DBT Skills: Opposite Action

In DBT class we discussed opposite action. When we feel an emotion an action comes with it. For some of us that action is destructive and acting on it reinforces a negative behaviour. For example, whenever I used to get angry I would scream and yell. When I began to use opposite action, instead of yelling I speak calmly but with a firm tone. It is the opposite of what the emotion wants me to do, but I have made a Wise Mind decision to behave in the opposite. This supports my brain in strengthening the pathways that support positive coping.

Today I found out something I wish I hadn’t (it’s not the end of the world, but it’s not what I wanted). I began to mope on the couch, my body feeling slow and heavy and smiling felt like too much effort. I cried a little and got some love from B before he left for work. I had the urge to sit on the couch all day, listening to sad music, watching lame tv and just give into the horrible feeling. I knew though that this was not an option! I decided to use opposite action! I got off the couch, did my hair and makeup, ran Do what is right, do what is good.: an errand and got myself my favourite cold drink at Starbucks.

I started feeling better the moment I left that house and I haven’t gone back down the road of sadness since. If I did though I will show myself compassion because I am allowed to feel upset, I just can’t let it ruin my day and my life.

Opposite action is up there on My Favourite DBT Skills list. I think many of you may already use this skill you just don’t have a name for it.

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16 thoughts on “DBT Skills: Opposite Action

  1. I agree, we may all have different names for it. Positive reinforcement from a bad experience and when it hits again to act differently and many other methods. 🙂 Glad you did not let it keep you down.

  2. Pingback: DBT Skills: Opposite Action | Borderline & PMDD

  3. when you first started this, did you really think it would help? i was skeptical, but tried it anyway. I am so grateful for this new way of thinking because I can get out of bed faster, change from being severely depressed to productive, and some times I even find myself laughing at things that used to cause a trigger. it is pretty amazing. Like Blapolar said something like, “if only she’d know about this as a kid . . .” I agree. If all of us could learn to communicate like this . . . what a wonderful world this could be.
    As always, I am grateful for your blog.

    • I don’t know if I was skeptical, but I became aware that I was already doing it and giving it a name reinforced it with me. Seeing it as a skill has helped me also. I’m so glad to hear that opposite action works for you!!! I plan on teaching these skills to my child 😛 Thank you, as always, for your comments Dee 🙂

  4. Pingback: My Self-Compassionate Day | Pride in Madness

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