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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.  ______________________________________________


and UNDERSTAND they’re a NATURAL part
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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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!


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.


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.

Can You Lose Weight By Diet Alone…Or Do You Have To Exercise?

I have LOST 150 POUNDS WITHOUT EXERCISING! I’ve lost weight slowly over the past four years. I lost about 5 pounds a month for the first year…about 3 pounds a month for the next two years…and now I’m losing 0-2 pounds a month. I’ve lost about 13 pounds during the last 12 months.

My ideal body weight is in the range of 105 to 135 and I’m averaging about 125 now. It’s harder to lose weight now and it takes a whole lotta Mindfulness and determination to maintain my weight and to lose any weight.

I was modestly active most of my life, but the last 15 years has been high work, two kids, and little else…and mostly desk time. When I was planning how I would diet, I did not want to add exercise to my lifestyle because I realized it was VERY unlikely that I would maintain that lifestyle for any length of time. I felt it was a set up for failure…start slipping with exercise…start feeling bad about myself…and here I go…relapse fixin’ to happen! I chose to focus on diet alone and obviously this has worked very well for me.

I knew how to do “diet” because to maintain normal body weight for the first 30 years of my life, I had to keep calories low…so, I already had those skills. So, I chose to focus on what I would have the highest likelihood of success with…and avoided anything I felt could increase the likelihood of failure. I sat down and completed a DBT-CBT Therapy Workbook “Game Plan” for weight loss.

I included every diet tip I could think of and I reflected on how I used to do things when my weight was low. I decided I would drink a lot of water, not starve myself, eat breakfast to get my metabolism going for the day, eat what I was REALLY craving…and work to balance things out, count calories, eat something before leaving work so I wouldn’t arrive home starving to death, avoid food fests, avoid temptation, do the chocolate binge and get rid of the leftovers…etc.

Overall, the first four years of the diet were fairly easy, but now I’m struggling. I smoked for the last 18 months through June 2009 – recently quit…and it’s been harder to keep calories low. Weight is still good, but the struggle is certainly there. It’s not easy anymore! I was always aware that as I got my weight down, I’d probably begin to exercise so I would look better…well, I think it is time to exercise so I’ll look better, but the biggest impetus is to be able to eat about 100 calories more per day!

I’ve STARTED to exercise twice during the last year…but haven’t maintained it for more than a week at a time! Once I got that shoulder blade muscle cramping thing…the one with horrible pain that just doesn’t go away…and you can’t even breathe or move for awhile. The last time, I started to get sick…was exhausted…and didn’t want to stress my body! I am going to try to do a little at a time…not get so excited and ambitious and increase the amount or intensity so fast…just going to try to have some balance! Me, balance….ha! But, I’m going to try so I don’t sabotage myself AGAIN!!!!!

Why Am I Eating More and Gaining Weight: Using DBT-CBT Principles to Become Mindful of Mindless Eating

I’ve gone through a very hard time in recent months with my “diet”…or better said, “my eating plan.” My positive eating patterns had become a habit and little emotional energy was invested in the process. I had peace and stability in this area of life. People would ask, “Isn’t it hard to stay on a diet?” No, it really wasn’t because I HAD developed good eating habits…and eating in this manner was natural for me. It was more of a lifestyle than a diet.

But, SOMETHING HAPPENED and these past few months became the most trying time during my four year diet. Not sure what happened, but somehow things got Out-of-Control. I struggled through…and regained fairly good control. Naturally, I’ve been reflecting on WHAT HAPPENED…because I don’t want to let this lifestyle slip through my fingers and for things to get out of hand! I don’t want to get fat again…I don’t want to start the weight gain cycle…AGAIN.

Here’s some things I have thought about. I FINALLY quit smoking in June after 6 attempts this year! Quitting smoking leads to increased eating because my hands and mouth aren’t busy…and reduced metabolism because I’m not loaded with nicotine…HELLO WEIGHT GAIN…and increased appetite!

Another thing that has changed in the last couple of months is that I started taking a daily multivitamin. Now, I haven’t studied recently, but from what I remember, vitamins increase appetite. Not sure why that happens…or if that’s really true. Just some tidbit of information I picked up and think is true.

Another thing…I began living on fruit…fruit was my mainstay…the largest source of calories per day. I loved the fruit diet! However, something was going on and I was craving sweets more…like CHOCOLATE! I was eating the Snickers protein bars…Mmmmm good…however, they are 290 calories each. When I seek to keep calories below 1300 or so a day…that adds up F-A-S-T!!!!

So, I’ve stopped eating fruit…and this has led to a major decrease in the sweet munchies. I’m thinking the sugar in the fruit did something to increase my appetite for SUGAR! In my four years of dieting, I would chocolate binge about once every 4-6 weeks…and while on the fruit diet, the craving for CHOCOLATE was STRONG…and something I gave in to. I believe in “have a craving…satiate it and go on with life.” That has worked very well for me…because I’d eat 800 calories of chocolate…eat less dinner or no dinner…and suffer little net gain in calories that day…and little effect on the monthly average…and little effect on my weight…until recent months!

Another thing that happened in July…is that an overwhelming workload greatly increased…and the type of stress changed…from internal pressure to get the job done…to external pressure…like performance counseling…and a 30-day deadline! I expect the extra stress and the type of distress affected me, too.
Anyways, lots of changes…radical physiological and psycho-emotional changes (nicotine withdrawal and loss, diet change with increased fructose and then refined sugar…and EMOTIONAL STRESS from work…and stress from my daily diet spiraling out of control! You know, I’m sure there are other factors too…that I’m not currently aware of…but, those are the biggest ones on my mind right now!!!! You know…I may have gotten cocky too…had my weight down real good…had this diet thing “down to a science”…and then…slacked off a bit!

Anyways, things have gone fairly well the last 3-4 weeks…actually regained some semblance of peace and stability in my eating. Revisited the 124-125 range…the size 7’s fit again…(size 9 slim fits are sized like a 7!). Went out of town a few days…and did alright. Not a major pig out…ate some restaurant food, but did well with that. Got favorite foods and ate about half. Some extra calories…but nothing Out-of-Control! Back to work tomorrow, will tighten up again…and go on with life. Average calories for October was in the normal range for me…similar to the last 4 years…so,, that’s good!

The last couple of posts in October note what I did to try to get control, so I don’t want to restate EVERYTHING here…cuz I can’t remember and I’m too tired to go back and check!!!! I am Mindful right now that I greatly increased Mindfulness of my eating plan…by reminding myself of my goal (stability in eating, weight management, not get fat again!), counting calories all day so I’m not engaging in mindless eating and CALORIE SHOCK at the end of the day when entering data in the Excel file, controlled portions and food selection (toting certain foods to work and not toting others…and choosing how much to bring, deciding what I’d eat when I got home, eating a little something before I leave work so I don’t go home STARVING TO DEATH…and ready to scarf everything in sight), and temptation management (telling family about my struggle and how to help…DON’T BUY FATTENING FOOD AT THE STORE…and certainly don’t bring it in and let me see it…AND me not buying fattening foods at the store…the ones that are MY favorites!) So, I went back to my early days of dieting…what I did then that worked best for me…to attempt to regain control over my eating.

Another thing I considered is that my weight is low…calorie needs are lower than the early days of dieting…I may be reaching my low…and this may be as low as things naturally go…and I may need to revise MY goal to go lower…and just focus on maintaining this weight…that it may be unreasonable to push myself to lose more. So, with all this in mind…I’m TRYING to be Mindful and to approach this diet thing with Rational Mind and Wise Mind…because Emotional Mind is eating me up!

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!