Sometimes we are faced with an issue or a situation that has us stuck in terms of a response. We may have an immediate emotional reaction to what has happened, but we want to handle it in such as way as to reinforce the position of “I am important and so are you.”
A co-worker keeps undermining you, a friend perpetually cancels on your planned dates, your partner said something to you that angered you or hurt your feelings. There is a part of you that wants to “keep the peace, let it go, don’t ripple the waters,” but another part of you feels that not addressing it will essentially give that person permission to keep doing it.
In DBT therapy, there are many skills that highlight how we can process situations that come our way. One of which is to ask ourselves three questions:
- What is my objective in this situation? What would I like the result to be? How would things change in order for me to feel that I have been listened to or validated?
- How important is this relationship to me? Is it important for me to keep this relationship in tact? How do I want to respond that is going to not only express how I feel, but will also respect the other person?
- Am I considering my own self-respect? If I say nothing, am I respecting my own needs and wants? And if I do say something, are the words that I use and the tone of my voice indicative of my own values?
Sometimes taking these extra steps (write them out if that helps), can slow us down enough to handle the situation in a way that is mature, measured and matter-of-fact. We may not always get the exact outcome we were hoping for, but we can be proud of ourselves for having established our concern and voiced our feelings.
Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) was developed by Marsha Linehan.
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