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!
I am spending my day working on a DBT manual for adolescents and aaccidently landed on your website as I was surfing the net. Besides DBT/CBT we have one other thing in common…I, too, work at a state hospital (here in New York) and was inspired to do my manual as a result of the skills groups I run at this hospital. From what I saw so far you have a great writing style that seems to simplify the basic concepts that so often challenge our teaching skills! Continued success with your patients.
Thank you for the comment. Most of the adult patients really appreciate this workbook and the DBT-CBT Group. The material hits home for them. Like you say, I think the language and the examples used makes the concepts easier to understand and easier to apply to their lives. The “down-to-earth” language is a benefit for the end users (the ones working the program) but a liability for me since it’s not the scholarly type of text expected from a Ph.D.!!! Some of my more academically inclined colleagues are taken aback by the casual language…however, those who work with a general recovery population really appreciate it! One of my “pet peeves” in life is people who speak to a group (or person) without “knowing the group” and use language and jargon that’s WAY over their heads. It’s Greek to the listener and a waste of time for all involved…and it reflects a “disconnect”!
Are you on LinkedIn? If so, look me up. My name is much less common than yours! I would enjoy connecting with you to discuss your program and patient population. Thanks again.