Tag Archives: humanity

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

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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?