Freedom from Compulsive Disorders

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(God) Thank you for keeping me straight yesterday. Please help me stay straight today. – paraphrased from ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS 

When I first began my recovery from codependency, I was furious about having to begin another recovery program. Seven years earlier, I had begun recovery from chemical dependency. It didn’t seem fair that one person should have to address two major issues in one lifetime. 

I’ve gotten over my anger. I’ve learned that my recoveries aren’t isolated from one another. Many of us recovering from codependency and adult children issues are also recovering from addictions: alcoholism, other drug dependency, gambling, food, work, or sex addiction. Some of us are trying to stay free of other compulsive disorders – ranging from care taking to compulsively feeling miserable, guilty, or ashamed. 

An important part of codependency recovery is staying clean and free of our compulsive or addictive behaviors. Recovery is one big room we’ve entered called healthy living. 

We can wave the white flag or surrender to all our addictions. We can safely turn to a Power greater than ourselves to relieve us of our compulsive behavior. We know that now. Once we begin actively working a program of recovery, God will relieve us of our addictions. Ask God each morning to help us stay free of our addictions and compulsions. Thank God for helping us the day before. 

Today, God, help me pay attention to all my recovery issues. Help me know that before I can work on the finer points of my recovery, such as my relationships, I must be free of addictive behaviors. 

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Daily Reflections May 1, 2016

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HEALING HEART AND MIND

Admitted to God. To ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.

TWELVE STEPS AND TWELVE TRADITIONS p.55

Since it is true that God comes to me through people, I can see that by keeping people at a distance I also keep God at a distance. God is nearer to me than I think and I can experience Him by loving people and allowing people to love me. But I can neither love not be loved if I allow my secrets to get in the way. 

It’s the side of myself that I refuse to look at that rules me. I must be willing to look at the dark side in order to heal my mind and heart because that is the road to freedom. I must walk into darkness to find the light and walk into fear to find peace. 

By revealing my secrets-and thereby ridding myself of guilt-I can actually change my thinking; by altering my thinking, I can change myself. My thoughts create my future. What I will be tomorrow is determined by what I think today. 

Why boundaries?

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“If we don’t know what we feel, we can’t know who we are. If we don’t know who we are, we cannot tell someone else who we are. We will be false selves.”

Most of our problems in life have to do with relationships, and the source of these problems in relationships are most likely tied to boundary issues. We will continue to have problems in relationships if we do not establish healthy boundaries for ourselves. Learning about boundaries and learning how to practice healthy boundaries takes time. We will always have to pay attention to them in order to maintain them; otherwise, we may revert back into old boundary habits. They are not established automatically.

Boundaries tell us what is our business and what is not our business. It is our business what we think of ourselves and what we think of other people, but it is none of our business what others think of us (unless we have violated their boundaries and owe them amends). Many of us allow our lives to be manipulated by the fear of what others think of us.

This fear of what others think of us is an indication that we have created false selves. These false selves are the people we were led to believe others would accept and nurture. If anyone appears not to like us or accept us, we we feel threatened because we fear rejection. We fear rejection because we’ve been rejected. We were rejected and our feelings were shamed during our development years. We were shaped by those no-talk rules in our non-nurturing, dysfunctional family: “It’s not OK to say that.” Dad’s drunk and the child says, “Dad’s drunk!” “No, Dad’s not drunk, Dad’s sick.” “Well, he fell down and passed out on the bathroom floor!” “He likes to take a nap about this time of the evening, and that’s just the way it is. He’s not drunk and your father’s not an alcoholic.”

In other words, we didn’t see what we saw, we didn’t hear what we heard, and what we thought was going on, was not what was going on. Those are crazy-making messages for a child and contribute to the creation of a false self.

The child says, “I’m tired of Dad not being here because he works all the time. It makes me angry.” “Shame on your for feeling that.” “Well, OK, Mom, what feeling would you like me to have?” “You should feel grateful.” “Oh, OK, I’ll be grateful that Dad’s never here because he works all the time and drinks the rest of the time.”

The child is made to believe that Dad is working so much and working so hard because of the family’s needs-that’s what makes him drink too much. “OK, now I’m supposed to feel grateful that he works, and guilty because it makes him drink, and ashamed because I feel angry, and rejected because what I think is going on is not what’s really going on.”

The little four or five-year-old is learning how to create a false self. When he’s grown, his feel hit the floor every morning and it’s “HEYYYYY, Mister False Self is here. How are you?” “Just fine, no problems at all.” “How ’bout some feelings?” “No, thank you. All that stuff is too confusing for me.”

We become who we think we are supposed to be and shame the person we really are. We live out our lives from behind those masks. Then, we go find another false self to have a relationship with. We are incapable of having an intimate relationship with another person who is real. We are threatened by the prospects of intimacy. Our relationship is like two pieces of a puzzle. We find a perfect fit and it feels close because we fit so well. We’re in LOVE. But there is no real intimacy. We’re really “in sick” or “in heat.” Together we seem to make one whole unit. But two half-people won’t make a full person. After a while the heat dies down between these two false selves, and she turns to him and says, “Well how do you feel?” And he says, “Well, I think…” “No, I didn’t ask what you thought, I asked how you felt.” “It doesn’t matter how I feel.” Well, I don’t think you love me.” “Of course I love you, I’m here, aren’t I? I haven’t left yet, have I?” Eventually this couple may end up in counseling on their way to the divorce court. The counselor may ask, “Tell me about yourself, Mr. Jones. Who are you?” “I work down at the mill over there, and I build these little widgets, and that’s what I’ve done for the last twenty years, and I’ll be retiring next year, and that’s what I do.” “No, no, Mr Jones. I asked who you are. You told me what you do.“”What do you mean, ‘who am I?'” “What do you like?” “What’s to like? You work, you pay bills, you sleep, you eat, you go back to work again.” “What do you do for fun?” “I’m fifty five years old. Fun is for kids. We don’t do fun.” “What was the last thing you and your wife did for fun?” “It was probably the year before we got married when we went to…”

Neither one of them can tell what they feel, think, want, or who they are. Their identities have been defined by this enmeshed, sick relationship they’ve been in for twenty years. All he knows is that he is sick and tired of her trying to fix him since the day they got married.

“I thought I was gonna, you know, get married and have a wife, and she’d have a husband. I didn’t know I was gonna be a project. And I can’t seem to get it right now matter what, so I don’t even try anymore.”

The more he retreats, the more frustrated she gets and that harder she tried to bring them closer by trying to be who and what he wants. Eventually, she gets so frustrated that she gives up and retreats also. Sometimes she’ll retreat to an affair, but eventually to a place of indifference toward him in order to avoid the pain associated with the relationship.

These situations involve boundaries. If we don’t know what we feel, we can’t know who we are. If we don’t know who we are, we cannot tell someone else who we are. We will be false selves.

Here, then, are some of the reasons we need healthy boundaries.

Healthy boundaries define who we are.

Healthy boundaries can help us to know who we are. They can help us to have a better sense of our separateness from others: where we end and others begin. Knowing who we are helps us to maintain a sense of reality. We will know who we are and are not, what we believe and don’t believe, what we think, feel, like and want.

Linda came in for counseling one day exasperated over her new-found revelation, “I just realized that I don’t know what I like to eat. I have been buying food and cooking all of these years out of habit, and I’ve suddenly realized I don’t even like the things I’ve been cooking and eating. I buy things in large volume just to save money, and I eat things I don’t like, thinking it is the frugal thing to do. I know I don’t like what Ive been eating, but I don’t know what I do like.”

Knowing who we are, what we believe, what we think, feel, like, and want means that people can no longer walk in and out of our lives at will-using and abusing us.

Complete the sentences below describing, as much as you can, some of the most basic things you know about yourself-thoughts, beliefs, opinions, likes, dislikes, wants, etc. Add to this list as you think of things in the future. Make up your own sentences.

I am a…(in relationship to others; for example, mother, father, brother, sister, etc.)

I am a…(things you do; for example, coach, painter, photographer, hunter, swimmer, teacher, student, writer, dreamer, etc.)

I am…(attributes and faults; for example, kind, helpful, selfish, stingy, pretty, ugly, stubborn, a push-over, etc.)

My best friend is…

The things I like are…

My favorite food is…

My favorite restaurant is…

My favorite color is…

My favorite clothes are…

My favorite TV choices are…

The things (or people) I hate are…

I believe God…

Healthy boundaries define who we are in relationship to others.

Healthy boundaries are intended to help us have good relationships. Some relationships are of our choosing and some are not. Often times we are stuck with relationships that are not of our choosing whether we like it or not. Some teenagers feel like they are stuck with their parents. You may be stuck with people you don’t like on the job, in the neighborhood, or in your religious group. Boundaries that define who we are help us to maintain our sanity in these unpleasant relationships. They help us to know what the extents and limits are with those with whom we are connected-how to let in what is good and keep out what is bad.

Coping with Anger

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Anger problems are common among people with dual disorders. Much friction can be caused in a relationship if you ignore your anger or act on it in ways that hurt others physically or emotionally. Anger problems can interfere with recovery if you don’t cope with these feelings in positive ways.

Anger can also empower you if dealt with in a positive way. It can motivate you to set or reach goals or work hard to accomplish things in your life.

It is not your feelings of anger that causes problems but how you think about and express it that determines how anger affects your life. Some people try to ignore their anger and let it build up. They stew on the inside and become upset or depressed. They express anger indirectly by dragging their feet, forgetting important dates of people they feel anger toward, criticizing others behind their backs, or avoiding people they are mad at.

Other people let their anger out much too quickly and impulsively. They lash out at others and yell, cuss, scream, or act in other hostile ways. Some become violent, get into fights, or destroy objects or property. Violence is a significant problem for people with a substance abuse or psychiatric disorder.

The questions that follow will help assess your anger and how you express it.

  1. On a scale of 1 to 10, how much of a problem is your anger or how you cope with it or express it. 1-Somewhat of a problem  3-Moderate Problem  5-Serious Problem  7-Very serious  10-severe/life threatening.
  2. My anger usually shows in the following ways (i.e., I get sad, frustrated, pace, and feel nervous, etc.),
  3. I usually deal with anger by (i.e., holding it inside, letting it out immediately, talking it out, lashing out at others, fighting, etc.).
  4. I learned the following from my parents about anger or how to express it:
  5. My anger affects my physical or mental health in the following ways:
  6. My anger affects my relationships in the following ways:
  7. My anger affects my use of alcohol or other drugs by:
  8. I am still very angry at the following people:
  9. I can use my anger in a positive way by:

Setting a Goal

My goal in relation to how I cope with my anger is:

Steps I will take to reach this goal are:

Potential benefits of reaching my goal are:

Strategies for Managing Your Anger

  •  Recognize your angry feelings.

Pay attention to body cues, thoughts, and behaviors that tell you that you are angry. Use your anger cues to admit you are angry. Don’t deny, hide, minimize, or ignore your anger.

  • Figure out why you are angry.

When you feel angry figure out where it is coming from. Does it relate to something another person did or said to you? Does it relate to an event, experience, or situation? Or, is your anger caused by the way you think about things?

  • Decide if you really should feel angry.

Are you an angry person who seems to get mad too often or for no good reason? When angry, ask yourself if the facts of the situation warrant an angry reaction on your part. Or, ask yourself if your anger is the result of a character defect (i.e., you get mad frequently for little things).

  • Identify the effects of your anger and your methods of coping with anger.

How does your anger and your methods of coping with it affect your physical, mental, or spiritual health? How are your relationships with family members, friends, or others affected?

  • Use different strategies to deal with anger

These include cognitive (your beliefs about anger and the internal messages you give yourself), behavioral (how you act), and verbal (what you say to other people) strategies. Having a variety of strategies puts you in a good position to cope with anger in a wide range of situations.

  • Cognitive strategies for anger management include:
  • Evaluating your beliefs about anger and changing those beliefs that cause you problems. For example, if you believe you should “let it out” every time you get angry, you may find this isn’t always the best policy and that this belief should be modified. Or, if you believe you should never get mad, you might have to change this belief and give yourself permission to feel anger.
  • Catching yourself when you are angry and changing your angry thoughts.
  • Determining if your anger is really justified given the situation. This requires not jumping to conclusions and getting all of the facts of the situation first.
  • Using positive self-talk or slogans (for example, “this too shall pass,” “keep your cool and stay in control,” etc.)
  • Using fantasy. Imagine yourself coping in a positive way.
  • Evaluating the risks and benefits of expressing your anger or holding it inside.
  • Reminding yourself of negative effects of ignoring anger and holding it inside.
  • Reminding yourself of negative effects of expressing anger toward others in hurtful ways.
  • Identifying the benefits of handling anger in a positive way.
  • Taking a few minutes at the end of the day to see if you are harboring any anger from the events of the day.
  • Verbal strategies for anger include:
  • Sharing your feelings with whom you are angry.
  • Discussing the situation or problem that contributed to your anger directly with whom you are angry.
  • Sharing your angry feeling with a friend, family member, therapist, AA, NA, or CA sponsor. Many find it helpful to discuss anger at support group meetings.
  • Discussing the situation or problem that contributed to your anger with a neutral person to get their opinion on the situation.
  • Apologizing or making amends to others who were hurt as a result of how you expressed your anger.
  • Behavior strategies for anger management include:
  • Directing angry energy toward physical activity such as walking, exercising, or sports.
  • Directing feelings of anger toward some type of work.
  • Expressing your anger with creative media such as painting, drawing, and other forms of arts and crafts.
  • Writing about your feelings in a journal or anger log.

 

 

 

Mindfulness. Take two.

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(DBT lectures are meant to be followed in order, because they build off one another.)

Mindfulness consists of psychological and behavioral skills drawn from Eastern Mindfulness practices.

Mindfulness skills help you to:

  • Be grounded with a stronger sense of self.
  • More consciously observe and experience yourself and your environment.
  • Reduce your feelings of emptiness.
  • Reduce cognitive disturbances such as dissociation ( where one compartmentalizes certain thoughts, emotions, memories, or splits off from them because they are too overwhelming) and delusions (ideas/beliefs system that is maintained in spite of evidence to the contrary and where one feels detached from one’s body or mental processes).
  • Increases your awareness of the present moment, without judgment.

3 PRIMARY STATES OF MIND ARE PRESENTED IN DBT:

REASONABLE (RATIONAL) MIND

“You are in your Reasonable Mind when you are approaching knowledge intellectually, are thinking rationally and logically, attend to empirical facts, are planful in your behavior, you focus your attention, and you are “cool: in your approach to problems.”

It is your rational thinking, logical mind. It is that part that plans and evaluates things logically. It is your “cool” part.”

  • Thinks rationally and evaluates things logically
  • Attends to facts
  • Plans behavior
  • Focuses attention
  • Approach to problems is “cool”

Reasonable mind can be beneficial:

  • People can build roads, homes, cities.
  • Can follow instructions
  • Solve logical problems.
  • Do math or science.
  • Run Meetings.

It is easier to be in Reasonable Mind when you feel good.

It is harder to be in Reasonable Mind when you don’t feel good.

We would use the Reasonable Mind to balance a checkbook; figure out the fastest way to get from A to B; etc. Reasonable Mind gives you a way to solve your problems.

EMOTIONAL MIND

“You are in Emotional Mind when your emotions are in control – when they influence your thinking and your behavior.”

  • Thinking and behavior are controlled by the current emotional state.
  • Thoughts are “hot” (In CBT and DBT, “Hot Thoughts” are thoughts that cause a lot of emotional suffering and can cause distorted thinking – thought after thought- like a “snow ball effect” and we can end up spinning with them).
  • Reasonable and logical thinking is difficult.
  • Facts are amplified of distorted to be congruent with the current emotional state.
  • The energy of the behavior is also congruent with the current emotional state.

Emotional Mind can be beneficial:

  • Intense love motivates relationships.
  • Intense devotion or desire motivates staying with hard tasks.
  • Intense love or hate has fueled wars.
  • Feeling passionate about people, causes, beliefs.
  • Emotions are what motivates us into action.
  • Emotions are what keep us attached to others and building relationships.
  • Motivation or reason to want to solve your problems.

Problems with Emotional Mind occur when:

  • The results are positive in the short term but negative in the long term.
  • The experience itself is very painful or leads to other painful states and events (e.d. anxiety and depression).

Emotion Mind can be aggravated by:

  • Illness
  • Lack of sleep; tiredness
  • Drugs; alcohol
  • Hunger, bloating, overeating, poor nutrition
  • Environmental stress (too many demands)
  • Environmental threats
  • Lack of exercise

WISE MIND

  • The integration of Reasonable Mind and Emotional Mind
  • Adds intuitive knowing to emotional experiencing and logical analysis.
  • That part of each person that can know and experience truth.
  • It is the place where the person knows something to be valid or true.
  • It is the place where the person knows something in a centered (balanced) way.
  • It is almost always quiet and calm in this part of your mind.

Mindfulness Skills help balance Emotion Mind and Reasonable Mind to achieve Wise Mind. Mindfulness Skills facilitate the development of, and ability to, access Wise Mind.

  • You can not overcome or control Emotional Mind with Reasonable Mind.
  • You can not create Emotion Mind with Reason.
  • Everyone has a Wise Mind. Some people perhaps have not experienced it.
  • No-one is in Wise Mind all of the time.
  • It is easy to confuse the Emotional Mind and Wise Mind because both have the quality of “feeling” something to be true. Intense emotions can generate feelings of certainty that mimic the Wise Mind.
  • Wise mind is in your heart (emotions) and in your head (reason). Certainty comes from both.
  • You must go within and integrate the two.
  • Wisdom, wise mind, or wise knowing is knowing by observing, knowing by analyzing logically, knowing by what we experience in our bodies (kinetic and sensory experience), knowing by what we do, and knowing by intuition.

E.g., Patient makes a statement: “I feel un-loveable” as if the feeling state provides information about the empirical reality. Question the patient: I’m not interested in how you feel. I’m not interested in what you believe or think. I am interested in what you know to be true in your Wise Mind.” The dialectical tension here is between what the patient feels to be true (emotion Mind) and what she thinks to be true (Reasonable Mind). The synthesis is what she/he knows to be true (Wise Mind). Linehan Pg. 42

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction To DBT

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The main course – as I like to call it – I take in outpatient treatment is called DBT. DBT stands for: Dialectical Behavior Therapy. It is an intense therapy method used for many different reasons. I call it a course because it is just as hard as the courses I take in college! Maybe even a little harder, because the homework I get for the lectures are all about being mindful and in touch with myself and being in the process of actively changing my “wiring” so to speak. I hope that sharing DBT with you will be beneficial and hopefully not to challenging to understand in this medium.

Here goes. I am starting from the very beginning.

Introduction to Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT)

1. Dialectical: Any systematic reasoning or argument that places opposed or contradictory ideas together and seeks to resolve this conflict.

2. Biosocial Theory of DBT: This involves a biological disposition (not necessarily hereditary) in an environmental context.

A. Emotion Regulation: The combination of an emotional response system that is oversensitive and overactive with an inability to modulate (manage) the resulting strong emotions and actions.

1. Emotional Vulnerability Characteristics:

  • Increased sensitivity
  • Increased intense response
  • Slow return to baseline

2. Emotion Modulation Goals:

  • Decreased inappropriate behavior
  • Increased organization to act appropriately
  • Self-soothe physiological arousal
  • Refocus attention when “emotional”

B. Invalidating Environment & Effect on Emotional Vulnerability:

1. High emotional sensitivity, plus a lack of validation of emotional experiences, teaches the child to distrust his/her emotional responses, leading to either overreaction to emotions or under-reaction (ignores)  of needs or preferences.

2. This combination leads to behavior changes reinforced by the invalidating environment and may result in a Vicious Cycle: the invalidating environment leads to inappropriate behavior by the individual which results in more invalidation. Both the environment and the child (now adult) may exhibit the following behaviors:

  • Responds erratically & inappropriately to the individual’s experience (thoughts, feelings, sensations, etc). The invalidating environment is especially insensitive when individual’s experiences are not validated by the public (outside of invalidating environment).
  • Responds in extreme fashion  (overreact or under react) to the individual’s experiences that DO have public agreement/validation.
  • Ignores or disregards needs and/or preferences, as well as beliefs and communications. Further, the invalidating environment might punish the individual’s assertiveness.
  • Emphasizing controlling emotional expressiveness, especially “negative” feelings. Emotional pain is trivialized and attributed to the person’s negative traits. For example, the invalidating environment may blame the individual for their emotional pain, such as accusing them of lack of discipline, lack of motivation, or failure to adopt a positive attitude.
  • Restricts demands a child may make upon the environment.
  • Discriminates against the child based on arbitrary characteristics of the individual.
  • Using abusive punishment to control behavior.

C. Effect of Invalidating Environment:

It increases emotion dysregulation by failing to teach the child to label and manage arousal, to tolerate stress, and to trust his/her own emotional responses as valid interpretations of events. The child learns to invalidate his/her own experiences, making it necessary for them to scan the environment for cues about how to act and feel. The invalidating environment oversimplifies life’s experiences and the task of solving life’s problems. Therefore, it fails to teach how to set realistic goals. Moreover, by punishing the expression of “negative” emotions and erratically reinforcing emotional communication only after escalation by the child, the invalidating environment teaches the individual to adopt an all or nothing emotional expression style that vacillates between extreme suppression and extreme reaction.

3. Consequences of Emotion Dysregulation and Invalidating Environment

A. Impulsive Behavior (especially parasuicide) is maladaptive but effective. EX:

  • Overdosing: increased sleep, which decreases emotion dysregulation;
  • Parasuicide Act: distract or get attention to decrease emotional pain.

B. Inadequate Development and Maintenance of Sense of Self: One’s sense of self is formed by observations of oneself and of others’ reactions to one’s actions.

  • Emotional consistency and predictability, across time and similar situations, are prerequisites of identity development. Unpredictable emotional changes lead to unpredictable behavior and inconsistent thought, which interferes with identity development.
  • In addition, the numbness associated with suppressing emotions is often experienced as emptiness, which decreases sense of self.
  • If an individual’s sense of events is never “correct” or unpredictably “correct” (the situation is an invalidating environment), then the individual may develop an over-dependence on others.

C. Chaotic Relationships: Effective relationships depend on a stable sense of self, capacity for spontaneity in emotional expression, appropriate regulation (management) of emotions and toleration of emotional pain. Emotion dysregulation interferes with these abilities.

Note: In a healthy, non-chaotic relationship, both people feel ‘free to be me’.

Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients (people) With Emotional Pain

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I received a handout titled Grounding: A Coping Skill for Clients With Emotional Pain in one of my classes. Instead of summarizing the worksheet I will transfer the worksheet onto this blog by hand. I think these skills are extremely helpful and I do some of them myself and they work wonderfully. I hope you can try some out too!

“Three major ways of grounding will be described-mental, physical, and soothing. “Mental” means focusing your mind; “Physical” means focusing on your senses (e.g., touch, hearing); and “soothing” means talking to yourself in a very kind way. You may find that one type works better for you, or all types may be helpful. Note that grounding is different from relaxation training or meditation. In grounding, it is essential to keep your eyes open the entire time and to keep talking out loud. These strategies keep you focused on the outside world.

Mental Grounding

  • Describe your environment in detail using all your senses. For example, “The walls are white, there are five pink chairs, there is a wooden bookshelf against the wall…” Describe objects, sounds, textures, colors, smells, shapes, numbers, and temperature. You can do this anywhere. For example, on the subways: “I’m on the subway. I’ll see the river soon. Those are windows. This is the bench. The metal bar is silver. The subway map has four colors…”
  • Play a “categories” game with yourself. Try to name “types of dogs,” “Jazz musicians,” “States that begin with “A”,” “cars,” “TV shows,” “writers,” “sports,” “songs,” or “cities.”
  • Do an age progression. If you have regressed (mentally) to a younger age (e.g, 8 years old), you can slowly work your way back up (e.g, “I’m now 9” “I’m now 10,” “I’m now 11″…) until you are back to your current age.
  • Describe an everyday activity in great detail. For example, describe a meal that you cook (e.g., “First I peel the potatoes and cut them into quarters, then I boil the water; I make an herb marinade of oregano, basil, garlic, and olive oil…”).
  • Imagine. Use an image: Glide along on skates away from your pain; change the TV channel to get a better show; think of a wall as a buffer between you and your pain.
  • Say a safety statement. “My name is ____; I am safe right now. I am in the present, not the past. I am located in _____; the date is _____.”
  • Read something saying each word to yourself. Or read each letter backwards so that you focus on the letters and not on the meaning of the words.
  • Use humor. Think of something funny to jolt yourself out of your mood.
  • Count to 10 or say the alphabet, very s..l..o..w..l..y.

Physical Grounding

  • Run cool or warm water over your hands.
  • Grab onto your chair as hard as your can.
  • Touch various objects around you: a pen, keys, your clothing, the table, the walls. Notice textures, colors, materials, weight, temperature. Compare objects you touch: Is one colder? Lighter?
  • Dig your heels into the floor-literally “grounding” them. Notice the tension centered in your heels as you do this. Remind yourself that you are connected to the ground.
  • Carry a grounding object in your pocket-a small object ( a small rock, clay or silly puddy, ring, piece of cloth or yarn, a stress ball) that you can touch whenever you feel triggered (anxious, panicky, etc.)
  • Jump up and down in a gentle way. Only coming off the ground a couple inches.
  • Use all five senses. For example: notice five things around you that are a certain color, notice four things you can physically touch, notice three things that you hear, notice two things that you can feel, notice one thing that you can smell. They don’t have to go in this order; you can mix them up.
  • Notice your body: The weight of your body in the chair; wiggling your toes in your socks; the feel of your back against the chair. You are connected to the world.
  • Stretch. Extend your fingers, arms, or legs as far as you can; roll your head around.
  • Clench and release your fists.
  • Walk slowly, noticing each footstep, saying “left” and then “right,” whit each step.
  • Eat something, describing the flavors in detail to yourself.
  • Focus on your breathing noticing each inhale and exhale. Repeat a pleasant word to yourself on each inhale (e.g., a favorite color or a soothing word such as “safe” or “easy”).

Soothing Grounding

  • Say kind statements as, as if you were talking to a small child. For example, “You are a good person going through a hard time. You’ll get through this.”
  • Think of favorites. Think of your favorite color, animal, season, food, time of day, or TV show.
  • Picture people you care about (e.g., your children), and look to photographs of them.
  • Remember the words to an inspiring song, quotation, or poem that makes you feel better, such as the Serenity Prayer.
  • Remember a safe place. Describe a place that you find very soothing (perhaps the beach or mountains, or a favorite room); focus on everything about that place-the sounds, colors, shapes, objects, and textures.
  • Say a coping statement. “I can handle this.” “This feeling will pass.”
  • Plan out a treat for yourself, such as a piece of candy, a nice dinner, or a warm bath.
  • Think of things you are looking forward to in the next week, perhaps time with a friend, going to a movie, or going on a hike.
  • Create a cassette tape of a grounding message that you can play when needed; consider asking your therapist or someone close to you to record it if you want to hear someone else’s voice.
  • Think about why grounding works. Why might it be that by focusing on the external world, you become more aware of an inner peacefulness? Notice the methods that work for you-why might those be more powerful for you than other methods?
  • Don’t give up.

Try to just pick 1 or 2 things from each category of grounding and see how they work for you. You could always refer pack to this post to try new ones. I have about 11 techniques that work for me; every one will use different techniques for different reasons.

Love,

Shadow.

God, grant me the Serenity to accept the things I can not change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Amen.

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