In psychotherapy, we often speak of self-love and acceptance as modalities to move on from our past and parts of ourselves we are unhappy with. For instance, a therapist may suggest that someone who is now clean and sober accept this aspect of who they are and the choices they made when they were drinking.
However, people who are motivate to change likely aren’t satisfied with themselves in some regard, and are looking to make a positive change. So, working towards self acceptance while trying to initiate change is very difficult.
So how do we do it?!
Originally developed by Marsha Linehan out of the University of Washington, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) has proven to be an effective modality in achieving self-acceptance and simultaneously creating positive change. In a nutshell, DBT incorporates Buddhist mindfulness techniques in conjunction with cognitive behavioral therapy to promote acceptance and generate change.
DBT was initially developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder. However, research also supports positive outcomes for using DBT with people diagnosed with mood disorders (anxiety/depression/bipolar), trauma survivors, substance use disorders, and those engaging in self-injurious behaviors.
DBT uses 4 modules to facilitate this process:
1. Mindfulness: observing yourself and your environment non-judgmentally (acceptance).
2. Distress Tolerance: recognizing and accepting negative situations instead of avoiding or becoming overwhelmed by them (acceptance).
3. Emotional Regulation: Identify obstacles to changing emotions, and use mindfulness to learn about emotions (change).
4. Interpersonal Effectiveness: learning assertiveness and interpersonal problem solving that preserves relationships (change).
So what techniques can you take away from this and practice today?
-Ground yourself; use deep breathing and meditation to stay present.
-Self soothe when stress; using music or other activities you enjoy.
-Improve communication; use “I Feel” statements to better share your emotions.
What works for you? What’s your go-to coping skill? How do you share your feelings with others? Comment below!