Category Archives: Normal People

What Frees You To Be Yourself…And To Achieve To Your Potential: Acceptance Of Self And Others From A DBT-CBT Perspective

I came across a discussion item on LinkedIn a little while ago about “What frees you to achieve to your potential.”  The individual posting the question focused on “self-discipline”…well, that was not what I had in mind when I read the discussion headline in my email.  Here’s my response!

“I believe self-discipline is a must, but that hasn’t set me free…it burdens me because I am overly-driven. I believe that my tenacity, perseverance, and ability to stay at a task long after others would have left it is a God-given gift…yet sometimes, I think it is also a curse! I guess I haven’t incorporated the “balance” component yet!However, I also believe that I am able to step out of my comfort zone, put myself “out there” or extend myself, try things…and achieve some pretty awesome things now and then because I do not expect that I will be perfect and I recognize that foibles, errors, and imperfections are very human. I realize that not everyone will like me or my style…and that’s okay…because not everyone will! No matter how great someone is…there’s always critics in every corner!I believe acceptance of my humanity and acceptance of the varied temperments of others helps to free me to be myself…extend myself…and be who I was designed to be…and do what I was designed to do. That sure helps me to work through the neurotic self-doubt and shame that has haunted me over the years.”

As I considered that response, it reminded me of a section in the introduction of the DBT-CBT Workbook I wrote last year.   This section is entitled, “Saving Face: DBT-CBT in Action” and the text from this section is below.

You’ve heard the saying about “stepping in it.”  Well, I sometimes “step in it”…and the work of this book is no exception!  I spoke to a professor at Texas A&M, Dr. Brian Stagner, about reviewing this workbook.  He was my mentor during graduate school and he graciously agreed.  Although I’m proud of this work, at the same time, I’m a little embarrassed by it!  That’s a dialectical problem by the way!  I figured he’d be impressed by the content, but stunned by the language and grammar…so, I never sent it to him!

Part of DBT-CBT is Choosing Our Battles and Taking a Stand and Fighting for what’s MOST IMPORTANT to us…NOT EVERYTHING in life.  It’s also about being prepared for and accepting the consequences of our behavior and choices.  It’s also about being wise…and we’ll see if I made a wise choice!  I expect to take some hits on grammar, like dangling participles, commas instead of semicolons, overuse of contractions, pronoun and antecedent disagreement, Texas slang, and other informal language and grammar.  The truth, I wrote this for the average person and in a language many people speak…except for some southern slang!  It wasn’t written for a professional audience, though I hope many in that audience will read it.  I’m an informal, “down-home girl” and I wrote this for “down-home people.”  I CAN BE formal if I have to be, but I certainly PREFER NOT!

Another criticism I expect is repetition in the workbook.  I tried to write this as I would speak it and teach it in Group.  When I teach important principles and concepts, I often repeat myself by explaining the same thing in different words…one sentence right after another.  Sometimes, hearing something said in different ways helps us to understand and remember it better…and if our minds have wandered, maybe we’ll get it the second or third time around!  I’m very invested in the people I work with…and I’m passionate about doing my part to change lives.  I drill home some points because this is intended to be a learning AND recovery experience.  It’s NOT designed for casual reading or entertainment purposes!

You’ll notice some repetition across chapters. My belief, most people don’t have audiographic memories…like they hear something once and remember it. My goal is for people to understand and remember these life-changing principles, concepts, and skills…so they’ll be equipped to apply them in Real Life. Many of us are hard-headed and need this information drilled into our minds. We may not WANT to hear some things and we may not be ready to look at or process some things. We usually have to be emotionally MOVED before we DECIDE to make difficult life changes. Being MOVED often involves looking at the Big Picture of Reality until our eyes are opened and the truth sinks in. Further, to learn how to carry out these skills and to live these concepts…we need to live, eat, and breathe this information until we know it so well we can repeat it back to ourselves. We LEARN by repetition.

Also, everyone doesn’t read a book cover to cover in a few days.  When time goes by, a review of important principles and concepts helps us to get the most out of what we’re reading.  Further, when we’re stressed out by life, our brain is working full capacity to survive and meet here-and-now demands…and it isn’t always so able to fully process and learn new information.  On top of all this, some of us have used a lot of drugs and alcohol, are aging, on medications, or have had head injuries…and our attention, concentration, and memories aren’t like they used to be!  Also, some folks have had learning problems all their lives.  Others may have symptoms of mental illness which affect their ability to concentrate.  In my mind…REPETITION IS GOOD!

The last point of embarrassment is…there WILL BE errors and typos…and Lord, I hope not…lost lines…where they disappear when the document is printed.  I know I’m obsessive-compulsive…a perfectionist in many ways.  I could review this book for ANOTHER year…and continue to make changes.  However, if I don’t GET ‘ER DONE…it’ll be half of forever before it’s in print and can be helpful to people who are HURTING and SUFFERING.  Getting this in print is much more important than perfection and my ego.

Some folks don’t like how I’ve used CAPITAL LETTERS.  I took some out, but left many.  Again, I’m trying to drill home points.  The capital letters are intended to draw attention to important principles and concepts…things I really want folks TO GET and be aware of!  Sometimes, they’re for emphasis (like to say louder when we’re reading), but most often they’re there to highlight a point.  The capital letters may make reading a little difficult until you get used to the writing style.

So, I resolve my dialectical problem of being both proud of this work and embarrassed by it.  I realize I want to print the PERFECT book to please a professional audience…however, I also recognize this book is for the average person who desperately seeks recovery.  THAT IS its value and purpose.  I ACCEPT that no matter how obsessive-compulsive and perfectionistic I am, I’m not perfect and I’ll make errors despite my best efforts to avoid them.  I also understand that although I’m a highly educated professional, it’s not my spirit to interact with the world in a formal manner.  I’m different, I’m down-to-earth, I am ME…and I’m okay.  Some people will accept and embrace this work…others will criticize it.  I understand some people will find fault no matter what…but, I’ve “stepped in it” and have set myself up for criticism because I haven’t used proper grammar or writing rules.

I’ll take my hits, do Damage Control, fix things as I see appropriate, and I’ll move on down the Recovery Path…and on with life!  Perhaps our paths will cross as we journey through the Pathways of Recovery.  Hope to see you there.

And to that, I say, “AMEN!”

So, what frees you to be yourself…and to be who you were designed to be…and to do what you were designed to do?

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

Advertisements

Using DBT CBT Workbook Recovery Skills To Get Control Of My Out-Of-Control Eating! Losing Weight Again!

I made it through the diet crisis. What a horrible time that was…to feel so out-of-control of my eating and knowing I was very close to relapse back into an EATING DISORDER! It’s kind of sad to think back to that…I was so desperate and struggling. Writing one of the blogs in that period, it occurred to me how much drama and chaos I was experiencing and allowing myself to go through. Because the theme of my life is “Peace and Stability,” I became sick n’ tired of the chaos and drama…and I took control of my out-of-control self! It was like “Ah, hell no” and I got very serious about getting my life under control.

So, I resolved to take advantage of my Wise Mind thinking and I got a Game Plan. I Followed Through with it and packed my food for my work day (planning, decided what to eat), stopped buying fruit (managed temptation), counted the calories throughout the day (Mindfulness), kept reminding myself of my goal to get control (All Day Daily Devotional), was Mindful of the two choices I had – to eat what I wanted and gain all my weight back or to control my eating and keep my weight down (Two Choices), put up tempting food that the family left out (more temptation management), and I Talked Myself Through impulses to eat something that would increase calories too much (Self-Talk, Talking Myself Through the Moment). I practiced what I preach. I wasn’t perfect though…but kept with it (Perseverance).

Just looked and the last entry was 10 days ago. In that time, I had 3 “bad days” in a row (1380 calories or more)– I pigged out on my husband’s home cooked beans and cornbread one day, another was a bunch of M&M’s, and another was chips. However, had many good days, too. Total calories this month is 1255, so, things have averaged out pretty good. Weight went up to 131 one day…and is now back to 124. 122 is my lowest during the last 4 years of dieting. Was often in the 124-125 range before things got out of control recently.

Other dynamics that have helped me over the past week have included…being overbusy and working long hours at work and having less time for food at home (I have been packing an insulated bag with food for work) , my husband hasn’t cooked since the beans and cornbread episode, I have been playing Zuma a lot when I’m home (pleasure and de-stressing time from overworking at work), and the kids have been VERY busy with school stuff in the evening and they haven’t been cooking much either!! So, the planets have lined up well…and all is well. Praise God. How can I forget…I also prayed and asked God to help me Get Control…because I was doing a horrible job of it on my own.

For some reason, I forgot that it was the 10 days after my period that my weight went up (like to 131 recently). Falling to 124 so fast caught my attention and I looked over my Excel spreadsheet and remembered that. So, I’m at a good time now when my weight should stay lower…for a few weeks. Would be fun to lose a new pound and get to 121.

It’s really unbelievable. I once thought that it would be impossible to hit 135…and that if I ever got to 165 it would be an amazing thing. I started out at 260 on my scale…(did I just put that in print) so, it is pretty unbelievable to be in the 120’s…or even under 200!

My goal is 112. I spent many years of my life in the teens…usually 115-118. If it’s do-able, I would like to hit 112 so I have a little room to move up and down and still stay below 118.

My kid was just reading this and asked why I wrote that I’ve lost 145 pounds if it’s only 136. I reminded her that I got pregnant during the last 4 years…gained weight during the pregnancy and when all was said and done after I lost the baby, I was 13 pounds higher. So, when I went back to my diet, I had to lose those 13 pounds again. So, in reality, I’ve lost 136 pounds + 13…so, I’m really at 149. I count those 13 because I had to lose them again…and regaining them wasn’t my fault…like going back up to 131!

Anyways, all’s well…for now. I guess that’s “for now in the diet world” because my life is entirely Out-of-Control at work…and I can’t stand the feeling. It’s not a wonder why I entitled the DBT-CBT Workbook, “Out-of-Control”!!! The way I’m dealing with that is by busting my butt to get caught up…or at least to get things well enough in control that I don’t feel so overwhelmed and desperately Out-of-Control! I’ll focus on that…work hard now…play later!

Balance is a big thing in the DBT-CBT recovery program and I noticed that I was achieving some semblance of balance by allowing myself to play Zuma for hours instead of working at home and making myself do things I didn’t feel like doing at home. I had to notice that because I felt guilty about playing so much Zuma!

I tell my Group folks that “normal” life isn’t a cakewalk…and “normal” folks aren’t so normal (ain’t I a good example! ) I tell them that “normal” life is stressful and it’s not easy…that “normal” people have many things to struggle with, too….and that’s it’s always something. Things are always “Coming At Us” that we have to struggle through and deal with…that the skills taught in the workbook not only apply to recovery from drugs and alcohol, or cutting and suicide attempts, or depression or Bipolar Disorder…that they are about how to deal with life in general.

I share with them glimpses of my struggles as examples now and then…and I let them know that even though I am years into recovery from my history of seriously self-destructive coping behaviors…I still have to deal with myself on a daily basis…and that I live, eat, and breathe the recovery principles in the workbook…and that I, too, get tired of having to deal with stuff ALL THE TIME!

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.