Welcome to our blog! This is the second post in a three part series on difficult emotion by Jessica Foreman, PLMFT.
Yesterday we discussed the three states of mind. Emotion mind can be ineffective when we are tempted to act on urges that are inconsistent with our values and goals. When I am hungry, tired, sick, or have not taken taken care of myself, I am more likely to be vulnerable to emotion mind. One way that I help myself come out of it is to check the facts. In DBT, checking the facts is a practice of examining our emotional response to an event using reason and logic.
I name the emotion, what caused it, and process my interpretation of the event. Then I usually ask myself if my emotion is valid. Anger makes sense when attacked, integrity is invalidated, or when blocked in reaching a goal. Fear makes sense when there is a threat to well being. Sadness makes sense when hope is dashed or something or someone is lost permanently. The process seems simple, but it is incredibly empowering to validate feelings.
Lets explore this practice further using Dwight from the Office as an example. Dwight is in emotion mind because Jim put his stapler in Jello again. He is ruled by anger and has urges to physically attack Jim and contact HR at the corporate office.
embarrassed, laughed at, angry
|Anger is valid:
Dwight’s social status
|Feelings: Still angry,
like I can think
I shouldn’t let him get away with this!
Angela will think less
of me if I don’t do
People are more likely
to listen if I appear
I can get another
stapler from the
I deserve respect.
I do no like the way I
feel when pranked.
I want this behavior to stop.
I can ask Jim to stop
doing things like this.
humiliate/ punish Jim
Notice how the thoughts in the reason column have changed from should statements and judgement. The urges have also disappeared as Dwight begins to feel empowered to help himself.
By giving his feelings a voice and then writing out the facts, Dwight moved up from the threat center of his brain, to higher brain function where he can act in ways that are consistent with his values. Dwight is much more likely to get an end to Jim’s pranks than if he had allowed himself to act impulsively.
Tomorrow we will explore making a request and saying no.
See the first post in the series here Change Your Mind: Difficult Emotions Part 1. Subscribe now and come back tomorrow for more information on this topic!
For more information about DBT: https://linehaninstitute.org/.