Are you living crisis to crisis? Are there particular people, places, times, areas, thoughts that continually trip you up and cause problems? DBT® reminds us first that we ALWAYS have a choice. You always have four basic choices in every situation.
- Solve the problem – this is the “no brainer” that we do if we can. It is a choice and merits remembering.
- Feel better about the problem – you do have a choice in what interpretation you use which will change how you feel about the problem. The risk here is if you keep trying to convince yourself that “it’s not that bad” when in reality it (or he, or she, or they) ARE that bad and you need to problem solve in a different way. This is a GREAT option if you are a pessimist and tend to see the worst in everything.
- Tolerate the problem – when we tolerate a problem we aren’t changing much in terms of how we see or relate to it (which actually changes our emotional attachment to the problem), rather we are accepting it as a thorn in our side and using distraction whenever it starts to bother us again. This is helpful short term but not always helpful long term.
- Stay miserable/make it worse – I LOVE that we have this choice. The angsty teenager in me needs to be reminded that I can always say the thing or do the thing or throw the thing or refuse to show up, etc. I need to mentally walk down that path sometimes in order to get unstuck from my “it’s not fair” temper tantrum that I sometimes throw. An example of this could be when you find yourself resenting an obligation to show up somewhere (ie: work). Remind yourself that you do not have to go. You could stay home. You might get fired and then you wouldn’t have income, but you really do have that choice. Walking down that path can remind us that we don’t want to loose our housing, we do want to have money for food and fun…therefore we will now use strategy #2 and choose to go, but with a different mindset. You might adopt the mental mantra of “I’m choosing to go to work so that I can choose to buy the shoes I want” …which is different and less problematic than “I have to go to work, I hate my job, this sucks”.