DBT Skills: Why Am I Unskillful?

Thought Provoking Quotes to Get You Motivated (22):

Yes…

Last night I was unskillful when B said something I didn’t like. I yelled, swore, made judgments and ended up crying and feeling guilty. Today, with a clear mind, I can reflect on why I didn’t use my skills (this was a DEAR MAN situation for sure).

I have been tracking emotional events over the past few months and making note about what happened, what I felt and how I reacted. I realized this morning that one thing I didn’t take into account was the predictability of each emotional event. If an emotional event happens often, such as the anxiety I feel when B is not home, I can use skills because I know it is going to happen. But, if an emotional event is new then it takes me by surprise, therefore making me feel confused and vulnerable, such as B saying the opposite of what I thought he would say. Unpredictable is scary because, well, I don’t know what is going to happen. My fight kicks in as my first response so I can make sure I stay “safe” in this new moment I have found myself in.

I think I need to print this and hang it on my wall!

Now that I have identified this barrier to effective skill use I can incorporate the reminder that new things will happen and I can deal with themΒ into my daily thoughts.

Around this time last year, I was starting DBT with DBT Path. The change I and others have seen in myself is astounding. I never thought I would get to the point in my life where things could hurt less and that I could create a life worth living and being my true self.

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6 thoughts on “DBT Skills: Why Am I Unskillful?

  1. I find that if I am expecting a difficult situation to come up and I can “psych myself up” for it, I can cope much better. But if something takes me by surprise and I don’t have a chance to prepare for it, I cope much worse. But sometimes life happens and we have to deal with things unprepared. I still have trouble coping. All we can do sometimes is cope the best we can with the skills we have. Even with doing DBT several years ago, I am definitely not always skillful. Far from it. But I’m a lot better than I used to be. Sometimes that’s all we can ask for.

    I can definitely relate to this post!

    • I’m glad you can relate and thank you for sharing your experience with me! I will never expect myself to be 100% skillful because no one is perfect. I would also never want to lose that impulsive side of myself because I do kind of like it, I just don’t want it to show up all the time πŸ˜› I think just getting it into my head that I can’t always be prepared (like you mentioned) is what will help me be prepared.

  2. I don’t have BPD (at least that I’ve been diagnosed with) and while I don’t always comment, I do read your posts about your DBT skills because I find they’re still very applicable in dealing with some of my own anxieties and impulse control issues, and that is a question I’ve always had: When something happens in the moment, how does one remember to apply these skills to the situation?

    Often when I’m upset by something, I react in the moment and prefer to hash things out right then. I feel like I would probably get more bothered by pulling out of the moment to sit and contemplate these things, and then have to bring them up again later once the issue has passed (sort of like reopening a wound).

    I’m curious if you ever get frustrated having to pause something and then go back to it later, when you’d rather just move on?

    • DBT has proven to be very successful with depression, bipolar, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance use. I believe these skills should be taught to children from a young age. I am glad you can see how these skills can apply to your life πŸ™‚ In general, it is about addressing emotional sensitivity which I think many people with mental health issues experience.

      To answer your question, I DO NOT sit well with leaving something that is bothering me. Probably 99% of the time I force people to work through it in the exact moment which can prolong the issue and/or lead to a less effective solution. I don’t just feel emotionally frustrated but I physically feel the anxiety in my body and it’s that physical feeling that makes me want to solve the problem right now because I am so uncomfortable. Although, I have seen what happens when I sit with it, ride out the discomfort and bring it up later when all involved parties (mostly myself, because that is who I can control) are calm and have had time to think and plan. Conversations have been more productive, I come away feeling better and I have maintained my self-respect.

      Thanks for your comment Aidan!

  3. You’re not unskillful, you were just in a position that caught you by surprise. Your post suggests that you know that. It can be nerve racking as to when the next surprise of anything can be. You know your triggers and coping skill and I have things that get to me. After I am caught by surprise I try to learn from it and hopefully become better for it, regardless of the situation. I hope you are feeling better.

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