The Lighter Side of Transformation

with Lisa Wessan, LICSW

Moving beyond binary thinking: what are dialectical and non-dualistical truths?

“Even when all the experts agree, they may well be mistaken.”  ~ Bertrand Russell

“In preparing for battle, I have always found that plans are useless,
but planning is indispensable.” ~ Dwight Eisenhower

“The reverse of truth has a thousand shapes
and a boundless field.” ~ Michel de Montaigne

“Whoever is winning at the moment
will always seem to be invincible.” ~ George Orwell

“Family values don’t stop at the Rio Grande.”  ~ George W. Bush

“Sometimes you need to get knocked down before you can
really figure out what your fight is.” ~ Chadwick Boseman

What do all these quotes have in common?  They are blending opposing beliefs into a non-dualistic framework, which is, for most of us, is not easy to hold in our minds without some cognitive dissonance.

As those of you who follow me know, I teach Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills (DBT), which helps people live with massive emotional and cognitive dissonance and yet not have an emotional meltdown (or self harm from the pain).

For example, when you get into the DBT flow of consciousness, you realize that you can both love and hate someone.  You realize that on some level, you are amazing, perfect and rocking as is, yet you can improve.   You realize that you are sometimes brilliant, and sometimes really foolish, but still lovable, no matter what. You embrace the FACT that you inevitably will make mistakes, but you are NOT a mistake.  You are still awesome, lovable and worthy, no matter what cocka-locka-cuckoo stunt you got into, either consciously or unconsciously.

So dialectical thinking helps us get out of the black and white mental trap, the “All or Nothing,” Right or Wrong, Worthy or Unworthy, Perfect or Imperfect name game.  Practicing dialectical skills helps relieve so much of our nasty inner dialogue.  Over time, DBT gently muzzles the harsh inner Critic and lets us move forward with plans to grow, learn, change and improve ourselves, our relationships and our lives.

Borderline1

DBT makes it so much easier to “Disable the Label” of our diagnosis, gender challenge, financial issue, body image or weight issue and more.  As I’ve often said before, I believe DBT skills will someday soon be taught to everyone by the 3rd grade level.

It is essential that we all move out of this painful and extremely unproductive dualistic perfectionist damnation of ourselves and others!  Enough is enough, right? The exquisite radical acceptance that comes from dialectical thinking starts within, and then permeates into our relationships, politics and the world at large.

Yes, it is possible to temporarily hate ourselves for a few minutes for being a bit unconscious or even whacko in the moment, and then with the help of improved self-talk, gently shift back to a more bearable level of acceptance, possibly reach a more comfortable forgiveness level and then back to a more loving baseline. With training, this could be reduced from days/weeks of self hate to a few minutes…that’s a big win in my practice!

This DBT process uses evidence-based skills culled from the vast Mindfulness research, Interpersonal Effectiveness, Distress Tolerance and Emotion Regulation fields.  These skills help people move from being in the extreme of “Emotion Mind” or “Rational Mind” into their “Wise Mind” and function better on every level.

Ven diagram 1 Wise Mind

Here are some of the common myths that we deconstruct in our DBT groups:

“Dialectics reminds us of the many paradoxes that are built into our Universe:

  1. The universe is filled with opposing sides/opposing forces. There is always more than one way to see a situation, and more than one way to solve a problem. Yet two things that seem like opposites can both be true.
  1. Everything and every person is connected in some way, in the way that the waves and the ocean are one. It is also believed that the slightest move of the butterfly affects the furthest star.
  2. Change is the only constant. Meaning and truth evolve over time. Each moment is new; reality itself changes with each moment.
  1. Change is transactional. What we do influences our environment and other people in it. The environment and other people influence us.” (Linehan, 2015)

For today,  I challenge you to start letting go of your dualistic mind traps, and gently start to shift into a more compassionate, empathetic and dialectical mind set that will allow yourself and others to be good enough around you, as is, while you are all improving.  Here’s the emotional math: less judging, more inner peace.  Simple, but not easy!

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

Reference:
Linehan, M. (2015). DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets. Second edition. New York: Guildford Press. Page 150.

 

Copyright © by Lisa Wessan 2019. All rights reserved.
www.LisaWessan.com

 

 

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Westford, MA: New DBT Skills Groups (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) start 10/26/17 and 12/14/17

dbt-skills

Good news! For those of you who have been waiting to get into one of our DBT Groups, there are several openings in our daytime DBT Skills Group starting October 26, 2017,  Thursdays from 3:15 – 4:45 PM at my office in the beautiful Westford Center for Counseling and Holistic Therapies, 234 Littleton Road, Suite 1D, Westford, MA.

This group is co-ed/non-binary, mature teens, trans and adults welcome, and is limited to 10 participants per group. One initial consultation  with me is required prior to joining the group, plus the completion of some DBT Skills registration forms. To get started, click HERE or call me at 978.710.8039.

For this next trimester, we will be studying Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance from the DBT Skills curriculum.

Why do I teach DBT Skills?

Over the years, I have seen outstanding evidence of how DBT helps to rewire our brains with gentle cognitive restructuring exercises, reduce inflammatory thoughts and untangle our irrational beliefs and interpretations — which cause so much pain and suffering — all in a relatively short time span.  DBT is Solution Focused Therapy at its best!

DBT includes powerful and easy relaxation techniques for anxiety; a large array of tools for depression and mood issues; and effective communication and boundary setting skills which make this a brilliant vehicle for interpersonal effectiveness, peak performance and personal growth.

Four leaf DBT

ANNUAL OVERVIEW

[This is a one year program divided into three 14-week trimesters. Students decide to renew their commitment towards the end of each trimester.]

Each trimester delves into Mindfulness plus one of the remaining three main modules of DBT, which are Distress Tolerance, Emotional Regulation and Interpersonal Effectiveness (see diagram above). We repeat the Mindfulness module at the beginning of each semester to reinforce the powerful foundational skills it offers for general anxiety (Kabat-Zinn et al, 1992).

 

2017 – 2018 GENERAL CALENDAR

 [Dates are subject to change, due to snow days and other factors.]

UP NEXT: Daytime Group: October 26, 2017 – January 25, 2018. Mindfulness and Distress Tolerance.  Practical tools and skills are explored to process “crisis” emotions, impulse issues and more difficult feelings. We also cover Radical Acceptance, Turning Willfulness to Willingness, and moving from destructive self-harm to positive self-care (especially useful for the “Holiday Red Zone,” Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Eve!)

Evening Group: December 14, 2017 – March 29, 2018.  Mindfulness and Interpersonal Effectiveness. Through discussions, readings and interactive exercises you will be learning to set healthy boundaries, learning to say “YES” when you mean yes and “NO” when you mean no without worrying about getting others’ approval.  You will  learn how to become bulletproof to others invalidation of you, and learn to be a self-validating person.  The art of asking for what you want and negotiating well  is also explored. In addition, we study various forms of interpersonal protection, e.g. emotional safety skills, learning to identify  Energy Vampires (Orloff, 2004) and recover well from their hurtful and draining interactions.

Daytime and Evening Groups: April – July 2018.  Mindfulness and Emotion Regulation. Learning to identify your vast array of feelings, articulate them and express emotions appropriately is part of this powerful work. Also, learning to check the facts, edit misinterpretations and assumptions, and turn down the volume on your intense emotions yet still experience them. You will learn to regulate your emotions successfully, so that you have a more positive experience of feeling better and stronger.

TUITION

Each trimester is $700 for 14 weeks (watch for the Early Bird rate which usually expires two weeks before each trimester).

** It is a requirement of this group that participants are working with an individual therapist while they attend the group. The therapist does not need to be me, nor does the therapist need to be trained in DBT, but will be available for all processing outside the group. (Release forms will be sent to you and/or your therapist after the Initial Consultation with me).

I hope I can be of service to you, your clients or loved ones who would benefit from this group in the greater north Boston/Nashoba Valley area.

Learn more about the details of this DBT Skills Group by visiting my web site, www.lisawessan.com.  Also, please feel free to contact me for further information.

Onward and Upward,

Lisa Wessan

 

DBT Mindfulness

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References

Kabat-Zinn, J., Massion, A. O., Kristeller, J., Peterson, L. G., Fletcher, K. E., Pbert, L., et al. (1992). Effectiveness of a meditation-based stress reduction program in the treatment of anxiety disorders. American Journal of Psychiatry, 149, 936–943.

Orloff, Judith, MD. (2004). Positive Energy.   New York: Random House.  Chapter 9, The Ninth Prescription:  Protect Yourself from Energy Vampires.  288 – 318.

Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Wessan. All rights reserved.

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