Dialectical Behavior Therapy
DBT: Thinking and Acting Dialectically
Walking the Middle Path is between acceptance and change. It is a balance. It requires both to be effective.
“Everything in the universe is the next step: just one step, just one breath, just one moment.” Marsha Linehan, Founder of DBT
Nothing stays the same…that is the certainty of life. Change will happen. Change is constant. If now what you are experiencing is stressful, keep in mind that very few things remain the same.
Emotions are neither good or bad, right or wrong. Feelings just are. They exist, for better or worse. There is a difference between having an emotion and doing or acting on the emotion. Remember emotions don’t last forever. This is easy to say, but in the moment when the emotion comes you do not have to act on your feeling. All you need to do is recognize the emotion and feel it. Emotions are not fact. When emotions are strong they often feel like the truth, but they are just emotions.
So what can you do, our emotions serve important survival functions. Feelings come and go, from one moment to the next, it takes a different mindset to just accept your emotions as they arise and not automatically react to them.
But here is the irony: our brain is hardwired to pay attention more often to what’s negative. This is because as a human race our evolutionary development has been hardwired to survival not happiness. This doesn’t mean that good moments are not happening, we are not wired to pay attention to them. As the psychologist Rick Hanson puts it, “The brain is Velcro for negative experiences, Teflon for positive ones” This fixation on what might be threatening is compounded by another tendency, called Confirmation Bias, which leads us to focus on information that matches or reinforces our existing beliefs, particularly charged issues like our value and identity as a person.
So what can we do? Through Mindfulness Awareness Practice and (DBT) Skills Training we can rewire the brain to pay more attention to the positive moments in life.
If you watch your thoughts, you may discover the Judge in the background, constantly asking “How am I doing?” and condemning that momentary gap between some ideal standard and what is. Right around the corner you may notice worrying thoughts , that you are not alright, or how you’ll be rejected for your flaws. As long as we continue our fear-based thinking, our beliefs will maintain their strength.
This is a skill that everyone can develop and practice in order to create more balance and harmony in their life.