Wednesday, 18 June 2014

A Visual Tool for DBT Opposite Action

When I am overwhelmed by negative emotions and can't find a way to anchor my thinking, I use some tools that have been designed to help children. And why not? Since when do we think that only children respond to colour, visual stimulus and fun when learning? I have never been a traditional learner - I was a nightmare at school because I couldn't focus well when required to just sit still and 'learn' I need my learning to be vivid, active and engaging.

As a person with BPD my whole life has been full of drama and interest, and it's not always meant negative things. I am an interesting person to know and talk to. I do need tools that help me to manage the extremes of my emotions. This simple tool helps me to find a way through the fog of negativity about my life to be able to use 'opposite action' and 'opposite emotion' DBT Skills.

Some aspects of my life may not be as colourful or full as others and this helps me to see that. Equally it helps me to see those aspects of my day to day life which can help me feel better. No matter how much it feels like it - no life is either all good or all bad. I found a picture on Pinterest which says: 'Don't let a bad day make you believe you have a bad life.' It is a little trite, but there is a grain of truth in it, especially if I am trying to make sense of the whole of my life - no matter how bad some days are at the moment I know I have survived worse. I like having the completed image this tool creates it's a reminder that the bright moments, shine brighter because of the darker moments. If I can focus on these moments one by one as they happen, I can learn to enjoy them for what they are in the here and now.

The tool also helps me to define the things that are important to me. This is essential for those times when I feel 'all at sea' emotionally and need a reminder of my core values - what matters to me and therefore, what gives me meaning in living.

The other thing this tool gives me is a focus for mindfulness and I can enjoy colouring 'in the moment' once I've written in the names of the people and things that are good in my life. When I come back to it after some time I find that some of these remain constant, but others can change and I may have changed too, so that maybe I can see more of the good about my life. It's great to keep them as a record of good things when I have those 'I hate my life' days or weeks!