DBT, Inspiration, mental health

Four Options with Any Problem

I am struck by the quickness with which we feel we do not have a choice.  I hear myself (and others) saying things like “I didn’t have a choice…” or “I guess I have to…” on a regular basis and yet I am also equally struck by the concept that we do have a choice! In any given moment and with every given situation, you always have a multitude of choices!

I DBT we teach that a person always has four choices in coping with a problem:

  • Solve the problem

This is quite possibly the worst one on this list because if it were so simple, I think we all WOULD solve our own problems!  What is valid about this option is that we must take time to assess what the actual problem is and determine whether it is in our control or not.  If we are determining that the problem is: my spouse folds the towels wrong then I would challenge you and say that you need to dig deeper and look at what role you play in the scenario.  We might discover that the real problem is: I am clinging to my preference as to how the towels are folded and judging my spouse as incompetent.  In the second version of the problem, we now can apply the strategies below to solve the problem in a more creative way.

  • Change your opinion/thoughts/beliefs about the problem (one of my favorite…more below)

In continuing with the same problem above, we could work to change how we are thinking about the towels.  We could have a more comical thought: The way the towels are folded does not change their absorbency. You could have an attitude of gratitude: I am so grateful that my spouse took time to fold the towels.  You could have a change in your thought process: I never thought to fold them like that, I’ll give their way a try and see if I like it better.

  • Accept the situation (ie: stop lamenting how bad it is and accept that it just IS, letting go of your anger and resentment about the situation)

This option allows you to not get so angry every time you see the towels folded differently than you prefer.  It allows you to look at the towel and recognize that it is a towel, not a symbol of spousal defiance.  It allows you to see your partner as a partner, not a nuisance.  I also love this option due to the freedom it brings.  There is a freedom in not getting so angry about the “little things” or about the things in life that are out of your control.

  • Stay miserable (and/or make it worse).

This is the option we all tend to jump to! We belittle people we love, we yell and scream over things that really don’t alter our life’s course.  We throw things, we hurl insults, we give the silent treatment, we make passive aggressive gestures and comments that only serve to fuel the fire.  This option does not take into account the long-term goals (staying married) and only pays attention to the short-term urge.

 

Which do you jump to?

Which do you think would be the most effective one for you to start using more?

Take time this week to press pause when you feel yourself preparing to engage in a problematic reaction to a (perceived) problem and take a moment to ponder these 4 choices.  You may be able to free yourself from potential negative consequences!

doors

Inspiration

Real Life Moments

As I walk through my house turning off the lights…heading toward bed, there are things that catch my eye…things that fill my heart with joy, love, peace…

I cannot imagine my home without these things, although some are new; some are fleeting…yet all make a home.

I want to share with you the images that when I rest my eyes upon, fill me with such positive emotions, such positive thoughts!

First we have the artwork on the fridge. No…I am not the mom that keeps all art; rather I prefer to truly savor each peace. If I find myself walking past without notice, it is time for a fresh picture!

I could stare at this for eternity. A tree covered in the love of hand painted and hand crafted ornaments, stockings hung in anticipation: a reminder of the magic of Christmas, and my “happy painting” that is a staple of our main room. No matter how messy life can become…a reminder to live it fully!

This little piggy stayed home. This little piggy has been in my life for as long as I can recall. I remember emptying his contents as I prepared to head off to college, emptying it’s contents in a panic when trying to “adult” (unsuccessfully at times!) and now I look at this piggy with prolongued grief as I am aware of the cracks that will oneday (soon) expand and shatter my trusty sidekick…likely the result of me using it as a step stool and a chair one too many times in childhood!

Guidance. As is necessary in all endeavors. Knowing that the answers are there, waiting, anytime I care to ask the questions.

A reminder that our mindset matters…and that just as we can strengthen our muscles…we can strengthen our minds to seek the good in life.
Post a photo or two below. Share with us…where are your peaceful places?

Journaling

Gratitude

It seems that some people love to sit in misery.  I say that with sarcasm…however that may be what you are doing when you journal.  Writing in your diary about all of the terrible things that happened during the day is a risky move.  Rehashing your day in print can go one of two ways: it can assist in your mental processing and help you reach a conclusion OR it can bring up and intensify the negative feelings. Only you know the effect writing has on your emotional state.  My advice to you is to be aware. Don’t get me wrong, journaling can be a fantastic coping tool.  If you need distance from a situation, need to rehearse what you want to say or want to keep a record of your growth, I’d say writing is a great option.  I’d worry if the nightly writing becomes a depressive trigger. 

An alternative to traditional journaling is to keep a gratitude journal instead.  A gratitude journal is where you keep a log of things you are thankful for each day.  As you may imagine, this task is easier some days than others.  When I keep a gratitude journal, I do it in list format.  Each day I only write the date and three things I’m grateful for in list form.  This creates a great record and tool I can look back on for inspiration.  In fact, just now I looked back through mine and felt a rush of satisfaction, happiness, love, and pride.

This post has reminded me how much the gratitude journal means to me and I’ve fallen away from the practice recently…So today I’m grateful for:

  1. Not procrastinating
  2. Having time to re-read my past gratitude lists
  3. New pillows