I refuse to try skills

I refuse to try skills

I said I didn’t want to try any stupid skills — I just wanted to die.

Michael said, “Fair enough, that’s where you are right now. So, the problem you’re trying to solve is feeling so bad about the fight with Cheryl, on top of everything else wrong with your life right now. You’re thinking that being dead will stop you from feeling so bad, and maybe that’s true, although we certainly can’t know for sure, as we’ve discussed other times. Nobody knows what happens after death, though most people believe we continue on in some way, and a lot of the time you believe that too. With the way things have been going for you lately, it would be just your luck that there is an afterlife and you’ve screwed up worse.

“But one thing we can find out for sure is whether there are other ways to stop feeling so bad. Would it be alright with you if there are ways I can teach you to get out of such a shitty emotional place?”

I had to think about that for a minute. When I get in certain moods, I really don’t want to feel any better, though I wish I did, too. I told Michael I wasn’t sure.

He said, “Sure, that makes sense. We all get into emotional spots where we’re just not ready to let go of where we are. It’s kind of like a tantrum that needs to run it’s course for awhile – I definitely get into places like that with my wife sometimes, where I know I could make it better by apologizing, or changing my attitude, but I’m just not ready yet. DBT calls this “willfulness”, as opposed to “willingness”. Do you remember seeing that in the Distress Tolerance packet?”

I told him that willfulness sounded vaguely familiar, and felt pretty familiar, too.

He said, “Well of course it does. If you’ve been told all your life that you shouldn’t feel things so intensely, that you should just snap out of it, then you’re going to be a little defensive about changing how you feel.  Anybody would.

“But willfulness can certainly get in your way. It’s gotten in mine. So let me ask again, now we’re seeing that very human tendency to dig in, whether it could be okay to have ways to calm yourself down, not because somebody else wants you to, but because the wisest part of you, your “Wise Mind” as we say in the DBT trade, wants to be calmer, maybe even peaceful. What do you think?”

By now I was actually feeling a little calmer, as usually happens when I talk to Michael. It helps that he seems really calm, pretty much no matter what is going on with me. And he doesn’t blame or judge me like my family does. Anyway, I said that yeah, I’d like to be able to be more in control of how I feel, especially if it’s for me, and not for somebody else.

Michael said, “Okay, then what we want to do here is help you focus your attention on something else besides your problems for a little while, so your body can calm down.  Once you get into a more peaceful place, it’s easier to see what to do that will help things get better. So we could focus on almost anything else besides what you think, but I have a few favorites, like “counting colors” and “sound symphony”. Would you be willing to give them a try?”

IT’S YOUR CHOICE – What will I do?

Agree to try some skills on the phone

Hang up and take the pills

One Response to “I refuse to try skills”