DBT Skills: Empowering Ourselves Through Skills

I can be Wise 🙂

My time with DBT Path is almost done 😦 I have done all the modules and my life is forever changed. Probably the most important lesson I learned from Debbie and Amanda is that having DBT skills is empowering!

When I first entered DBT on my own a few years ago, when I purchased the McKay, Wood and Brantley book, my focus was changing myself. I needed to change to keep my relationship together and it was all about fixing myself for others. I wanted people to be able to tolerate being around me. I admit that I also went into DBT Path with a similar attitude (“I must fix myself”) but I very quickly realized that DBT is about me. DBT is about empowerment. DBT is about me having confidence in myself and my interactions with my world. I hope I am explaining this right. DBT skills make it feel like I’m breathing clearly for the first time. 

The amount of times I found myself screaming, crying, yelling, swearing and physically hurting myself was horrible. Feeling that out of control feeds the problem. Having control over my emotions, thoughts and behaviours is extremely empowering. Knowing skills like DEAR MAN, VITALS, Opposite Action, Behaviour Chain Analysis, PLEASE and more give me power. I can be who I want to be. The change this as happened in almost a year has been unbelievable.

I recently found myself in a disagreement over Facebook with an acquaintance. I disagreed with a post they put on Facebook. When I expressed my dislike for the post they were not happy with me and sent a message, which I believeyou did it was attacking me. I chose not to engage with that message and instead sent a fair and true explanation of my comment. I did not attack. Their message back did not mention anything I said in my message unless it was used to further attack me. I ended the conversation stating that we are both human, make mistakes and are doing the best we can. For me, this moment is pivotal.

What I wanted to do:

  • scream
  • swear
  • attack them (rip them apart and drag them through the mud)
  • I wanted to scream and hurt myself for getting into this mess
  • I wanted to doubt myself for standing up for what I believe in

But, none of that happened.

What I did:

  • I stayed firm in my values
  • I believed in myself
  • I communicated properly
  • I tried to defuse the situation appropriately
  • walked away when I decided I needed to
  • I accepted that their interpretation of my comment was theirs and that they were responsible for their actions, thoughts and behaviours, not me.

Did I have a little rant to B and some close friends? OF COURSE! I am still allowed to be upset at the situation but I knew I couldn’t dwell on it and let it consume me. I knew I couldn’t the situation seep into my body and mind. It has been an extremely empowering few days as I have worked through it. I chose what to do, how to react, what to think, how to feel. I chose! I CHOSE!

DBT is not just for individuals with BPD. It is for anyone who experiencing extreme emotions and I would even say that these are skills for EVERYONE. I plan on teaching these skills to my own children. If you ever have the opportunity to learn DBT I highly suggest you take it. DBT Path is a great place to start! Check your local hospitals, community health centres, therapists directories and mental health organizations to see what they have to offer. There are so many books on DBT that learning about it and practicing is possible. Check out my BPD Resources page for DBT resources (some are Toronto specific).

You deserve it.

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5 thoughts on “DBT Skills: Empowering Ourselves Through Skills

  1. I could not agree with you more. I was on a blog yesterday and the person who wrote it said that therapy cannot work alone for severe mental illness. Poooooey! You are proof, I am proof, and I know many others are proof that it works if you work it.
    Thanks for sharing you story!

    • Thank you for sharing your’s Dee!

      We cannot generalize how people manage and/or recover from their mental health issues. No way is better or worse (although research does tell us something about that) and it is not always representative of “severity”. I know that has always bothered me, being discredited because I’m not on psych drugs or haven’t been hospitalized. Everyone has a different path, with different factors.

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