Category Archives: Willingness – Willfulness

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.

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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.

An Intro to Recovery from the Out-of-Control DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook

Welcome to DBT-CBT! This is an exciting time! You’re about to embark on a journey that CAN change your life! The original DBT program developed by Marsha M. Linehan, Ph.D. was designed to treat some of the MOST DIFFICULT to treat individuals…and the results have been ASTOUNDING! This program, DBT-CBT, is based on Dr. Linehan’s work, but it has been GREATLY modified! It includes many original concepts, principles, and techniques developed during 24 years of patient care. MANY PEOPLE have described DBT-CBT to be LIFE-CHANGING, so HAVE GREAT HOPE! Applying the principles of DBT-CBT to your life CAN BE LIFE-CHANGING…but only if you’re WILLING TO MAKE CHANGES in your life. I assume you have great interest in changing your life…in feeling better, in responding to the world better, and having better life outcomes and experiences… else, you wouldn’t be reading this book…especially an Intro!! You’ve already taken the first step on this journey…and the Road to Recovery! WELCOME ABOARD!

This workbook is written for people who are hurting and suffering the pain of life. It’s about bringing hope and peace and the life-changing gift of healing and recovery. I hope you heal and recover. I hope this workbook leads you there. Even if it’s just about “planting seeds” or watering the seeds of recovery that were planted before, then, IT IS GOOD. This workbook CAN BE life-changing…AND HOW I HOPE…it is YOUR LIFE that is changed!

Think about this…if we do not make positive changes in our life, our life will NOT change for the positive. Please remember this. Repeat it over and over…”IF I DO NOT MAKE POSITIVE CHANGES IN MY LIFE…MY LIFE WILL NOT CHANGE FOR THE POSITIVE.” Let that penetrate your soul. Making major life changes is hard to do, BUT with effort, support, and the grace of God, MANY people RECOVER! We all know these people or we’ve heard their stories. They’re RECOVERED drug addicts, alcoholics, career criminals, “treatment failures,” and “hopeless cases.” They’re people with long histories of depression, anger, anxiety, suicide attempts, self-mutilation, abusive relationships, aggression, eating disorders, Bipolar Disorder, codependency, Borderline Personality Disorder, and other major life issues. Something Happened and they became disgusted enough or slowed down long enough to Think Things Through. They set their heart, mind, soul, and spirit on recovery…and THEY RECOVERED.

Think about people you know who have recovered…or recovery stories you’ve heard. How did they do it? What changes did they make in their life?

Recovery Requires Us…

    …to make major life changes…including changes in how we think and respond to life…our life in the past, the present, and the future.

    …to turn away from old ways and respond to life in new ways.

    …to use Life-Enhancing Coping Skills to deal with tough and trying times rather than our preferred Self-Destructive Coping Behaviors.

    …to make changes in what we allow in our life and what we allow ourselves to be involved in.

    …to remove toxic people and situations from our life…and add life-enhancing, recovery-supporting people and situations.

    …to fill our life with meaningful activities and relationships…things that give life meaning and value.

    …to have hope and faith that things will get better as we get better.

    …to accept that life isn’t easy or always enjoyable.

    …to accept and deal with the difficult things that Come Our Way.

    …to give ourselves time to grow into and be…more and more the person we were designed to be.

People who recover make many changes in their life. They realize recovery is a process…a lifestyle…and NOT a one-time event! Recovery requires work. It’s work worth doing…because we’re worth the work and the people who love us and depend on us are worth our work and sacrifices! Recovery requires dedication and perseverance to live, eat, and breathe the principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle. This workbook also requires dedication and perseverance to work through. It’ll teach many principles, concepts, and skills for living a Recovery Lifestyle.

Our Humanity
It’s important to accept we’re human…and because of our humanity, we’ve made many errors and bad decisions. Most of us have done some pretty stupid and shameful things…and many self-defeating things over and over! We’re human and we have a record of our life to prove it! If you find yourself wearing these shoes, realize you’re not the trailblazer. Many have come before you…and many are walking the same path right now. You might say, “Yeah, some more than others!”…and you’re right!

We’re a product of our past experiences and the environments we were raised in. It’s RARE that a kid with a stable home environment, emotionally healthy parents, positive role models, and good self-esteem begins to live a troubled life. Something generally happened that led the kid off course. RARELY do kids with “good enough upbringings” just “go bad.” This isn’t meant to minimize OUR RESPONSIBILITY for our behavior and choices, but it’s important to understand “why we are the way we are” is because Something Happened in our life, be it one very difficult situation or many.

On Acceptance
Recovery requires us to accept what has happened…has happened…and what we’ve done, we’ve done. These things are of the past. They’re over and they’re done. Nothing we can do now will change the past. It’s history. It’s our history. Today is the present…and the things we do today CAN CHANGE our life…our today and our tomorrows. Focus on today and plan for tomorrow…and live the wisdom of “The Serenity Prayer” – “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

This workbook will help us develop skills to manage our life in the here-and-now. We’ll learn skills to cope effectively with our problems, to set boundaries to prevent and minimize emotional distress and problems, to gain peace and acceptance, and to make lifestyle changes which will gradually lead to relief, peace, then satisfaction, and finally, joy. Some people recover on the first try; however, recovery usually takes many attempts over many years. Some days may be easy…and some more difficult. Recovery hinges on minute-to-minute and hour-to-hour decisions to remain on the Recovery Path. We can help ourselves along the way by seeking people who will support and encourage us along the path of recovery…AND BY AVOIDING people who are critical or negative BECAUSE THESE PEOPLE ARE TOXIC TO OUR RECOVERY.

On Recovery
We can be “straight A” therapy students. We can earn extra credit on every assignment. We can have all the answers and understandings possible. However, to recover, WE’VE GOT TO BE WILLING TO APPLY THE PRINCIPLES OF RECOVERY TO OUR LIFE! Knowing what to do is one thing…actually doing it is another! We must DO recovery things and LIVE a Recovery Lifestyle. This often requires us to STEP OUT OF OUR COMFORT ZONE AND TAKE THE STEPS NECESSARY TO CHANGE OUR LIFE. The question is…“WHAT ARE YOU WILLING TO GIVE UP OR CHANGE IN ORDER FOR YOUR LIFE TO CHANGE…FOR THE BETTER?!!”

That’s a difficult question. Honestly reflect on it a minute. What are you WILLING to give up or change in order for your life to change?

No doubt you have some things in mind…and heart…that YOU KNOW MUST CHANGE…in order for YOUR LIFE to CHANGE and your LIFE SITUATIONS to IMPROVE. There are many things we need to give up and change. These are often things we have NO DESIRE to give up or change. That’s where we run into problems. We have the gut wisdom TO KNOW what these things are…they’re just hard to look at and deal with! What do you NEED TO CHANGE? This question will come up many times during this study. The answer you write today may be very different from your answer later. That’s because this study will help you gain insight and learn more about the things that mess up our lives and keep our lives messed up.

Take a few moments and reflect on your thoughts and feelings about this opening reading. Does it make you excited? Uneasy? Anxious? Does it bring a sense of hope and peace…and light at the end of the tunnel…or does it bring a sense of dread…or some of both?