“Few of us ever live in the present. We are forever anticipating what is to come or remembering what has gone.”Louis L’ Amour
Hi and welcome to our weekly update. I hope your week has been going well so far. In this update, I am going to be talking about a few very useful and practical DBT skills we learn and use here, and that everyone uses, even outside of Ironwood. For those of you who don’t know the term DBT, it stands for dialectical behavior therapy. These two terms tend to go hand in hand. I’ll be talking about staying in the moment and practicing radical acceptance.
I’m sure each and every one of you has used these skills before. For some people, applying these skills can be very challenging and frustrating at first. At the beginning of my Ironwood journey, these were the two hardest things for me to understand; why I even needed these skills? I also believed that they didn’t work. This is normal to feel that way at first, especially if your child is at the beginning of his or her journey. It’s not something that happens overnight, and you are always going to have your struggles and challenges. Staying in the moment means taking things one day at a time, not bringing yesterday into today. This means focusing on the task at hand. It’s really hard to not bring up the past. And when we do, we tend to dwell on the negatives, which can lead us into a downward spiral, and bring ourselves down. Staying in the moment causes us to be more aware, and allows us to be meaningful and purposeful throughout our day. This also relates to radical acceptance, which means accepting things that you can’t change, and helps us to stay rational with our decisions over something that is out of our control, or was in the past. What’s the point of getting angry at something we can’t change? It’s like stubbing your toe so you kick the couch. What good does that do? You have to ask yourself those questions in the moment.
These are such important life skills to have. If everyone in the world always lived in the past and dwelled on the negatives, the world would be a mess, and nothing would get done to high standards. Something that helps me to stay in the moment is finding something I’m looking forwards to when my thoughts get negative or bring up the past. At the beginning of my journey, I would use sleep as a motivator. I would tell myself, “just get through the day, and I can sleep again. This will give my mind a break from the hard day.” Some things that help me with radical acceptance is reminding myself, if it’s in the past, nothing can change, only the present and future can. I am the only one who dictates that and has full control over myself and my actions.
You have to give an honest effort, keep trying to use these skills, and they’ll work if you are willing. I’m not saying to never think about the past, but when you find yourself starting to heat up over something that happened in the past, try to distract yourself by doing an activity to get your mind thinking about something else and focus on the task at hand.
*A big thank you to this week’s author who will be leaving for his home visit very soon. It wasn’t very long ago that I remember his first days at Ironwood and now, here is heading home with a greater understanding of the life skills that will set him up for future success with a healthy understanding of how to “roll with the punches” of life. Well done!
It was great to see many of our parents this past weekend and we hope that you all have a great weekend.