Denial, DBT Skills, and the Onset of a Non-Typical Summer Vacation

dog happier

Without planning and without, really, even a second thought, I placed myself on summer vacation a few weeks ago.  I had been putting a lot of time and energy into DBT and using the skills, and I was getting frustrated with the other participants in my group.  It was (is) chock-full of people who don’t do their homework, who don’t complete their diary cards, and who are disruptive at any chance.

One of the women frequently gets angry and storms out, never to come back.  Why she is allowed to do that over and over and over, I do not know.  We DID all sign a contract that DID put some limitations on maladaptive behaviors (or therapy-avoiding behaviors, in this case).  While the storming out is, at best, quite disruptive and unsettling, it is mostly just annoying to me that this person walks out instead of using skills which she clearly should have something of a grasp on, one year into the program.  I mean, even a limited grasp, I would say.

But, don’tcha know, DBT is all about not being judgmental and meeting people where they are, and it is not I that am leading the group (although I have had enough DBT I could probably give a fairly good whack at it, and have already been told I have enough knowledge and experience to be a peer leader).  I decided that, while I have  mostly been focusing on distress tolerance and floating with emotion (rather than fighting), and doing urge surfing, I need now to focus on nonjudgemental stance.  That means focusing on not being judgmental of other people and, even trickier, not being judgmental of MYSELF.  Let’s just say it has not been an easy row to hoe.

My life outside of DBT has offered up plenty of opportunities for me to be harsh and critical and judgmental, as well as plenty of opportunities to leave me in complete hysterics for days on end.  I am happy to say that I have not succumed (much) to said hysterics, and am only indulging myself in small amounts of FTFO (otherwise known as “freaking the fuck out”).

I am allowing myself to ask LarBear and my dad for help, and I have been using interpersonal skills from DBT to get my needs met as far as setting boundaries and asking for what I want and need from pretty much any relationship I have at the moment.  It works, and if you don’t use it, you lose it, with the latter part of that being so very true, and the reason I always find myself back in formal DBT groups every few years.

Many a boulder of big news will roll down the proverbial hill in the next year or so, I would say.  Most of it is good, and the rest can best be classified as “unknown” for others, but neutral for me.  Because I have so many wonderful family members that read, I can’t go into too much detail at this very moment, but big changes are coming to my life, and so I find that I am using the start of my own “summer vacation” to just chill out a little bit.

You know, enjoy the good things in life and flat-out pretend that the bad are not happening.  Sometimes a little denial is all you need to get yourself through a day peacefully, and while it isn’t necessarily a coping skill that one should employ on an every-moment basis, it sure does make me more tolerable to be around and also keep me from hyperventilating about all of the stuff running around in my mind.

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11 thoughts on “Denial, DBT Skills, and the Onset of a Non-Typical Summer Vacation

  1. A group like that would give me a massive migraine, but I’m terrible in groups. I don’t like them and have a lot of trouble being patient with other’s people issues. Probably why I always worked in solitary kind of jobs. I don’t play well with just anyone, but I NEVER run with scissors. It was great talk to you the other day 🙂

    You deserve a vacation. Maybe you can find something you really want to do and will enjoy … and do it! Have fun. Summer is too short.

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  2. Great idea: chill out and take a summer break. It’s challenging to not be judgmental when a group member (who has been in the group long enough to know she should use her tools) behaves so badly.
    I also want to tell you that I really appreciated this post, and many others. You are so bravely candid about your own decisions and feelings — and when you make a decision to end a crazy situation, or find a different solution to a problem, I find myself nodding my head and cheering you on.

    Brava, Rose.

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  3. I understand not being judgmental is part of DBT, but I just don’t think that’s realistic. I judge every person that walks in the door. I believe that’s human nature. The skill, to me, is not to act on my judgement. Yes, that woman is distracting, Yes, she disrupts the group. Yes, she rightfully can get on the nerves, and yes, she needs to chill and work on getting well. I would definitely judge her. The key, to me, is not to share with her my judgement. Or, if it becomes necessary, bring it up in a delicate, loving way. I think too many people get stressed because they are unable not to judge and this makes them feel defeated.

    Happy to see you posting again, Rosa.

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  4. Rosie girl! =) =) While I am glad you were part of a group that should be helping, I think you did the right thing in stepping back. Too often we allow others to “express” themselves, to the detriment of our own physical and mental comfort. Taking a break while utilizing the skills you have gathered in DBT sounds like a smart move! You have Lar and your dad at hand, and us all here in the void. =)

    And at the risk of sounding even more out of the loop and idiotic, what is “urge surfing?” It sounds oddly peaceful and relaxing, although I could be wrong… it’s been known to happen. =) =)

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    • Urge surfing or emotion surfing is allowing yourself to experience emotions and urges (usually harmful ones, like drinking too much or slutting around or etc), and then to let them pass by until you are naturally in a different state. It is hard, but worth the benefits with practice.

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  5. I’ve always found it much more difficult to not judge myself than to not judge others, so you have company in that. We’ll get there when the time is right. Until then, everything is perfect just as it is. 😉

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