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!

How Could Someone Try to Kill Themselves: Suicide Attempts and Doing the Unthinkable – from a DBT-CBT Therapy Perspective

When Emotional Mind drives and Rational Mind is left on the side of the road…

When folks are moderately, even severely depressed (say up to an 8 or an 8.5 on a scale of 1-10), they are “Big-Time in Emotional Mind” but they still have some Rational Mind going on (say 85% Emotional Mind and 15% Rational Mind).  Through the small degree of Rational Mind, they maintain some contact with reality and have some mindfulness of the big picture of their life. For instance, they still recognize they have something to live for…they still have some holds on life…and although their grip is loosening and they may be barely holding on…with at least some Rational Mind going on, they recognize the basics…like they have kids to live for…or pets…or their dying parent (examples).  However, as the depression worsens, Emotional Mind intensifies, and Rational Mind further fades…and they lose awareness of these reasons to live.

Patients in various ways have explained how this happens.  They relate that when they made that final decision to kill themselves…to enact that near fatal behavior…they weren’t  thinking…that previously they thought about their kids, their spouse, or other holds on life and they struggled to stay alive…but then, something happened and they no longer thought about these things.

One patient so well described this to me, I haven’t forgotten it.  She said that as her depression deepened, it was like she was going further and further down a well…and the deeper she went, the less she could see out.  She related that she got so far down, she was surrounded by darkness…she could no longer see nor feel…and she lost touch with the love she had for her kids and concern about what would happen to them.  She cried intensely and said that when she did what she did, thoughts of her kids did not cross her mind.  It was utterly heartbreaking, and yes, as a therapist and despite trying to hold my tears back, they rolled out of my eyes.  I stood up and hugged her as she wept and gently rocked her to help soothe her through the pain. It was one of those heart-wrenching therapy moments when I had no words to comfort her and could only pray for her self-forgiveness and healing.  She so loved her babies and could not understand how she could have tried to end her life.  With Rational Mind going on, she realized she did the unthinkable.

I believe that she became 100% (or near 100%) Emotional Mind…and Rational Mind was essentially turned off.   Without Rational Mind, she was not connected or in contact with the reality of her life and what really mattered to her.  It was like a Rational Mind black-out.   She was no longer mindful of the big picture of her life and the reasons to continue the fight.  And we always ask, “God, how could she have done that, she has kids” or “How could he have done that knowing his family would find him.”  They weren’t thinking…that part of their brain was turned off.

Based on the recovery workbook by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. -<span
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The DBT-CBT Recovery Workbook Focuses On Self-Destructive Behaviors

DBT-CBT is a life-changing recovery program that inspires people
to make the life changes that will change their lives.
This program has turned many defeated hearts into empowered spirits
that are psychologically prepared to take on the challenges of
GETTING ON  and STAYING ON the Recovery Path.

Come join us in our journey.

This is a workbook for recovery from a variety of Self-Destructive Coping Behaviors. The philosophy of DBT-CBT is that “Many of our “abnormal” behaviors are normal given our experiences. They once served as survival skills.  However, their period of usefulness is long over.  We’ve overused these coping behaviors…and now, they’re causing us great pain and they’re destroying our lives.”

This workbook explains why we do the things we do…and why we keep doing these things even though they cause us more pain and problems.  It’s about what we do in the heat-of-the-moment…the emotional moment.  It’s about what happens when EMOTIONAL MIND drives and RATIONAL MIND takes a backseat…and WISE MIND is left on the side of the road.

When we’re filled with upsetting emotions, we often do things for quick relief…like drugs and alcohol; suicide attempts; cutting and other forms of self-mutilation; aggression; temper tantrums; walking off and leaving the situation; withdrawal; overeating or not eating enough; overshopping; “sleeping around”; rebound relationships; gambling; and other risky and reckless behaviors. The Nature of the Problem is…the things we do to feel better end up multiplying and intensifying our problems. Our Destructive Coping Behaviors help us to cope in the Heat-of-the-Moment…but, they have many negative consequences. They make our current problems more severe…and they CREATE many new problems for us to struggle with.   Over time, our lives spiral OUT-OF-CONTROL and into a CYCLE OF SUFFERING.

This workbook provides useful tools, attitudes, and plans for changing how we respond to life.  Our goal is to GET CONTROL of our OUT-OF-CONTROL emotions, behaviors, and thinking. We do this by PARTICIPATING EFFECTIVELY in our lives and by using LIFE-ENHANCING COPING MECHANISMS to deal with our pain and problems.  Our goal is to MINDFULLY PROTECT OUR PEACE AND STABILITY and the BIG PICTURE OF OUR LIFE.  Our goal is to STOP the CYCLE OF SUFFERING.

A Partial Relapse or a Full Relapse – Using Rational Mind and Wise Mind to Tame an Out-of-Control Emotional Mind (A DBT-CBT Workbook Perspective)

The following is “Pete’s Story” – an excerpt from the DBT-CBT Out-of-Control Workbook which highlights a “real life” relapse experience.  This relapse is processed using principles and concepts from the DBT-CBT Recovery Program, especially the three mind states of DBT.  It’s an example of DBT-CBT “In Action.”  The content for this post is the opening for Chapter 7, the “Rational Mind” chapter of the workbook.  As it is from Chapter 7, it refers to things discussed in Chapters 1-6.  So, if you feel a little lost reading it…that’s why!

Chapter 7 – RATIONAL MIND

We’ve been working with Rational Mind (1) throughout this book, so you’re somewhat familiar with this mind state. Rational Mind is the part of us that processes life in a logical, legalistic, fact-driven, reality-oriented, and cut n’ dry manner. In other words, Rational Mind uses reasoning, it respects rules, it’s guided by truth, it deals with how things really are, and it’s the calm, cool, intellectual, and unemotional part of us!

Emotional Mind is driven by how WE SEE AND EXPERIENCE the world while Rational Mind is driven by how THE WORLD REALLY IS!

The Purpose of Rational Mind

A Recovery Goal is PREVENTION of Destructive Emotion-Driven Behavior. We need to STOP OURSELVES before we do what we really feel like doing!
Rational Mind helps us to gain control before things get Out-of-Control.

When we’re in a troubling Emotional Mind state, the first step for gaining control is Mindfulness. We need to be aware of what’s going on in Emotional Mind. We need to be Mindful of our Raw Emotions, Emotion-Driven Thoughts, and our desired Emotion-Driven Behavior. This includes awareness of our feelings, the thoughts racing through our mind, and what we’re thinking about doing! Once we become aware of what’s going on in Emotional Mind, we need to TURN ON RATIONAL MIND to look at our situation logically and realistically.

Rational Mind helps us to know what is true and factual.
It helps us to perceive the reality of our situations and our life.
The reality of Rational Mind is generally quite different from the picture Emotional Mind paints!

Rational Mind helps us to understand THE BIG PICTURE OF THE SITUATION and the TRUTH about what’s going on. This helps us to challenge our Emotion-Driven Thoughts and to get our emotions MORE IN LINE with the REALITY of the situation. This REDUCES our emotional distress because we FOCUS on the HERE-AND-NOW situation RATHER THAN EVERYTHING that has EVER HAPPENED to us.

Rational Mind also considers the Big Picture of Our Life and REMINDS us of the CONSEQUENCES we’ll SUFFER if we ACT ON destructive Emotion-Driven impulses. WHEN we’re USING Rational Mind to deal with what’s going on in Emotional Mind, WISE MIND TURNS ON and BRINGS US to a GAME PLAN for effectively dealing with our situation. Our Recovery Goal is to PARTICIPATE EFFECTIVELY in our life… so we’re MANAGING and DEALING WITH our problems RATHER THAN CAUSING OURSELVES MORE PROBLEMS!

APPLICATION: The Meeting of the Minds

The following story, “Pete’s Story,” is a good example of how the three Mind States work together in real life.

Pete’s Story

Pete has a lot of stress and family conflict caused by his responses to life. His family has allowed him to stay in their garage apartment “for the last time.” His probation requires him to be employed. He doesn’t have a good work history so it took a while to find a job. He just bought a used car and now has visitation with his kids because he’s paying child support. Things are pretty good in his life… though not the greatest. His boss accused him of doing something he didn’t do. He blew up and walked off the job. He went to an old hangout and started drinking again and snorted some coke. Thoughts began churning in his mind. He is very worried and is thinking the worst, “My family is going to kick me out and I’ll be homeless again. I’ll lose my car without income and I’ll lose visits with my kids. If I get called for a UA (2), it’ll be dirty and my probation will get revoked (3)…especially since I’m now unemployed. Then I won’t see my kids for a long time.” He’s very upset with himself and thinks, “I am such a failure. I screw everything up. My family will NEVER let me hear the end of this. I should just kill myself. I can’t handle all this crap again.” Thoughts are racing through his mind. His emotions intensify and he becomes more and more upset. He begins to panic. He is desperate for a way out and considers going back to live with his ex-girlfriend. He’s afraid of doing that because she still uses drugs. He panics even more and all he can think about is killing himself. He ruminates about this stuff for hours and hours. It’s now 3AM and he’s worried about going home…so late…so upset…and so messed up.

Does Pete’s story seem like Real Life or does it seem like an exaggeration to make a good story? _____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

Have you been in a state like this before about a lost job or some other major problem? If so, describe how your experience is similar to his. ________________________________________________________________ ______________________________________________________________________________________

The quality of our life comes down to two choices.
We can LIVE IN Emotional Mind and ALLOW our life to fall apart
OR we can TURN ON Rational Mind and Wise Mind
to get a Game Plan for dealing with our problems.
The choice is to stay on the life-enhancing Recovery Path
or to go the way of Relapse Route.

SKILL BUILDER: Pete’s State of Mind

Re-read Pete’s story and UNDERLINE the parts that describe what’s going on in his Emotional Mind. Put a BOX around the parts that are driven by Rational Mind.

You probably had no trouble identifying what was going on in Emotional Mind. You may have had some trouble deciding if his statements about getting kicked out of his apartment, being homeless…and losing his car, probation, and visits with his kids were Rational Mind or Emotional Mind.

What did you decide? Explain what you based your decision on? ________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

When he went to the bar, he was upset.
then he began drinking and drugging,
then he became hopeless, desperate, and PANICKED.

Mindfulness of the consequences suggests he was in Rational Mind. Some think he was in Emotional Mind because it seemed like he was catastrophizing4 how bad things could get. However, given his life situation, his worries WERE based on truth and reality!

A reason to suspect he was Big-Time in Emotional Mind is…WISE MIND DIDN’T TURN ON and OFFER LIFE-ENHANCING SOLUTIONS. All he did was ruminate for hours about consequences and finding a way out…NOT A WAY THROUGH. He was panicking! All the COCAINE and ALCOHOL did was PUSH HIM DEEPER and DEEPER into Emotional Mind…and farther and farther away from Rational Mind and Wise Mind. He couldn’t think straight. The MORE he ruminated, drank, and snorted, the MORE DEPRESSED, ANXIOUS, WORRIED, and PARANOID he became.

In order to think straight,
we’ve got to be straight!

The Big Picture of Pete’s Story suggests he was Big-Time in Emotional Mind. He had SOME Rational Mind going on…but, not much. He was AWARE of the consequences of losing his job, he KNEW he should not return to his ex, and he KNEW his behavior would cause family problems. He was probably 80%-20% Emotional Mind – Rational Mind. Wise Mind flickered on and encouraged him NOT to call his ex. Not having that option…and having more time to drink and snort, he panicked even more…and came to believe that suicide was his best option.

Isn’t it odd how we can go from bad to worse…
and we begin to think the worst option is the best?

Given Pete’s story IS Real Life, how do you think this part of his story ends? _______________________________________________________________________________________
_______________________________________________________________________________________

He’ll either do something MORE DESTRUCTIVE, like a suicide attempt, driving drunk, or a full-blown relapse OR he’ll do something LIFE-ENHANCING like staying safe and sleeping it off in the car and TURNING ON Rational Mind WHEN HE COMES TO…TO GET HIS LIFE BACK IN ORDER.

Pete’s story tells about the “Something That Happens” on the Recovery Path and the two choices we have. Pete CHOSE the RELAPSE ROUTE in the Heat-of-the-Moment. HOWEVER, he DOESN’T HAVE TO stay on that path. He can call for help at 3AM or crawl into his car and sleep it off.

SKILL BUILDER: How to Get Control Once We’ve Lost Control

Let’s suppose he chose the Recovery Path at 3AM.  When he comes to and is able to shake off the cobwebs later that day, what might Rational Mind say to him? ____________________________________________________________________________
____________________________________________________________________________

Rational Mind might lead him to think,

“I blew up and walked off the job and I drank and used coke last night. I was scared. I freaked out…but this DOESN’T HAVE TO BE the end of the world. It’s time for DAMAGE CONTROL. MY PRIORITY RIGHT NOW is to get a job. Whether it’s my old job back or a new one…I need to act fast! No doubt my folks know Something Happened because I didn’t come home last night and I’m home now when I’m supposed to be at work. I need a plan for dealing with them, too, so I don’t lose housing.”

At this point, Emotional Mind will probably rear up with all kinds of self-defeating thoughts and feelings. Pete MUST TURN ON Rational Mind to Fight for his peace and stability.  He cannot ALLOW Emotional Mind to control the course of his life.   When a destructive thought comes up, Pete needs to remind himself that HIS NUMBER ONE PRIORITY is to STAY ON the RECOVERY PATH and that HE CAN AND WILL HANDLE this situation. He needs to tell himself that he STRUCK OUT last night, but there’s still MORE INNINGS in the game. He’ll have to challenge the destructive Emotion-Driven Thoughts AS THEY COME UP and REMAIN FOCUSED on TRUTH, REALITY, DAMAGE CONTROL, and PROBLEM-SOLVING.

At this point, Wise Mind will kick in to help him with a plan of action. What might Wise Mind suggest? ______________________________________________________________________
______________________________________________________________________

Wise Mind might suggest he visit his boss to apologize for blowing up and to ask for his job back. Wise Mind might suggest he TRY to assure his boss he didn’t do what he was accused of doing. Wise Mind would likely remind him if “Plan A” doesn’t work, he could apply for dozens of other jobs until he gets one…and that IT’S NO TIME TO BE PICKY! Wise Mind might encourage him to explain the situation to his parents…to let them know HE SLIPPED…but was BACK ON the RECOVERY PATH. If needed, he could tell them he’ll have a job quickly, REGARDLESS OF WHAT HE HAD TO DO. Wise Mind would likely inform him that it’s unlikely he’ll get called for a UA over the next few days and to pray on that! If he did get called for one, Wise Mind might suggest telling his probation officer what happened and the POSITIVE WAY HE’S DEALING WITH IT. Wise Mind would have MANY DAMAGE CONTROL and PROBLEM-SOLVING IDEAS for GETTING RECOVERY BACK ON TRACK!

When we mess up, we don’t give up.
We STAY IN the game even if it’s our toughest inning ever.

If at the end of the next day, he didn’t get his job back and he didn’t get a new one, Emotional Mind could easily start the self-defeating rumination and worry process. What could he do to help himself if this starts up? ________________________________________________________________________________________
________________________________________________________________________________________

Rather than spending days worrying about a catastrophe happening, Wise Mind would inform him that he’d be BETTER OFF PREVENTING ONE by focusing on a Game Plan! Wise Mind would strongly encourage him to chill-out and focus on Damage Control, problem-solving, and the use of Life-Enhancing Coping Behaviors (5) to avoid destructive worry.

Through Rational Mind, he could TAKE NOTE of the PRODUCTIVE things he’s done the last two days INCLUDING his MAJOR SUCCESS with QUICKLY GETTING BACK ON THE RECOVERY PATH and preventing a full-blown relapse. He could LIST HIS GOALS for the next day and a PLAN OF ACTION for the rest of the week. Since money is tight, he could WORK OUT A PLAN for paying what HAS TO BE paid. He could DISTRACT himself with POSITIVE ACTIVITIES (support group meetings like AA, helping his family prepare a meal, visiting with a recovery friend, etc.). He could SEEK TEMPORARY WORK cleaning yards, painting his parents home, and whatever else he can come up with to earn money and to KEEP HIS MIND BUSY. He could even talk with businesses about hiring him for a day or two to do “odd jobs.”

This WORK-UP of Pete’s story shows how RATIONAL MIND helps to CONTROL the INTENSITY and NEGATIVITY of an UPSET EMOTIONAL MIND! Rational Mind DOESN’T BUY INTO a “I’m a total screw-up. This is going to ruin everything. I can’t deal with it. I should kill myself.” mentality. Rational Mind CHALLENGES panic and negativity by looking at the situation in a calm, NON-EMOTIONAL, realistic, logical, and truthful manner. In the upcoming sections, we’ll look at some common Emotional Mind experiences from the viewpoint of Rational Mind. We’ll see how Rational Mind TAKES the POWER and NEGATIVITY OUT OF a destructive emotional experience.

Rational Mind tames what comes out of Emotional Mind.
Rational Mind pulls on the reins and helps to get control
of what is going Out-of-Control.

Footnotes

1- Dr. Linehan calls this mind state “Reasonable Mind.” On page 65 of her Skills Training Manual, she states, “This is your rational, thinking, logical mind. It is the part of you that plans and evaluates things logically. It is your cool part.”
2- UA – urinalysis – a urine test to check for drugs or alcohol.
3- Probation revoked – to lose the privilege of being on probation. Folks have to serve their sentence in jail if their probation is revoked.
4- Catastrophizing – (cuh-tah-stro-fi-zing) –when we’re focusing on the very worst things that could happen. It’s a form of the word, catastrophe – (cuh-tah-stro-fee).
5- Being busy with problem-solving…and working towards the solution is a powerful coping tool. Getting a newspaper and a phone book and making a list of jobs to apply for and businesses to call and visit is solution-focused. Visiting the employment agency and ironing a decent set of clothes for job hunting is very constructive, too!

How to Motivate People to Change – Some Keys to Recovery from a DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy) Recovery Program

From the perspective of a psychologist in a state hospital treatment setting and a population of individuals who have struggled with recovery over time, I believe insight and understanding is a key to creating a desire to change. I believe it greatly helps people to see the big picture of their life and come to an understanding of why their life is like it is…that is, why they have lost “everything” or most everything they’ve ever loved or cherished…or why things always end up so bad…or why anything good never lasts. I believe folks need to grasp that this life outcome is a product of how they have tried to cope with upsetting life events over time…and the way their life is today…is because of the progressive and worsening consequences of their self-destructive coping mechanisms (drugs, alcohol, verbal and physical aggression, suicide threats and attempts, rebound relationships, and other emotion-driven coping choices). I believe that once they grasp that the quality of their life is based on how they attempt to cope with daily life and major life stressors…once they realize that how they cope with life is responsible for the current state of their life….once they really get this…motivation for behavioral change often follows. In the group I do, they are also taught that part of being wise (use of DBT’s Wise Mind) is not only knowing what to do (Wise Mind Game Plan), but it is about “following through with what we know to do”…because there is nothing wise about knowing what to do…and then not doing it! I believe insight and understanding is an initial part of behavioral change. I also believe that knowledge that change is possible is essential. I believe they need to really get it that other people have done it and have made it through. They have to have this knowledge…which breeds hope that the recovery process actually works…that people do recover and live satisfying and meaningful lives. I also believe personal empowerment is a key ingredient. They have to believe that they can do it…that they have the skills and understandings necessary to pull it off.

Thus, they have to understand why things are as they are..(insight and understanding), they have to recognize that change is attainable (knowledge and hope)…and they have to think they can do it (personal empowerment). Of course, they also need the knowledge, skills, and resources for getting through the tough times that are part of making and undergoing major life changes (life-enhancing coping skills, support system, hobbies and activities, busy-ness). They have to understand the concept of Distress Tolerance…that things will be hard, but they must Get Through It…that recovery is not easy…and in fact, it will be one of the hardest things they’ll ever do. They are also taught that change typically does not occur until we are sick n’ tired of being sick n’ tired…that we have to soooo hate the way things are…that we’re willing to do whatever we’ve got to do to change things…that we refuse to live like this any longer. I believe that people need to be filled with recovery attitudes…or rehab-itudes…and they need to be prepared for the fight of their life…which for many is the fight FOR a life (a decent life) and for others, it is a fight for life itself…because the severity of their consequences has escalated into things being so bad…that it comes down to “life or death”…

When the pain of living like we’re living is greater than the pain of change…that’s when most people decide to change…and the question for the rest of us is…how bad do we have to let things get before we’re willing to make changes! It’s a shame that we’re such stubborn creatures, that we have to let things get so bad…before we’re willing to make changes! If only we knew then…what we know now…how we could have spared ourselves of such long-term pain and suffering.

The Best Crash Diets are Crash n’ Burn Diets – An Excerpt from the DBT CBT Therapy Workbook

Crash n’ Burn Dieting

Why do you think a “crash diet” 1 is an Emotional Mind behavior?
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We’ve all heard of these diets and most of us have done them! We see many advertised on magazine covers, “Lose 10 pounds in 10 days with the Grapefruit Diet!” Some have strict menu plans. Many limit food choices. We may be able to eat as much as we want…but ONLY lean meat and vegetables…or boiled chicken and rice all day! Consider how limited a high protein – low carbohydrate diet is. One reason these diets fail is they don’t allow us to eat our favorite foods…and WE’RE NOT GOING TO STAY ON A DIET LIKE THAT…FOR VERY LONG!

Crash diets are driven by Emotional Mind because we’re WILLING to do something DESPERATE to lose weight QUICK. We’re IMPATIENT. We want IMMEDIATE RESULTS. We DON’T WANT TO WAIT to lose weight in a REASONABLE and HEALTHY way…even though WE KNOW it’s the only way to lose weight and keep it off! We’re being IRRATIONAL! We’ve deluded 2 ourselves! We’re believing a LIE. SOMEHOW WE BELIEVE THIS CRAZY DIET WILL WORK…that we’ll suddenly develop skills to control our eating…that we’ll give up most or all of our favorite foods…and just eat certain foods. REALLY, IF WE HAD ALL THIS WILLPOWER, why would we need a crazy diet? Why wouldn’t we just do a “normal diet” and eat like a slender person? They eat all kinds of things…just smaller portions!

Just like other Destructive Coping Behaviors, we want IMMEDIATE RELIEF…for our long-term weight problem. So, we do something desperate to lose weight FAST!

The problem with a crash diet is it’s SO UNREASONABLE and STRICT we WON’T STAY ON IT the rest of our life! When we GET OFF the diet, we return to our old eating habits. We GAIN the weight back…AND THEN SOME! That’s because we’ve been starving our body and depriving it of what it needs to function. Our brain sends out “I’M STARVING TO DEATH” signals that tell our body to PROTECT ITSELF FROM DYING. So, our metabolism 3 slows, we BURN FEWER CALORIES, and fat stores up for future famines. 4 At the same time, our BRAIN POUNDS on us to EAT MORE to replenish 5 our body. Finally, we GIVE IN TO TEMPTATION and the demands of our brain and body and we do a ROYAL PIG-OUT! Then we FEEL HORRIBLE physically and emotionally. We’re bloated, sick, disappointed, and ashamed. WE FEEL LIKE A FAILURE. Weight loss seems hopeless, so, we GIVE UP on the diet. WE GAIN ALL OUR WEIGHT BACK…AND THEN SOME!

We’re willing TO TRY to defy 6 the laws of nature to lose a ton of weight fast! A friend once said, “I’ve given up on dieting. Every time I go on a diet, I end up gaining 10 pounds!” After we starve ourselves, our brain pushes us to gain extra weight so our body is prepared for the next famine!

What kind of diet would Rational Mind suggest? ________________
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Rational Mind would encourage us to EAT THINGS WE LIKE, BUT LESS! Then our stomach will shrink and we’ll REDUCE CALORIES. We’ll get in the HABIT of eating “SKINNY PERSON PORTIONS” 7 and we’ll lose weight. Because we’re still getting our favorite foods, we’re less likely to get tired of this “eating plan!” It’ll become A WAY OF LIFE…that we can LIVE WITH for the rest of our life. We’ll STAY ON IT, LOSE WEIGHT, and KEEP IT OFF!

We’ve all heard THE BEST WAY to lose weight is to do it SLOWLY! If we’re not in a major weight gain cycle 8 and we cut our food intake by one-fourth, we may lose 2-3 pounds a month. That’s 24-36 pounds a year and 48-72 in two years! If we cut our intake in half, we may lose 4-5 pounds a month or 48-60 a year and 96-120 in two years! That’s a lot…and we can KEEP IT OFF if we KEEP IT UP! A “three-fourths” or “halves” diet will serve us MUCH BETTER over time than a “crash n’ burn” diet!

I’d rather lose 25 pounds a year by eating reasonably than gaining 10 pounds with a crash diet!

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Notes:
1. A crash diet is very strict and is designed for FAST weight loss.
2. Deluded – (duh-lew-did) – talked ourselves or others into believing something that’s not true.
3. Metabolism – (met-tab-oh-liz-em) – the process of breaking down the food we eat.
4. Famines – (fah-men’s) – times when there’s little or no food in a country or region.
5. Replenish – (ree-plin-ish) – to restore and fill back up!
6. Defy – (dee-fi) – to go against or to challenge.
7. Ever notice how skinny people eat? They eat many of the same foods as an overweight person…just smaller portions. We had a store and I’d go there after my hospital job. I was always shocked to find half a bag of chips or half a candy bar left on the desk. I could never understand why the employee didn’t eat it ALL! Obviously, their eating habits were very different from mine! They’d eat half when I’d eat two!
8. If we‘re on a major weight gain cycle, we’ll have to cut down even more to get our daily calories in the range for losing weight. These numbers are estimates based on someone who’s maintaining their weight or is only gaining a few pounds a year.

On Losing 145 Pounds and Using Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) to Regain Control Over My Over-Eating Eating Disorder!

Well, here’s another day of my recent fight to regain control of my eating and to continue to lose weight…and to prevent a full relapse into my over-eating Eating Disorder!

Felt great to weigh in at 127. One less than yesterday and a common weight for me over the past few months…and going in the right direction!

Started my day with Mindfulness of recovery being my #1 priority today. I thought about how I wanted to eat this day and I took note of what was coming at me today that could challenge my recovery. I thought about the Service Awards Celebration that would be held today at work. They’d serve cake, cookies, and other goodies. I wasn’t sure I wouldn’t eat anything there, so I was aware I needed to plan my food day to allow for that!

Started my work day by buying some time and drinking coffee first thing rather than settling into my 1-1/2 sandwiches of fat-free turkey and double fiber bread (230 cals!). Had that at about 11:30. That held me just fine until the Awards Celebration…I got a 20-year with the state of Texas award. Cool. I did good until the end when folks were chatting by the food tables…and I did it! I had a small piece of cake and would have had a chocolate chip cookie, but no chocolate cookies left of any sort and I wouldn’t waste calories on non-chocolate! Got out of there with only about 50 cals worth of cake! Oh yea! Awesome!

Well, just like I am…I get back to my work area…and there’s candy bars on the counter for sale for Relay For Life…and seeing them brings on the sweet munchies that were brought on by not getting the chocolate chip cookie! Mentioned to my friend that I had the sweet munchies now and she told me about all the treats she had stored in her desk! Oh boy! So had a Reese’s candy bar (270 cals), about a dozen M&M’s….and a good handful of cashews. Can’t imagine that to be more than about 130 calories. Delighted because 400 more calories satiated my sweet craving. Did so well that I skipped my afternoon black bean soup.

Worked late, came home at about 7 and enjoyed three yogurts (240 cals) and started on sunflower seeds. Betcha I won’t need to have the Snicker’s chocolate protein bar tonight after sweets earlier today. Really not craving anything except I’m enjoying the seeds! Think I’ll play Zuma for a while and then package up the books which have sold today. I feel so much better that my eating is better under control. Just need to continue what I’m doing and work through this “near disaster” in my recovery!

I kept track of calories all day…grand total of 1030. That’s a bit low (Rational Mind)…though I really like the number! (Emotional Mind) However, I want to re-experience peace and stability in my eating…and not the roller coaster of late. (Rational Mind) Too few calories for one to two days leads me into out-of-control eating while my body tries to replenish itself! (Rational Mind) I’m just not in the mood for more diet drama. Had my fill of that! (Rational Mind) May snack on something to bring it closer to about 1250 (Wise Mind)…but I really like the 1030 number! (Emotional Mind)

Oh boy, hubby just got home bearing Walmart grocery bags…and I get to put them up! My recovery supportive husband brought home three bags of chips…one of which I happen to really like…but, also a bag of apples. So, I was mindful of my recovery and my recovery goals and realized that if I cracked the bag of chips it would be 200 calories in seconds flat! (Rational Mind) Made a decision to put them up and out of my sight. (Wise Mind) Then, I found the bag of apples…ahhhhhh…had two. So, total calories now about 1160…and now he’s grilling hamburgers outside. Hopefully, I’ll just tear one in half and have that! (Wise Mind) That puts me right at that 1250 number! Boy, sure I love the food he cooks out there on the propane grill. Oh…man!

Willfulness and Willingness…Fighting for Recovery…From My Overeating Disorder!

“You get skinnier every time I see you.” That’s what my friend said to me today…and I thought, “Fat chance of that!”

Weighed this morning – 128. Not horrible, better than 129 the other day…but lots worse than my monthly average the last few months (125 range) with lows at 122-123.

Getting dressed, I put on my size 10’s…my larger pants since I’m not in the 125 range. Oh my God, they were tight. I am not doing tight first thing in the morning, else by mid-afternoon seams will be a-bursting! Went up a half size bigger…ahhhhhh…and to think I was going to put those in storage just in case I started to get fat again. I shouldn’t need to wear those. I wore those at 135. But…if the pants fit, wear them!

I was feeling despondent, helpless, out-of-control…desperate…hopeless. Then, anxiety hit. I realized this could easily be a relapse point. Eating out-of-control…felt discouraged…was bloated…and having to wear “fat pants”…everything was just right for an Emotional Mind recovery sabotage.

My first panic thought was to strictly reduce my calories to 1100…to punish myself. (Emotional Mind thinking).

Rational Mind said, “That’s too low…and punishing yourself will backfire..it’s not a good thing for you.”

Wise Mind said, “Chill out Mel…work to maintain calories in the 1200 range…that’s very do-able for you…you can tighten up a bit.”

Thank God I’m into this DBT-CBT thing…and I live, eat, and breathe it. And thank God I caught myself in the middle of this serious Emotional Mind game. I thought, “You know, I’m not going there.” Then I thought, “I think I’ve just entered a fight for my recovery. It’s at that point now.”

I then recognized I felt a bit angry about this eating thing…frustrated, just tired of it. Then another thought flew through my mind, “I don’t get mad, I get even.” This is usually a negative, revenge type of Emotion-Driven thought, a self-destructive thought. However, for me…today…it was more like, “It’s time to kick this in the ass…I’m tired of it.” “It” being…”I’m tired of my crap”…it’s like “Shit or get off the pot”…or…”If you’re serious about this diet thing, then make it happen already…Get control or lose control. Game’s over. It’s time to get serious.”

I thought about DBT and “Willfulness vs. Willingness.” Well, one is usually bad – the stubborn, willfulness one…and willingness is usually good – the “I’ll do whatever I need to do to be okay”…it’s the “I surrender,” “I accept,”…the, ”I’m ready and willing” one.

Well, for me today, Willfulness was a positive thing. It was the stubborn and determined part of me…that fight from deep inside…being willful in a survivalist type of way…the, “I’ll be damned if this kicks my ass” type of fire from within!

Willingness was there, too. They stood side by side. I was willing to do what I needed to do to get this eating thing going on. I surrender my will to eat whatever I want to eat. I surrender to setting limits for my eating.

Well, I’ve done very well today with just a minimum of distress. Ended the food day at 6:30pm with 1185 cals. For breakfast I had 1-1/2 fat free turkey sandwiches (double fiber whole wheat bread) and drank coffee with about 25 calories of flavored coffee creamer. I had a can of green beans for lunch. That held me over until my mid-afternoon can of black bean soup which kept me from leaving work starving to death and ready to eat everything in sight when I got home from work. Upon arriving home, I had 3 black cherry yogurts (80 cals each and quite a treat) and a Snickers 290 calorie chocolate protein bar (quite a treat…like a candy bar!) I picked at leftovers and had a couple bites of chicken with green peppers. SUCCESS. Had to forego fruit and sunflower seeds today, but I’m fine. Started the sunflower seeds in the evening when I quit cigarettes a few months ago…and also added a lot of fruit then to deal with the nicotine withdrawal CONSTIPATION! Did just fine though without them tonight.

Now…today I went back to some of the dieting basics like I resolved to do a few days ago…yesterday…whenever it was. I kept a running tally of my calories through the day…and emailed them to my home! I was mindful of what I would eat (for the most part), planned my food day (for the most part) and I did the “think through before you do” thing. Now, tomorrow is a new day and I sure hope I experience that fire from within…and fight for my recovery all over again! I hope my battles help you in your fight.

DBT – CBT and dieting: Counting Calories…and They’re Adding Up!

I did good with my eating ALL day…until the bowl of Stouffer’s lasagna just a little while ago. Boy, it sure was good! Enjoyed every cheesy bite! Didn’t need it, just chose to have it. Put me about 200 calories higher than desirable for the day…makes for a “bad” day. Total calories today – 1465. Month average is now 1265 which is perfect for me…just where I want to be. Allows me to lose about a pound or two a month.

I’m bothered by eating more than desirable today. Did well with mindful eating ALL day…until the lasagna! However, I haven’t given up on me…yet. I’m determined to figure this out. A part of me says, “Maybe your body is just ready for maintenance eating” rather than losing weight. That’s probably Rational Mind! Emotional Mind says, “Well, I’m not ready for that. I still want to lose about 10-15 pounds” (Yes, I’ll still be within ideal body weight and more where I was most of my life before I got heavy in my late 20’s.)

The Wise Mind thought crossed my mind, “Just exercise some each day, that’ll take care of those extra calories.” My stubborn, Emotional Mind responded, “Nah, I’d just rather try to eat less.” In other words, I’m too lazy to exercise…I have other interests and things to do…I want to do the diet my way…not the way I know is best. So, I’ll persist in my stubborn ways and see how it goes.

Rational Mind says, “You can continue to try it your way, but if it isn’t working, you’ll have to try something else.” And, Wise Mind says…”See that bowflex and stepping machine behind you…” I think I’d rather give up that chocolate Snickers protein bar (290 cals) rather than exercise an hour! I’d much rather do that!

Touchdown Minnesota…Can’t help to favor Favre!

Tomorrow I’ll eat like I did today, but not allow myself to have the Snicker’s protein bar.

My God, what an awesome play by Green Bay…major pass from Rodgers…touchdown Green Bay. Score is tied. Exciting game!

Using DBT and CBT to lose weight

I’ve lost 145 pounds and now I have to go on a diet! That’s where I’m at right now. I have steadily lost a ton of weight in 4 years and I find myself in need of going on a diet! September was a VERY bad month for me. I had many more bad days with very high calories than usual (in the 1800-2100 range with one day even higher!) Such high calorie days typically happen just a couple times a month…not many times! Last month (September), I ended up with almost 200 more calories per day than typical. May sound like nothing…but, that adds about 1-1/2 pounds to me over the month…and it kept me from losing any weight.

That may not sound bad…but, the problem is…I really struggled this past month. I was “out-of-control” with eating. I’d pig out some days…and then work hard other days to get my overall monthly calorie count lower…only to have more pig-out days…followed by major attempts to control my eating…which still very often resulted in more calories for me than usual. Overall, I did not have a natural eating pattern this month…it was a time of out-of-control eating.

I recognized that I was in a period of early relapse with my eating disorder (over-eating)…and that if I didn’t gain control, I would lose control, and end up “out-of-control” and back in a cycle of weight gain. I was mindful that I could end up gaining a bunch of weight and perhaps end up fatter than when I started. Scary. Don’t want to go there on purpose.

Because I live, eat, and breathe the teachings of the DBT-CBT “Out-of-Control” Therapy Workbook, I began dealing with this early relapse and my neurotic self. Towards the end of the month when I thought,

“Oh my God, I’m going to gain all my weight back”

and various other statements of an Emotional Mind panic, Rational Mind came to my rescue.

“If I don’t gain control, I will lose control, and gaining weight is certainly likely. I’ve done well with this diet thing for 4 years. I’ve been within ideal body weight for a year now. I’ve been losing weight up until this month. I’ve got the skills, willpower, and know-how to get control of myself. I’ve just gotta tighten up and get a Game Plan for getting through this.”

Wise Mind clicked on and I thought, “I’ll just go back to the early days of my diet and start over. I’ll do things like I did back then. I’ll just start from scratch.”

Emotional Mind clicked on, “I can just not eat much tomorrow and the next day, that’ll cut my calories down a lot for the month…and more in line with a normal month.”

Rational Mind and Wise Mind jumped me, “That’s a bad idea. You know better. You’ll just end up pigging out again. You can’t do that. It’s certainly tempting, but not the way to go. I just need to tighten up and do things like I did in the early days of my dieting.”

Emotional Mind reared up again, “Well, I can just starve myself tomorrow and the next day so my calories won’t be bad for the month and THEN I can start over. I don’t want to have such a bad month…and show a 4-pound weight gain this month. That’s awful”

Rational Mind said, “What’s done is done. It’s just numbers. You’ll show a gain this month, and then next month, you’ll go down again. It’s not real weight, well, just a pound or so. You don’t gain 4 pounds eating an extra 5000 calories a month, that’s just a pound and a half or so…and really instead of losing a pound n’ a half this month, you’re just breaking even. You’re on your period so the extra weight is probably just water.”
Wise Mind said, “Chill, you’ll be okay. This is just temporary. Let’s just get a plan.”

So, I began thinking of how I used to do things. It’s been a long time since I’ve had to be on a diet! I had developed such good eating habits that it became a natural part of living, more a lifestyle than a diet! I actually eat a very healthy diet…I’m just eating more…more yogurt, more fruit, more chocolate protein bars!

Part of my diet basics is to let the people I’m around know about my struggles and to solicit their help. So, I told the family I had a very bad September, that I need to tighten up…and that I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle. I asked them not to offer me food and to put their food up when they’re done. Of course, they’re not perfect in my recovery, so when I notice they’ve left something out that could be tempting to me, I put it up!

I’m also walking past temptation telling myself, “I can’t just eat that, I’m on a diet” instead of having a couple bites, a bowl, or a handful. I’m setting limits because my wants now are much greater than they’ve been for a long time…and I guess I’ve slacked off too much. I find myself eating because I feel like it, rather than eating when I’m hungry.

I’m also setting limits and making choices about when I’m going to eat…not just allowing myself to graze.
I also decided that I would count calories through the day instead of just doing it at night. This will increase my mindfulness of calorie intake throughout the day.

This morning as I was waking up and thinking about my day, I decided what I would eat. Since I slept late, I’d eat two meals and an evening snack.

I’ve also thought about the work week because my calories are higher during the week than on the weekends. I will bring a limited amount of food to work. For instance, instead of a huge bag of grapes that should last a few days, I’ll bring about 100 calories worth. I’m in the process of figuring out what my food day will be like at work and what I’ll have at home in the evening.

So, I’ve gone back to some of the basics, but, I’m not perfect in recovery. I’ve had one “bad day” this first four days of October, but three very good days. My overall calorie count is lower than desirable, but I have faith in myself, I’ll be able to get it up without any problem!

FYI: DBT-CBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy)

Why Do Borderlines Do Such Crazy Things?

This question was asked…and I couldn’t help to respond. One person responded to the question with an excellent description of the pain and trauma a borderline has experienced…a “well if you went through this…you’d be that way, too” type of response. It helps to make the non-understandable…understandable. It certainly helped to get a sense of the pain someone with bpd goes through…and has gone through.

To his response, I added the following information.

The term borderline originated because in the days of old, folks considered this to be borderline psychosis…because of the seemingly insane, crazy type of behavior…the OUT-OF-CONTROL behavior…behavior that oftentimes makes little sense to the observers and the targets of the behavior. Many times, borderline people don’t understand themselves because of their out-of-control emotions and behavior…imagine how hard it is for someone else to understand their behavior…especially someone who has little or no experience with this kind of stuff. At least the individual asking the question is asking…in a quest to understand the seemingly un-understandable!

From a DBT-CBT perspective, when we’re “Big Time in Emotional Mind,” we have little to no Rational Mind going on…we’re like 95% Emotional Mind and 5% Rational Mind. We’re not thinking straight…we’re not rational…we’re just BIG TIME IN EMOTIONAL MIND. Our emotions are intense…they are driving our perceptions…they are driving our behavior…they are driving our thoughts…we’re not dealing with reality or the way things really are…we are reacting to things based on our emotions, our fears and traumatic experiences, and our emotion-driven beliefs. Our emotions have “done gone crazy”…and we say and do irrational things in such an intense emotional state. But the truth, it’s not about being crazy…or stupid…or anything like that…it’s about being overwhelmed with emotions, memories, fears, trauma…it’s about being desperate…desperate for relief, desperate for comfort, desperate for a continuing relationship, desperate for assurance of safety…and it’s about desperately seeking to reduce our emotional intensity to a level that is more tolerable.

Everyone gets “Big Time in Emotional Mind” now and then…and when we are…we all do crazy, irrational things…we all lose control now and then…and we say and do all kinds of things…that afterwards we say, “What was I thinking?” Well, we weren’t thinking…rationally. We were just reacting emotionally. Emotional Mind was controlling our thoughts and our behavior…and we did some really desperate things to meet our perceived needs in the heat-of-the-moment.

With borderlines (and like the rest of us now and then), the past slams into the present…and it’s really hard to deal with the here-and-now as it is in the here-and-now. They react to today’s situations with the anxiety, intensity, fears, unmet needs, rage, and the memories of all the pain and trauma from the past. I’d venture to say that all borderlines have full-blown PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)…or many features thereof…and they react to the present…and live the present as if it was the past. It’s like they expect the present situations to be a repetition of the past…because the past repeated itself so many times before.

How do I recover from Borderline Personality Disorder: A DBT-CBT perspective

Recovery from Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever do. It will require a lot of perseverance and focus…and Mindfulness every waking hour. It will require great effort to gain control of out-of-control emotions, behaviors, and thought processes. Then it will require great control to MAINTAIN control over time. You’ll have to want recovery more than anything else in life. Just like the alcoholic…to recover they have to want recovery more than anything else in life. You’re attitude will have to be “Recovery is my #1 priority” and then you’ll have to act in ways to make it so.

The question of how to recover from BPD was posed to me and I wrote a couple paragraphs to give the person an idea of what it would involve. I did not spell out a comprehensive treatment program, just an overview of some things it would involve. BPD is a severe personality disorder that requires a comprehensive treatment plan and years of therapy…and years of practicing new behaviors and skills to undo and change years of dysfunctional responses. So consider the following information to be an overview of the process and know there’s more to it!

Some aspects of recovery include:

    Therapy
    A support system
    Mindfulness
    Practicing life-enhancing coping skills to replace self-destructive ones…and using these in the heat-of-the-moment…and on a day-to-day basis to keep negative emotional levels as low as possible.
    Challenging self-destructive Emotion-Driven Thoughts with Rational Mind thoughts. Rational Mind thoughts relate to the unchanging TRUTH and facts about a situation, our life, other people, etc. Our Emotional Mind thoughts are based on our “in-the-moment perceptions”…or the way we think about things when we’re in an emotional state. For instance, when we’re upset, we may think and say, “Nobody cares about me.” This will be a habit…so we’ll have to catch ourselves (Mindfulness) and turn on Rational Mind and say, “Many people love me and care about me. I’m just thinking that because I’m upset right now. That’s just stinkin’ thinkin’” If we think, “Cutting would help me to feel better.”…we must catch ourselves and say, “Cutting helps in-the-moment, but it ends up causing me more pain and problems. Calling a support person and working through the moment will help me NOW and in the future. Cutting is relapse for me and will only bring me down and land me back into the Cycle of Suffering. I want recovery and I’ve got to use life-enhancing coping skills.” Wise Mind is already kicking in and will be offering some suggestions for getting through the moment.

Borderline Personality Disorder also involves dysfunctional relationship dynamics and patterns. Part of the recovery process is awareness of our sensitivities and our typical responses in relationships. Mindfulness is essential here. When we catch ourselves responding in old dysfunctional ways, we’ll have to use Rational Mind and Wise Mind to alter our responses. Like when someone hurts our feelings, we might think, “She is such a b—-. She was never my friend. I’m never going to talk to her again. I don’t get mad, I get even.” That’s Emotional Mind thinking…it’s Emotion-Driven Thinking…thoughts that are driven by or are caused by whatever emotions we are experiencing. We’re thinking that way just because we’re Big-Time in Emotional Mind. So, we’ll have to catch ourselves and challenge that thought with Rational Mind. For instance, we might remind ourselves of the truth about her and other people, like “She’s usually nice to me. Maybe something’s going on with her and she’s not in such a nice mood right now. She’s been friendly and she’s been my friend. Everyone has their moods…and I guess she’s in one right now.” Wise Mind would kick on and make some problem-solving suggestions, such as, “I’ll pull myself together and go on with my day and TRY not to worry about this. I’ll check back in with her later and see if she’s okay. If something is troubling her, I’ll offer to talk with her about it. If it seems like she’s upset with me, I’ll let her know I appreciate her friendship and I’m sorry if I did something to upset her…and I’ll encourage her to talk with me about it…and I’ll work real hard not to be defensive! I’ll try to smooth things over with her so I can maintain this relationship.”

There’s a lot to working through and changing a lifetime of experiences, habits, thought processes, reactions, etc. Therapy, support groups, a support system, mindfulness, following through with life-enhancing coping behaviors and problem-solving, and an attitude of “Recovery is my #1 priority” are some key elements to recovery. READ self-help books too…and learn as much as you can about recovery. Know that it took a lifetime to get us to this place and time…and it will take a while to recover. It’s step by step, minute-by-minute, hour-by-hour, day-by-day…month after month..and year after year. I think it is reasonable to expect that even though we get to a point of being “pretty well recovered” things will still come up…things that will bring up old feelings, insecurities, and issues…that we’ll have to deal with. But, by then, we’ll be real practiced at it and it won’t take long to set ourselves straight. Honestly, I am “pretty well recovered” but I still have to deal with myself on a daily basis. I consider myself to be “a work in progress.”

Another thing to think about is that it is normal to be “abnormal.” Most people have issues and concerns that bother them. Some struggle to get better n’ better…and others remain in denial and blame others, avoid their issues…and remain in a Cycle of Suffering.

Trying to DBT-CBT My Way Through Quitting Smoking – The Battle Between Emotional Mind and Rational Mind

This is my 5th or 6th time to quit smoking this year. This is something I’ve always been really good at. I’ve successfully quit smoking over a dozen times in my life. No joke…I really mean it! I’ve quit for long periods of time, like years at a time…and then, I pick up a cigarette…and here I go again!

I have most often quit when I’ve gotten sick. It was always a “planned quit”…”I’ll quit next time I get sick and cigarettes taste horrible.” That was a very effective plan. The problem this time…is that I haven’t gotten sick enough to quit and I’ve had to find other reasons to quit. No, please don’t pray for me to get so sick that I quit! Don’t want to go there on purpose…especially in this age of swine flu!

I’ve also quit several times due to pregnancy. I’ve also quit before when I dated someone who didn’t smoke…I knew what it was like for a non-smoker to kiss a smoker…been on the receiving end of such a kiss…and it’s plumb nasty! All in all, I’ve smoked and have quit many times over my 40 year smoking career.

Because I didn’t get sick over the last 18 months…well, not sick enough to quit smoking…I’ve been smoking for 18 months now…with the exception of some short periods of not smoking over the last 4-1/2 months. I did a planned quit on Jan. 5th – the day I went back to work after the holidays. I did fine for about 5 days…my weight had been going crazy and I gained about 13 pounds REAL FAST…like over a two-week period when I was eating 1200-1300 calories a day. Being a professional dieter (like I am a professional smoking quitter!)…My Rational Mind knew that weight wasn’t REAL weight…that it was water, poop, whatever…but, it wasn’t FAT. However, given I’ve lost a ton of weight over the last several years and the last thing I want to do is to gain all my weight back…my Emotional Mind was going crazy…and I was freakin’ out…

I was telling a friend about the weight gain…the bloating…and all the concomitant gas. I told her I shouldn’t be gaining weight because I wasn’t eating that much. She asked what I was eating…and I bragged on eating a very healthy diet of nuts. Well, thank goodness she knew a little something about nuts. She told me that nuts cause bloating…and can cause all that extra gas! I told her I sure wanted to get rid of all the bloating but I was rather enjoying having the ammunition to get even with my gassy family. Well, I did a bunch of googling and found out she was right! So, I got off the nuts and took up smoking AGAIN. My weight dropped as quickly as it came on…and I was RELIEVED!

My Dad was hospitalized for a stroke on Feb 1st…about 3 weeks into my most recent smoking indulgence period. Baylor Heart Hospital in Dallas is NO SMOKING all over the campus…there are NO smoking places…inside or out…imagine that…a heart hospital that does not support smoking. So, given we were living at the hospital for a week, and given my father was a long time smoker and obviously just had to quit cold turkey, I had to give up smoking AGAIN.

That went just fine for a few weeks…and since I wasn’t smoking, I figured it was a good time to start the birth control pills my doctor has prescribed for pre-menopausal hormone replacement. I tried them about two years ago…but my weight went crazy and I quit. Well, this time wasn’t any different…my weight went crazy again. I was gaining 1-2 pounds a day…and about 8 days, 12 pounds, and two sizes later, I quit the pills three days early and started smoking AGAIN!

As expected, my weight went right back down…and I lost a few more pounds. YEA! Well, after about two weeks of enjoying this most recent smoking binge, I set a date to quit smoking AGAIN…on my next “return to work” day. I did just fine for about five days. I quit at the wrong time of the month…the part of the month for me that my weight goes up about 5 pounds…regardless of caloric intake. My Rational Mind knows it’s just water…maybe some extra poop…but, I’m bloated and I have to wear a larger size…and that’s NOT okay. It was also Easter time and my child brought a large bag of some VERY FRESH chocolate covered raisins home and of course, she had to show me what she had. Okay, those were consumed the first night, but I skipped dinner to offset the increased calories. The next day, my friend visits and brings over Easter candy that she found on sale…of course, it’s chocolate stuff…and of course, I consume that…however, because I missed nutrition the night before, I ate real food, too.

Okay, we’re doing “the weight done gone crazy” thing again. My Emotional Mind was freakin’ out…so I asked my husband to bring me some smokes on his way home. I told my family and my friend that I would quit smoking AGAIN once my weight was under control and to NOT BRING SWEETS INTO THE HOUSE if they wanted me to stay off smoking. Our recovery has to be a family affair…our support people need to support us and to help keep our environment as temptation free as possible. Very few people will recover if they live in an environment filled with temptation. That’s why we’re told that we have to change people, places, and things.

Okay…a few weeks went by and I quit again. I quit for five days and I started smoking again because I was stressed out at work…and just because I wanted to. It wasn’t about weight…it was about MY WANTS. I WANTED to smoke.

So, now here we are at Saturday, May 23rd, 2009. I’ve quit AGAIN. I’ve been off cigarettes since Tuesday, May 19th when I went back to work after a long weekend. The week went well, though Tuesday at 4pm when it was getting close to quitting time (at work), I was thinking about the 23 minute drive home and how I could stop off and pick up some smokes…and how nice that would be. I thought about how much I REALLY WANTED a cigarette…and how I was really “Jones-ing” to smoke.

As I sat on the pot at work…my Emotional Mind and Rational Mind was battling it out. My Emotional Mind desire was to smoke. My Rational Mind was fighting hard to talk me out of it and my Wise Mind was telling me to GET THROUGH THE MOMENT…go straight home…you’ll be alright…you’ve done great all day. My Emotional Mind was coming up with all these schemes to smoke, like “I could just smoke at night…and not smoke during the day.” and, “Remember, I don’t want to live ‘til I’m 90 and have to live in a nursing home…if I smoke, I’ll die in my 70’s and not have to deal with that misery…and it’ll be better for my family that way.”

Well, Rational Mind fought back and told me, “It’s an Emotion-Driven Lie to think that you’ll just smoke in the evenings…that may work one day and then you’ll be back to smoking full-time AGAIN…that’s bull Sheets.” Finally, after conducting this fierce battle over the porcelain pot, my Rational Mind spoke again in my sister’s tone of voice…and said, “Think about what you’re doing to your lungs.” – oh thanks a lot for that Rational Mind…spoil my fun. Then, my own voice kicked in with Rational Mind and asked, “What do you desire more…to be a smoker…or a non-smoker?”

Well, that was a defining moment for me…and I said in a strong voice (inside my head)…”I most desire to be a non-smoker.” and…that was it…I sighed deeply, flushed, and went on with my evening. I drove right home and it was wild…while I waited at the Walmart light, it occurred to me that I hadn’t thought about cigarettes until just that moment when I thought about not thinking about cigarettes. That was pretty cool!

I’ve done great until today, Saturday…the 23rd as referenced above. I’ve gained three pounds because it’s that time of the month. At the beginning of this most recent non-smoking attempt, Wise Mind suggested that I wouldn’t start freakin’ out until I gained 8 pounds…to give myself a larger window before taking action! I weighed one more pound on Wedn morning, one more on Thurs…and one more on Friday. I was the same weight this morning.

That should be exciting because maybe the monthly weight gain is slowing down…and the eating an extra 100-200 calories a day not smoking isn’t adding up too fast. My Emotional Mind was a bit disappointed…because if I would have gained another pound or two, I could have smoked again. I was actually disappointed. I even weighed a second time just to be sure. Aren’t we sick?! I say “we”…because we folks who struggle with recovery do all sorts of things to sabotage ourselves…so we can return to our habits and addictions.

Of course, I was Mindful of my mind games and reminded myself that I want MORE to be a non-smoker, save the money, breathe better, it’s more professional, I don’t want to be burdened with the habit and the NEED to smoke when it’s inconvenient and I’m going to be late for a meeting, I’m smoking up my book profits, God’s been good to me and look how I’m taking care of his blessing….etc. I also reminded myself that I told my Group on Wednesday about what helped me to win the relapse battle on Tuesday (what do I desire more)…and how awful it would be…to have to let my Group down by telling them that I’m smoking again. What a horrible example that is. What a hypocrite I would be. I’m encouraging them to change everything in their lives as they try to quit life-encompassing habits like drugs and alcohol…and I can’t overcome smoking. All these Rational Mind thoughts attacked that sick Emotional Mind Game…but, I did think that I could just not smoke in the mornings…that I wouldn’t smell like smoke during Group…and if they asked, I could lie. The faces, the stories, and the hearts of some of my Group Members flashed through my mind…and the guilt trumped my desire to smoke.

Today is Saturday and it’s a time when I spend long hours on the computer. It’s a time when I really enjoy smoking…one cigarette after another. It’s a very convenient and relaxing time to smoke. So, today has been tough. I’m glad I have no smokes at home, I’m glad the store is about 10 minutes and a major hassle away…and that I hate leaving my home on my day off…and my husband hasn’t said, “I’m going to the store, want anything?” I did hear my boy ask his Dad if he was going to “Buffalo Fina” after he drove to a friend’s home to feed their horses. Thank goodness, my husband said, “No, I haven’t thought about it.” Thank goodness I didn’t say, “Hey, could you pick me up a pack of smokes.” I’ve had to remind myself so many times today what it is that I really want…and it’s to be a non-smoker.

I ate fine today…but a part of me wishes I will have gained an extra pound in the morning. I did pray this time around for God to help me through this. I told him that unlike in the past, I may not be able to do this on my own this time…that it was getting harder. I’m off work tomorrow and Monday…Memorial Day weekend. Lord, keep me focused…keep me Mindful of what my goals are…help me through the rough moments…and help me to be bursting with pride and excitement on Tuesday when my Group asks, “Did ya’ smoke?”…and I can say “Came close…came real close, but worked through the moment…for hours and hours over that long weekend!” See me through this Lord, Amen. This makes me smile and gives me hope that I’ll make it through. I don’t want to be a disappointment to others…I want to be an inspiration.

UPDATE: 5-26-09 (Tuesday)
I think I made it through! Got through the long weekend WITHOUT smoking. Had several tough moments each day…really desired to smoke…but used all my Rational Mind – Wise Mind – Talking Myself Through the Moments skills to make it through. Been off cigarettes 8 days now…guess I saved about $40. Almost enough to purchase another pair of boots off Ebay! I’ve probably made it through the toughest point…the long weekend. I bet I can be done with cigarettes…if I choose to be.

Something my patients taught me is that we don’t just relapse when bad things happen…we also relapse when positive things happen…that fun, excitement, good news, and similar positive experiences are also a relapse trigger. I’ve twice experienced this during my 5-6 attempts at not smoking this year. About 2 weeks ago, I relapsed into smoking following an exciting event (good news) and great news this weekend just about sent me to the store to buy some smokes. Celebrating, partying, drinking….and smoking all go together. Add to that the memories of the best times as a kid…often involved smoking, too…and drinking…and partying! It’s just Emotional Mind experience that we have to talk ourselves through. Some Rational Mind statements for me include…”That was then, this is now…those WERE some fun, carefree times. Life is different now. Smoking is a bad thing for me now.” “I MOST DESIRE not to smoke. I want to be a non-smoker more than I want to smoke.” “This moment will pass…I’ll get my mind involved in my work in a few minutes…and I’ll be okay for awhile.” “I want to be an inspiration to people, not a disappointment.”

By the way, my weight is good…have only gained 1 pound during “this time of the month.” I worked harder on my eating this weekend so I wouldn’t have an excuse to start smoking! I was very Mindful of my Mind Games! I made a point of putting up food my family left on the counter so I wouldn’t snack on it all day! I also ate a bunch of sunflower seeds. Sunflower seeds SEEM to reduce my appetite. They’re also good cuz they give my mouth and hands something to do…a fine replacement for cigarettes. You know what else I might try…pomegranate seeds. They make for quite a bit of hand and mouth work!!! I haven’t eaten those since I was a kid! Oh Lord, I cannot cycle back to fond memories as a kid and smoking! Man, our Emotional Mind is relentless!

Copyright Statement: Material contained within this blog is copyrighted protected with all rights reserved © Melanie Gordon Sheets commencing in 2009 and extending through the present age. Please request permission to quote or otherwise use material obtained from this blog by emailing: service@dbt-cbt-workbook.com

Please visit the website www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com for more information about the DBT-CBT Workbook. The full title is “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior” – Recovery Works Publications, 2009.