CBT concepts without spiritual references.  The patients continually asked for more information to study outside of group, to work on at home when discharged, and to share with their families…while all my time and energy was being spent on developing the Christian workbook.   The pressure mounted and I felt I had to leave the Christian project and develop a secular workbook for use with my patients.  Believe it or not, I feel God blessed that endeavor and guided the writing of the secular workbook.

Here’s the brief story.  While working on the Christian workbook, I became pregnant at the ripe age of 43 and naturally lost the energy and focus on the workbook.  I ended up losing the baby and did not immediately resume work on the workbook after physically recovering.  Within months, the internal (and external) pressure to write a workbook for patient use was mounting and by the following January, I was absolutely tormented by it…I had no peace.  I was so burdened by my lack of focus on the workbook that I had to complete a Wise Mind Worksheet to deal with it!  Of course, the end result was to set a date to re-engage in the writing process, but to abandon the Christian workbook to focus on a secular one.  I finally said, “Okay God, I’ll do it…I’ll start on January…” and I specified the date.

Amazingly, at that moment of submission of my will, I lost that pressure…that tormenting burden…and I finally felt “at peace.”  Oddly enough, as I write this now, I realize the date set  was the time period when the baby was due…towards the end of January that year…pretty cool synchronicity!

When the agreed upon start date came, I got back into the workbook as I agreed to do.  I took out all the biblical references and began writing it for a secular audience.  I remained insanely focused on the project for the following 23 months…until I “got ‘er done!”  That was 23 months of near “24-7” focus on the workbook during non-hospital job waking hours!  Everywhere I went, the workbook went…kid sport practices, rodeos, traveling even 45 miles from home, “vacations,” and even to Six Flags!  I said it was an “insane” focus!

Once the book was in print, I’d flip through it…and would be stunned at the amount of work and time that went into it.  It is astounding.  I’ve often said of myself that “I was born to work” and I’ve recently decided that my degree of task energy and persistence is a God given quality…because it is soooo unnatural…and if I had it my way, I’d play and entertain myself instead!  I whole-heartedly believe that God is the driving force that has enabled me the capacity to pull off the projects I have pulled off in my life!  Without the hand of God in my life, I really don’t think I would have made it through all the life experiences I have been through…the good ones and the bad ones.

All in all, spirituality is a major driving force in my life…something that defines my life…and thus flows into all aspects of my work…and not just in the form of “works”…but also in how I choose to interact with the people that are a part of my life…including the patients I serve!

What about you?  How does your spirituality affect your work?

Working Through Verbal and Emotional Abuse: Challenging the Lies We’ve Come to Believe Using DBT-CBT Therapy Techniques

The following is an amended excerpt from the DBT-CBT Workbook. It is from Chapter 8, “Challenging Extreme Judgments,” which focuses on the negative things we say to ourselves (and believe) and the negative things others have said of us that we come to believe as truths about us.

When we’re mad or hurt, we sometimes say very hurtful things to ourselves and others. This is Emotion-Driven Behavior. Our hurtful words are based on how we’re thinking and feeling in the Heat-of-the-Moment! They’re ANGRY WORDS. We’re not in Rational Mind and we’re not speaking truth. We’re expressing HOW WE FEEL about people and things WHEN WE’RE MAD OR HURT! Words driven by a heated Emotional Mind SHOULD NOT BE TRUSTED!

The purpose of this chapter is to recognize that these statements are borne from Emotional Mind…an angry, depressed, or discouraged state of mind. They are Emotion-Driven Lies…not Rational Mind truths. The worksheet for this chapter, “The Challenging Negative Judgments of Me Worksheet” leads us through the process of challenging these lies through Rational Mind. We identify a particularly hurtful statement that has negatively impacted our self-esteem and self-concept and we identify characteristics of ourselves that prove that we are not that way. Then, we are challenged to answer the question…”What is rational to believe…that statement that came out of the mouth of someone who was upset and irrational in the emotional moment…or all these facts about ourselves that prove otherwise and the hundreds of people that agree we really are this kind of person?”

THESE TRUTHS SHOW HOW MUCH OF A LIE the negative judgment is…and has been. The judgment was NOT based on truth. It was an EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE MADE UP about us…and WE HAVE LIVED SO MUCH OF OUR LIFE BASED ON THIS LIE. We have believed the lie. We have NOTICED EVERYTHING that supported the lie, and discounted, overlooked, and IGNORED ALL THE THINGS that challenged the lie…all the things that prove we’re NOT stupid, worthless, or undesirable. LET THAT SINK IN. What was said about you is A BOLD-FACED LIE. IT IS NOT TRUTH. We know that now because THE FACTS PROVE IT! Anytime those old feelings come up, be ever so Mindful of the facts and the TRUTH. TAKE A STAND and RATIONALLY CHALLENGE THE LIE…right then and there. Don’t EVER let yourself get away with believing that lie again. RATIONALLY CONFRONT IT and DEFEND YOURSELF!

The following is the text that follows this worksheet and discussion directly about it.

APPLICATION: The Origin of the Judgmental Lies

Most of the negative judgments made about us…were first said to us when we were young. They were NOT based on anything about us…not a character trait or a personality feature.

When someone tells a 3 or 4 year old child that they’re worthless, stupid, or will never amount to anything…or they’re too much of this or too little of that…or no one will ever love them…IT’S AN EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE. How in the world can someone know something like that about a very young child? This type of meanness, ugliness, and hurtfulness SPEAKS VOLUMES about the person making the statements…AND SAYS NOTHING ABOUT THE CHARACTER OF THE CHILD.

We know that when WE make ugly and insulting comments to others, we’re being verbally abusive. Oftentimes, we’re mad and we say these things in anger. Likewise, THE PERSON saying ugly things to us is UPSET, too. Often, THEY FEEL stupid, irresponsible, or worthless and THEY TAKE IT OUT ON US. Most of them were emotionally abused…and are just MINDLESSLY PASSING IT ON to the next generation. Also, they may suffer the moodiness and impulsivity that goes with drugs and alcohol, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, etc. For whatever reason, they’re BIG-TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND and they’re being verbally and emotionally ABUSIVE to us. When we’re YOUNG or VULNERABLE, (22) WE TRUST THEIR OPINIONS and come to BELIEVE what they’re saying. However, WE’RE BELIEVING AN EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE.

When we did “The Challenging Negative Judgments About Me Worksheet,” we CHALLENGED the EMOTION-DRIVEN LIE by looking at the Big Picture of Our Life THROUGH THE EYES AND TRUTH OF RATIONAL MIND. When we review this worksheet and consider all the things about us that support we’re capable people with worth and value, we’re functioning in Rational Mind. When we make a DECISION that WE’LL NO LONGER JUDGE OURSELVES in a FALSE and HURTFUL manner, we’re functioning in WISE MIND. When we’re DETERMINED that ANY TIME those old thoughts or labels COME TO MIND, we’ll CHALLENGE THEM and REMIND OURSELVES of all the things about us that PROVE otherwise, then, we’ll be USING WISE MIND TO MINDFULLY PROTECT OUR PEACE AND STABILITY.

ANY TIME, ANY ONE of those NASTY JUDGMENTS comes into our thoughts and begins to hurt us, WE NEED TO CHALLENGE THEM…right then n’ there. (23) We need to STOMP THEM OUT and REFUSE to allow them to CONTROL US any longer. They are lies. WE HAVE BEEN LIVING A LIE. We have perceived ourselves based on a lie. DO NOT ALLOW THESE LIES TO CONTROL YOUR LIFE ANY LONGER! DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO TAKE AWAY your peace and stability! They’re things Coming At Us that have NO PLACE in our Inner Circle.  TAKE A STAND against these lies…and FIGHT FOR YOUR RECOVERY!

APPLICATION: Stupid Is as Stupid Does?

At this point, some folks say, “When they said that, I had done something stupid or irresponsible.” Remember, we’re human. We’re not perfect. Things WILL happen.  That’s our humanity! One stupid behavior or 10 or 12 of them means we did one stupid behavior or 10 or 12 of them. Those things describe our behavior in-the-moment or the month. They DO NOT define WHO WE ARE as a person or WHAT WE’RE CAPABLE OF. They DO NOT define our character or our make-up. THEY DEFINE AN event, action, or a behavior…NOT our WHOLE person. Just because the 8th grade educated shift team leader made a mistake, that doesn’t mean he’s stupid. That means HE MADE A MISTAKE…THAT DAY. That mistake and an 8th grade education DOESN’T describe what he’s capable of. Those things DO NOT define his character or describe everything he has ever accomplished in life. HE IS NOT STUPID. He simply made AN ERROR.(24) Stupid ISN’T as stupid does!

There may be times in our life when we make many errors…even when we totally mess things up for a year or two by making one bad decision after another. DOES THAT MEAN WE’RE STUPID? NOOOOOO. It means we’re DYSREGULATED (25) and LIVING Big-Time in Emotional Mind. It means we’re making a lot of Emotion-Driven decisions which ARE STUPID. That DOESN’T MEAN WE ARE STUPID…you know why?    Explain. _________________________________________________________________________
_________________________________________________________________________

We’re NOT stupid or clueless. In our gut, we usually know our behavior is going to cause problems BEFORE we do it! We have Wise Mind going on, but we’re NOT PAYING ATTENTION TO IT. We’re NOT Following Through With What We Know is in our best interests…because WE’RE BIG-TIME in Emotional Mind! WE’RE  DYSREGULATED… we’re LIVING IN-THE-MOMENT. We’re uncomfortable…we hurt…we’re not worrying about tomorrow. We’re living for TODAY…and if it feels good…we’re going to do it!

Are we STUPID because we do it?  Explain. ___________________________________
____________________________________________________________________

No, we’re NOT STUPID. We’re ACTING in poor judgment. We KNOW better.  We know right from wrong…and good from bad. We DO stupid things because EMOTIONAL MIND IS DRIVING. That’s why we SPIN-OUT and LOSE CONTROL.  That’s why we wreck-out and our life becomes a total wreck.

So, does that mean we have poor judgment?  Explain. __________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________

NO…because WE HAVE GOOD JUDGMENT! We KNEW it was stupid or of poor judgment…but we did it anyway! We KNEW it was going to end poorly, but we DIDN’T CARE AT THE TIME. We just did what we WANTED to do…
and no one or nothing was going to stop us. We were being VERY WILLFUL.

What we did was EMOTION-DRIVEN Behavior. We do all types of MINDLESS and IMPULSIVE things when we’re acting on Emotional Mind…ESPECIALLY WHEN WE’RE IN A DESPERATE STATE, like desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, or desperate to be held and loved on. It’s NOT STUPIDITY. It’s DESPERATION. You’ve heard the saying, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.” Well, desperate measures often involve risky things that are likely to have a bad outcome. So, BECAUSE WE’VE DONE SOMETHING STUPID or two years or ten years worth, that DOESN’T MEAN WE ARE STUPID. That’s because WE KNOW BETTER.

WE JUST DO IT ANYWAY! Gladly, this workbook is about GETTING CONTROL of our BEHAVIOR and our LIFE! And, we do that by Turning On RATIONAL MIND and WISE MIND to REGULATE and CONTROL our dysregulated and Out-of-Control emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior.

Footnotes:

22- If we’re older when these lies were spoken, they usually came from an abusive spouse or romantic partner.  Over time, we’ll realize these people were angry, mean, harsh, moody, and unfair.  We KNOW their words were Emotion-Driven.  We KNOW they’re abusive, mean, and critical people, but for some reason, we believe their ugly opinions.  We believe they’re right and other people are wrong.  Go figure.  The truth, we were vulnerable and they took advantage of it.  Often, they were mean to “keep us in our place”…in a “downed position” with low self-esteem.  They wanted us to believe we ARE stupid, unworthy, and not capable…so we would never have the strength to leave them.

23- Whenever a negative judgment begins to bother you, either complete “The Challenging Negative Judgments of Me Worksheet” in your mind or on paper.  Use this RECOVERY TOOL to challenge those lies!

24- I’m pretty smart with a Ph.D…that just gives me a license to be  Piled Higher and Deeper in errors!  Lord knows if it’s 10AM and I haven’t made an error yet, I must still be asleep!

25- Dysregulated – (dis-reg-you-lated) – not in control of ourselves… we’re not able to regulate or control our behavior.

Extra margin text below:

No matter how smart we are or how much psychological stuff we know, we can get side-swiped and wrecked-out by a hurtful comment.

When we believe these lies and base our sense of self and identity on these lies, we’re viewing ourselves through Emotional Mind.  We’re not dealing with the facts and the truth.  We’re overlooking, ignoring, and denying all the things which tell us we aren’t that way…and we’re focusing on ALL the things which suggest we may be that way.  We’re ignoring what Rational Mind is telling us and we’re viewing ourselves through the distorted lenses of Emotional Mind.

We have thought poorly of ourselves and have treated ourselves poorly because of a lie.

We ARE going to do some stupid and thoughtless things now and then, but that doesn’t mean we’re a stupid and thoughtless person.  It means we DID SOMETHING that was stupid or thoughtless.

We ACTED in poor judgment.  We went against our good judgment.

“Then how do we describe this stupid, poor judgment behavior?!”   We describe it as DESPERATE behavior.  It’s not an issue of smarts.  It’s an issue of being desperate and dysregulated!  It’s an issue of being OUT-OF-CONTROL! We know better, but we do desperate, self-defeating things anyway.

This text was adapted from the DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook – “Out-of-Control:  A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”  by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.  – copyright 2009 – Recovery Works Publications

Using Rational Mind to Challenge the Emotional Mind Lies We Tell Ourselves That Sabotage Our Self-Confidence and Recovery: A View of Addiction Recovery from a DBT-CBT Therapy Perspective

Here’s an “adapted” excerpt from the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” therapy workbook.  It’s from Chapter 7, the Rational Mind chapter.  This chapter discusses Rational Mind in detail and offers many Rational Mind challenges for the Emotional Driven Lies we tell ourselves AND WE BELIEVE…ones that often sabotage our self-esteem and our recovery.

The Self-Fulfilling Prophecy of Failure:
“I expect to fail so I don’t try very hard …so, I fail.”

SKILL BUILDER: Failing to Succeed…or Successful Failures

Consider the lies we tell ourselves about success and failure, like,

“I’ll NEVER be  able to do it.”

“Everything I try gets screwed-up somehow.”

What do you say about your failures?  ____________________________
________________________________________________________

The truth…we MAY HAVE failed at MANY tasks.  If so, we need to rationally understand why.  Quite often, we fail because we DON’T TRY to succeed.  We “KNOW” we can’t do it…so we DON’T TRY, or we DON’T TRY VERY HARD.

Despite USUALLY giving things ONLY A HALF-HEARTED EFFORT, we may recall some times WHEN WE REALLY TRIED, but failed anyway.  BUT, DON’T THINK we’re off the hook because of some FULL EFFORT failures.

WE DON’T GET TO STOP TRYING just because when we’ve REALLY TRIED, we’ve still failed!  Rational Mind would inform us that MOST PEOPLE WHO SUCCEED HAVE FAILED MANY TIMES.  There are many TRUE stories to support this TRUTH.

Which stories have you heard…about people who FINALLY SUCCEED AFTER A LONG STRING OF FAILURES? _____________________________
_____________________________________________________

Abraham Lincoln ran for MANY political positions and lost MANY TIMES before he ever WON an election.  The ONE he won was THE BIG ONE…the PRESIDENTIAL election!  There are MANY stories about business leaders who had MANY failed businesses before they hit it big!  Henry Ford went bankrupt 5-6 times because of failed businesses before he gained success in the automotive industry.  The Heinz company had the same kind of start.  Have you read that Oprah was fired from a reporter’s job because she wasn’t right for TV?  Somebody certainly misjudged her!

Some of our greatest leaders and wealthiest people failed many times
before they achieved great success.

When we fail, we need to SEEK AN UNDERSTANDING of WHY we failed.  We need to LEARN FROM IT and CORRECT WHAT WE’RE DOING.  We need to change or adjust our plan to deal with what went wrong.  Successful “failures” start with PLAN A and go to PLAN B, C, D, E…and so on until things work out!  Despite their failures, THEY KEEP ON KEEPING ON!

It’s also important to be Mindful of our successes and accomplishments and to note WE’VE ALL HAD SOME!  We also need to realize that WHEN WE’VE TRIED…when we’ve REALLY STUCK WITH IT, we’ve overcome challenges…and WE HAVE BEEN SUCCESSFUL. Consider the 8-18 attempts at recovery that it takes people ON AVERAGE to become clean n’ sober.  Through our recovery attempts, we learn about our triggers and relapse patterns.  We learn we REALLY HAVE TO change the things in our life that we DON’T WANT TO CHANGE…things that we’ve refused to change, like friendships, activities, and abusive or conflict-filled relationships.  Because of our repeated failures at recovery, we FINALLY SUCCEED!  That’s because we’ve revised our Recovery Plan SO MANY TIMES that we FINALLY GET ENOUGH OF THE NECESSARY CHANGES made!  We’re hard-headed and we’ve got to learn from OUR experiences…and in the world of recovery…these experiences ARE OFTEN RELAPSES.

Does this information change the way you think about your “failures”?  If so, explain.  ______________________________________________
___________________________________________________

Changing our LIFESTYLE and our LIFE IS VERY DIFFICULT.
We need to ACCEPT OUR FAILURES

and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part
of the LEARNING PROCESS…
IF we learn from them.

It’s clear that Emotion-Driven Thoughts like, “I can’t do it. Why try?” are lies we tell ourselves. What’s the truth? _______________________________
______________________________________________________

The truth is, WHEN WE KEEP TRYING, things FINALLY work out.  Sometimes, we don’t succeed because we aren’t going about it the right way.  Therefore, we need to get a NEW PLAN.  Sometimes, we try to do more than is do-able at one time.  We plunge head first when we’d be better off wading in and taking smaller steps!  There are many reasons why we haven’t reached our goals.  Fortunately, most of these problems can be overcome with PERSISTENCE and a REVISED GAME PLAN!

Footnote: This footnote is “margin text” from the workbook alike the dark red inserts in the text above…however, these weren’t so easily woven in!  This first one relates to the 8-18 tries at recovery it takes on average to recover from substance abuse.

“Some say, ‘Been there, done 14, I’ve got to be real close to making it!’ Folks who are new to recovery are discouraged, ‘I don’t want to do this that many times.’ Be Mindful that 8-18 is an average. Some make it on the 1st try (they need to write the book!), others on the 25th. Some make it in 3 tries, others in 20. Bear in mind though…these numbers don’t mean it’s okay to relapse 17 times and then work real hard on the 18th try!”

These are “sayings” in the margin that go along with the text:

“If we don’t put forth a FULL effort,
we’ll never REALLY KNOW if we can succeed.”

“We never fail until we quit trying.
Success comes to those who are determined
to overcome obstacles in their path.”

When we understand that our failures are part of the learning process,
then we can constructively accept our failures and learn from them.

We’re so willful and hard-headed about recovery…
we won’t take someone’s advice or learn from THEIR experiences.
We have to learn from OUR personal experiences…
which is often OUR failures!

A mistake is only a mistake
if we fail to learn from it!
When we learn from our experiences,
our failures become a stepping stone toward success!
Therefore, a recovery goal is to Turn On Rational Mind to challenge our “failure” lies…
and to Turn On Wise Mind to make some adjustments to our Game Plan!
That’s because WE haven’t failed, our plan has!

Hope you enjoyed this blog entry and that it helps to challenge destructive “failure” thoughts.  It took half of forever to format this…the format of the workbook doesn’t cut n’ paste very well…or at least I haven’t learned yet how to do it more efficiently!  Life is one big learning curve and I guess sometimes we’ve just got to hold on…persevere…and enjoy the ride!