Episode 22 – Non-judgmental Stance

Today during my appointment we talked a lot about starting skills to handle intense negative emotion and another key point of DBT.

As I said in the last post, one aspect of DBT is removing the idea of “should” or “shouldn’t”. These are judgmental words, and in DBT you want to think more in terms of effective or ineffective, as put toward getting to that “my life worth living” idea, which varies from person to person.

All judgment, especially toward the self, is a key point of desired change. In emotion mind during a negative episode, self-deprecating thoughts are likely, such as, “I deserve this,” or, “I did this to myself.” Those two are common themes in my own bad episodes, and I turn to them as a sort of control mechanism, because they are the only things that “calm” me down – except really what they do is add to the negative emotions to the point of dissociation, which does feel like an improvement because the bad emotions are gone, but it’s just pushing the issues to the side instead of accepting or changing them.

Those two thoughts are judgmental thoughts, like “should” or “shouldn’t”, “deserve” or “don’t deserve”. During an emotionally-charged time, the goal should be to get rational mind back up and working – because during these times, rational mind has been temporarily disabled, essentially, so emotion mind has overwhelmed everything – by using the physical senses. I never saw the connection between grounding techniques and what part they play in state of mind, but focusing on sight, sound, touch, taste, and smell kickstarts the rational mind back into functioning and allows rational mind to take center stage and send emotion mind into the wings, so to speak.

The starting technique I’m using to prevent total emotional breakdowns is to get back into rational mind from emotion mind as a distraction. Later on, we will develop more effective ways of coping, but for now I’m using mindfulness techniques (my favorite is the “letting thoughts float down the river” one) to let judgmental thoughts flow out and to distract myself using rational mind. In the past as a sort of distraction, I’ve found myself thinking about evolution or dolphin anatomy, for example.

As an end note – mindfulness involves finding a sense of peace in the present. Some typical methods are: imagining your thoughts on boats floating by on a river, where you don’t climb onto any of the boats and let them float away; seeing your thoughts as clouds in the sky and letting them pass by; imagining thoughts as train cars as the train goes by. The focus is put on letting thoughts go and staying in the present moment by paying attention to physical sensations in the now. You can eat something, paying close attention to the taste and texture, or you can touch something, taking mental notes on the texture. There’s a multitude of mindfulness techniques; a simple Internet search would probably bring up a huge list of examples.

See you next week.

Published by Rawry

I'm just a writer and gamer living in the middle of nowhere..

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