I am currently doing Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) with my psychologist. DBT was created by Marsha Linehan and has proven to be a great success in the treatment of Borderline Personality Disorder. One of the elements of DBT is creating a balance between Emotional Mind and Logical Mind to create Wise Mind.
The emotional mind is a lot quicker to respond to situations we face everyday. It is often responsible for our fight or flight mode. The logical mind however only deals with facts. It doesn’t see a grey area, and there is no emotion involved at all. The balance, or the ideal of these two is called the wise mind. It is believed that people who have BPD use the two extremes of these ways of thinking and struggle to live in the grey area.
For me, I struggle the most with emotional mind. Emotions are not inherently bad, however when they begin to make you feel out of control that things begin to pose a problem. I often find myself acting first, thinking second. I feel the physical effects of emotions very strongly. These overwhelming emotions are behind a lot of my self harm urges. My initial response is to hide away, but of course that simply gives me more time to ruminate, further compounding the issue. Something has to give.
What I am working on currently is acceptance of emotions and realities. At first I was hesitant, why should I just accept things as they are, shouldn’t things change. Then I realised that those ugly should statements had come to the forefront again. Emotions are going to happen, things that I am not happy with are going to happen. I can either sit and throw an epic tantrum about the unfairness of it all, or I can accept that, that is what needs to happen at this point in time.
Acceptance doesn’t mean that I become a door mat that allows bad things to happen. It simply means that there are things that I can’t change, there are things that no matter how angry I get, it’s just how it is at the moment. I can take a step back, let the situation flow, work out what I CAN change, then come at it from a completely different angle. That is using the wise mind. A mind that uses both logic and emotion to drive it.
I tell myself that it won’t be like this forever, that I am slowly building up my arsenal of mental health tools. I find myself using tricks without even thinking about it, and noticing the difference in my reaction. I feel different because I am different. I am still not where I want to, need to be but I am making steps to finding that balance. There will still be moments when I lash out in anger without a second thought to the consequences. I am after all human, I’m not infallible and allowing myself to fail just makes getting up afterwards that much easier. Life is a series of baby steps and every one of them is a step in the right direction.
Do you struggle with letting your emotions rule your response? Are you still on the search for the ever allusive life balance?
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