My DEAR MAN was great, the response was not: Accepting that I cannot control others

Please check out my recent blog post in Dialectical Living about my first time using DEAR MAN. It did not go over well but I still came away with a very valuable lesson about not being able to control others.

I have found it frustrating over the years that I have learned so much about how to become a more improved version of myself and yet these skills do not always translate well to others due to their inexperience with them. It has always fascinated me that I have learned self-reflection, mindfulness, distress tolerance, emotion regulation and interpersonal skills because I was deemed to have a deficit and yet I am surrounded by people daily who demonstrate the same deficit, they just are just not labeled as “mentally ill”.

Have there been moments when you have practiced a skill with someone and it didn’t work out? What about moments of when the skill does work? 


14 thoughts on “My DEAR MAN was great, the response was not: Accepting that I cannot control others

  1. I can relate. They DO demonstrate some of the same behaviors that I’m told to get control over, yet they are not labeled or need help. Personally, I’ve been told, because I practice DBT and self care, that I am fragile and selfish. I think that’s far from the truth. I’ve had to distance myself from those people. ( You know, stones and glass houses. )

    • Yes, those sound like the type of people you do not need around. The amount of effort that actually goes into practicing DBT would show me that you are far from fragile! Learning this skills goes against what your mind and body originally want to do. To resist and change that takes a great amount of strength! There is nothing selfish about it either. I find people tend to think it’s selfish because it means they are possibly not getting something from you that they were getting before.

      Thank you for your comment.

  2. Yes, with a narcissistic ex. As we become healthier I believe we do gain in deep emotional insight and see that others have all their own issues too. I think deep inside we sometimes carry an unconscious feeling that we are the worst in the world but a so called mental illness is really a sign of trauma and when we choose to take responsibility we do grow in awareness and sometimes that awareness pisses others off.

  3. I just read the article, and it reminds me of some of the times that I’ve used DEAR MAN Sometimes I get what I want, others I don’t. It reminds me of a time I tried using interpersonal skills with one of my (adult) daughters after she did something in public that was an attempt to take advantage of me. The result: She blew up and disowned me as her father. Of course, that only lasted about a week. I told my therapist about it, and he said that when you try to set good boundaries with people who expect otherwise, their reaction is often very unpleasant -they didn’t get what they want, so they’re quite upset and don’t take it well.

    • Oh 100%! Setting boundaries can be very uncomfortable for everyone, especially if you have been the “door mat” for a long time. My ex did something similar. When I finally left him he raged out and blamed the psych drugs I was on and DBT for “changing” who I was. Reality is, I had gained skills to leave the relationship. Yes, I had changed, this is true, and I had changed in a way that allowed me to set boundaries and stand by them…which he hated 😛

      It’s good that your daughter was able to come back after that week. Are things alright with you two now? Is the boundary being respected?

  4. Like you, I opted to use my first DEAR MAN experience to discuss finances with my partner. I even made a financial spreadsheet budget to refer to during our discussion. I felt pretty confident about it only to discover my partner was defensive and totally overwhelmed by the topic. I thought I failed too.

    Had I chosen to use my first DEAR MAN to ask my partner to pick up his dirty socks more regularly I think it would have turned out better. Finances are a hot-button issue for most people I’ve come across but that didn’t occur to me at the time. I’m sure that’s why I hadn’t talked to him about the issues before, and felt a pressing need to do it as soon as I felt I had the skills to try.

    What I can say is that after a month or so my partner came back to me and said he was willing to make the changes I had suggested. It just took a little time for him to think about what I had said and to consider how reasonably I had said it. I would say that just because you get a bad reaction initially doesn’t mean going into the conversation in “wise mind” wont be something that prompts the person you’re talking to into reconsidering their initial reaction. And if not, like you said, you’ve practiced some radical acceptance.

    • Oddly enough I never thought about how the topic I chose might have played a role in the “failure” of the DEAR MAN. I completely see how finances vs dirty socks could make a huge difference. I’m really pondering this now!

      My partner also needs some time to process. It always bothers me that he needs that time but that’s how he works. The better my reaction to him the more likely he’ll think about what I’ve said.

      Thank you for your comment!

    • I’m glad! It’s always a tad disappointing when a skill doesn’t work out. So long as we keep at it we will become better and I think we’ll also see who is worth having in our life but how they respond to us as we build our skills.

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