This week in my DBTPath class we discussed a group of skills that can positively support us in achieving our goals. One of these skills was using our imagination. I greatly enjoy using my imagination so this skill spoke to me. I had recently been challenged by a colleague (who is providing me and others with public speaking training) to begin to imagine myself doing the things I want to do which can prepare the brain to do just that. Because of him I was already beginning to use my imagination for personal change so I am glad that it is used within DBT as well!
When I say imagination in this context I do not mean creating a fantasy. What I mean is using your imagination to create a possible reality that you can achieve. Imagine yourself succeeding at your goal! When I use this skill I ask myself these questions to create the scene:
- What steps will I take to succeed at my goal?
- What will I say?
- How will I feel?
- How will I cope with potential roadblocks?
Let me provide you with an example. When I am finishing up work I always say to myself, “B will not be home and I will be there alone.” What I have tried to start to do is imagine myself coping effectively if he is not home. This is my narrative (written in present tense).
I call B and ask him what he is up to. He tells me that he is out with a friend and will be home later. I ask him when later and he tells me a time. I get off the phone and take a deep breathe and calm myself. I get on the bus to the subway. On the bus and subway ride I read my book. I feel excited reading about what happens to the characters. I walk to my apartment and call my Mom. I chat with her about her day and my day but not about B being out. I feel happy. When I get to my apartment I say goodbye to my Mom. I step inside and see that the apartment is empty and I take a deep breath. I feel calm. I begin to make myself dinner, something I really enjoy eating. I feel satisfied. I put on Netflix and watch a new show or documentary. I watch Netflix while I blog, go on Facebook and do other internet things. I feel productive. I do this until I feel myself becoming tired. I go into my bedroom and call B to say goodnight. I ask him to keep me posted about when he is coming home. He says yes. This makes me feel respected and calm. I read a bit before I turn off the light and begin deep breathing to help me fall asleep. I feel relaxed. B comes home, we cuddle in bed and fall asleep. I feel loved.
Now, that I have a game plan of what success looks like I can do it myself! I am finding the above narrative effective. I may still feel anxiety at the fact that B is out, but I still go through the motions of keeping myself occupied. It gets easier each time and I am very proud of myself for achieving this goal. 🙂