What do I do when things get rough? I use my ABCs.

Sometimes when life gets crazy or overwhelming or downright unmanageable, I use a handy little skill I learned from Emily at www.guidancegirl.com. It’s part of a whole set of DBT skills – if you’ve never heard of DBT, it’s a type of therapy used mainly for treating those with borderline personality disorder, but what they found though, was that if this type of therapy worked in treating BPD (one of the most difficult disorders to treat) then it could work for ANYBODY. The skills taught in DBT therapy are super useful for regular Joes (or Jills) everywhere.

The skill I’ve been using most recently is the ABC skill. ABC stands for:

Accumulate positive experiences/emotions

Build Mastery

Cope Ahead

abc

What this looks like in real life for me is that sometimes I get a little overwhelmed and stressed out and start to feel down about things, so I’ll aim to be intentional about doing and keeping track of things that fit into the above categories. For instance, if I want to accumulate positive experiences/emotions, I’ll look at my schedule and see if I can fit in something fun into my day (or my lunch hour or my evening after work, etc) that will make me feel better – maybe it’s getting that really good salad at the store, or calling my best friend to talk for a few minutes, or stopping by the park after work for a quick walk. All of those things are positives for me and so doing them makes me feel better. I get intentional about making myself feel better.

Building mastery is doing something on a regular basis that makes me feel capable and better about myself, and that I enjoy. Trying a new recipe, working on my hand-lettering, cleaning that clutter pile that has been driving me crazy, or even just solving a minor problem are all examples of building mastery. Taking an exercise class or even a crafting class counts, as does updating your dream vacation board on Pinterest or planning what you’ll put in your garden next summer. It’s about making yourself feel competent, which in turn boosts your self esteem.

The third step is Coping Ahead – if I know a stressful situation is coming up (this could be good stress, like a vacation, or bad stress, like preparing for surgery) then I will stop and think about some things I can do that will make things easier for me or make me feel better about the situation. We just went on a short camping trip over Labor Day weekend and Emily reminded me to cope ahead by having some of my favorite healthy foods on hand for snacks. I also remembered to pack my ear plugs because I find that I sleep better in places that are not my bed if I have them in (also, sometimes my darling husband snores. Loudly). If this were a bad-stress situation, like having to spend time with relatives you don’t particularly care for (Thanksgiving will be here before you know it), you could make sure you have your favorite wine on hand to help you relax a little, you could make sure that you are in charge of playing games with the little kids, you could offer to make a run for ice when it gets low so that you don’t have to spend so much time with Overbearing Aunt Abigail…the point is to think about things you can do to improve the situation so that you can still be your best self.

What are some ways you make yourself feel better when things just don’t seem to be going well? What are some of your favorite ways to Build Mastery? What is your best Coping Ahead strategy? Tell me in the comments!

 

What’s on Jill’s Wish List?

I like to peruse Amazon and add stuff to my Wish List and then check it often to see if the price has gone up or down. What I have found is that typically the price will go down on Tuesday or Wednesday and climb back up by Friday. I say that like there’s a huge difference, but really it might just be a few cents up to a few dollars, depending on the item. I thought it might be fun to list some of my wish list items here in case you are looking for some ideas to add to your own wish list. Click on the pictures for prices, etc. and as always, Amazon links are affiliate links, yada yada yada. Whatever, just click on the picture for details.

I used to get this at Walgreen’s but apparently my WG has stopped carrying it. I was so happy to find it on Amazon AND it’s $4 cheaper on the ‘Zon than it was at WG. Yay!

 

Remember when I said I wanted more dresses like the one in my last post? Here is another that I want. I think it looks perfect for summer, I just wonder if it’s see through or not. Somebody buy it and wear it and let me know. Thanks!

 

I don’t know why I want this but I do. It’s a 2 pound weighted hula hoop. I envision myself watching the evening news while I hula hoop around the living room, which is weird because I don’t even watch the evening news anymore. But I would totally hula hoop around the living room while watching Wheel of Fortune. (Bonus, there’s a $4 off coupon for this too. Someday I’ll pull the trigger and buy this thing.)

 

Okay this one is boring but it’s something I really need because my old not-instant thermometer finally bit the dust recently.  And it’s half off the price from when I originally added it to my wish list. I’ll probably buy this soon because I don’t like to play Russian roulette with chicken.

 

This one I’m going to buy in the fall, when I tend to bring foods that need to be heated up to work with me. Just pop your glass (or ceramic or cardboard) container in, zip it up, plug it in, and in by lunchtime your food is hot and ready!

 

Because I don’t want to kill the sea turtles, but I still enjoy sipping my lemonade through a straw. I’m really into lemonade lately, not sure what’s up with that.

 

I LOVE this little clock! It’s been on my wish list since 2017 and I should just go ahead and buy it already. It would look perfect on my nightstand. I adore those 2 little birds sitting on top!

 

And finally, a little birthstone bling. At $200 this is the most expensive thing on my list, but I’m worth it, so it stays on the list. I think it’s just so pretty and my husband might need an idea for our anniversary that is coming up this summer. Husband, if you are reading this – I LIKE THIS RING A LOT.

 

These are only a few of the things on my “Treat Yo’Self” list (no really, that’s what I named my list) but the other stuff is hand-lettering stuff and some boring kitchen shelving stuff and other not-fun stuff (maybe I need a separate wish list for the not-fun stuff??). What kinds of things are on your wish lists? Do you have fun stuff or do you have boring stuff? Do you even have a wish list?? If not, start one – you need to treat yourself to something nice once in a while and it’s handy to already have some things picked out. 🙂

 

 

Therapy Thursday: Emotions

Therapy Thursdays are for sharing with you what I’m learning in my weekly sessions with Emily Roberts. Here is where I’ll share interesting info, tips and tricks on self-care, self-compassion, and how to be Rad. Let me know how you like Therapy Thursdays!

 

Today we’re going to talk about emotions – the state of mind that comes from one’s circumstances, mood, or relationship with others. Or if you’re like me, the thing that drives and overwhelms every aspect of your life. Up until a few weeks ago, I thought emotions were just something that we were born with and couldn’t necessarily change – kind of like eye color or height or fashion sense. I thought emotions were an accurate measurement of how I was doing…I thought emotions were TRUTH.

Yeah, not so much.

Turns out, instead of emotions being the end all be all, they’re actually a means to an end. Emotions are simply INFORMATION. A big neon sign telling you that either something is great (this thing is making me joyful, so I want more of this thing!) or something is wrong and needs to be changed (I’m feeling really scared right now – I need to get out of this dark alley ASAP).

The emotions that seems to have taken over my body in the last few years are Frustration and Overwhelm. Yes, with a capitol “F” and a capitol “O”. I’ve spent so many years feeling frustrated and overwhelmed that I sort of made them part of my personality (which made me super fun during holidays and parties). What I didn’t realize is that my body was trying to tell me something every time Frustration and Overwhelm showed up to play – that something needed to change.  Being the rather dense sort that I can sometimes be, I didn’t realize that I could indeed, change things, so I just gritted my teeth and seethed on the inside and tried to make the uncomfortable feelings go away. The funny thing about emotions is that they’re like that chick from Fatal Attraction:

giphy

via Giphy

If you don’t deal with them…they keep coming back. The more you try to stuff them down and away, the bigger they become until one day they come exploding out of you and you go Full Metal Jacket on the box of plastic cling wrap because it clings to nothing but itself. Or you flip your lid over the fact that your daughter tells you at 8:30 on Sunday evening that she needs supplies for a project that’s due…you guessed it…tomorrow. Or you gain 50 pounds because you try to eat those feelings away…which only leads to more frustration and overwhelm…*sigh*

So, yes. Dealing with the emotions. How do we do that?

The simple answer is this: there is no simple answer. I wish there were, but this isn’t a short story. Dealing with emotions is more like a Harry Potter novel. Don’t misunderstand me, it’s not all drudgery and hard work – learning about emotions has been fascinating to me and completely worth it. Here are some things that I’ve been doing that are helping me:

  • Name the emotion. When you are feeling frustrated, say “I’m feeling really frustrated right now!” or “Wow, I’m feeling so sad today” Acknowledge the emotion and call it by its name.
  • Check in with yourself periodically throughout the day. Ask “how am I feeling right now?” and notice how your physical body feels too. Then think about what prompted this feeling, and ask yourself what would make you feel better.
  • Ask yourself “what do I need RIGHT NOW?” Do I need to turn off social media because I’m doing too much comparing? Do I need to go outside and walk around in the fresh air for ten minutes? Do I need a nap? Do I need to call a trusted friend and vent for a few minutes? What can you do that will lessen the intensity of the emotion?
  • As I said before, emotions are information. Think about what this particular emotion is telling you…what does this emotion need you to do? If you are feeling resentful because no one helps you around the house, maybe that feeling is telling you to delegate something to someone else. If you are feeling angry with someone, maybe that feeling is telling you that you need to express your opinion (in a respectful, calm manner) to that person more clearly. If you are feeling sad, maybe you need to set aside some time to properly grieve or mourn for something (I’m talking about garden variety sadness here. If you think you might be depressed, please talk to your doctor or a therapist. There is help out there for you.)
  • Don’t be afraid to feel the feelings. Remember, they are there to help you!

We will talk more about emotions in the future I’m sure because there is so much to talk about. I am learning a great deal about why I feel the way I do and what I can do to change the situations that have led me to feel so frustrated and overwhelmed. And the great thing about this is that there are always opportunities to practice what I’ve learned, and I keep trying to do better and learn more each time.

If this resonates with you, let me know. Don’t be afraid to do the work that is ultimately going to benefit you and those around you. Take care of YOU.

Therapy Thursdays

Since I started working with Emily the Therapist, I’ve had all sorts of blog posts rambling around in my brain but I haven’t been organized enough to get them written and posted. I decided that a weekly post would be the best way to plan for and to actually write those posts, so welcome to Therapy Thursdays! On these days I’ll share what I’m learning from Emily and pass along some helpful tips and tricks to navigating The World According to Jill (feel free to insert your own name there). So let’s go!

When Emily and I started working together, one of the first things we discussed was having self-compassion. I’ve already talked a little bit about this here so go check out that post if you haven’t already. (Also, this article and this page are great too.) This is the foundation on which I am building my new thought patterns. It is not selfish or arrogant or prideful to consider your own feelings – it is NECESSARY. You matter, your opinions matter, your feelings matter, and you need to remind yourself of that fact often. Whatever you need to do to remind yourself – a mantra, a note on the mirror, a reminder on your phone – DO IT.  (I seriously have a reminder that pops up on my phone every evening at 6pm that says “You’re so RAD!” True story.)

What does having self-compassion and self-care look like in the day to day? How do we make that a practical application in our lives? One thing Emily and I talked about was how even though I am at the beck and call of my family, I don’t have to let that drown me. As The Mom, I think I am naturally the go-to person – the mother tends to be The Manager in the family as well as the glue that holds the whole darn thing together (sometimes precariously so). Dads are great, and super helpful too, but moms wear so many different hats and by default take care of so many different things every day: we’re chauffeurs, chefs, housekeepers, homework helpers, wives, mothers, employees, etc… we do so much and sometimes the things we do aren’t fun. But what we can do is improve the situation. We can do these things on our terms.  Let’s say you have to shuttle your kids from one activity to the next and you just really aren’t feeling the chauffeur vibe but somebody’s gotta do it and today that somebody is you. So, how do you improve the situation? You can maybe get yourself an iced coffee and listen to your favorite playlist while you’re driving, or listen to your favorite audio book while you’re waiting for your kid to get out of practice. Make the situation work for you. What about going to the grocery store? How do we improve that? Maybe you can bring a couple of kids along with you to the grocery store and give them each a few things on the list to find and bring to the cart (assuming they’re old enough) in order to cut down on the time you spend in the grocery store. You could make the grocery shopping a sort of date-night with your husband or S.O. (but that’s kind of a crappy date, if you think about it, unless you both really enjoy it) – but you get the gist. Even though you might feel like you are at the beck and call of everyone else, is there a way you can do these things on your terms? Of course there is! You just have to ask yourself “What is going to make this pain-in-the-arse chore more enjoyable for me?” and then DO THAT THING.  And this isn’t just for moms – it’s for anyone who feels overwhelmed with their busy lives. There’s no reason we can’t get something positive out of a task we’d rather not be doing. Have a boat-load of filing to do at work? Grab a fun coworker and have them help you for a few minutes. Facing an impossible deadline and have to work overtime? Call your favorite restaurant and have dinner delivered to you. Folding a mountain of white laundry on the weekend? Fire up Netfilx and watch your favorite show while you fluff and fold. If the situation is dis-pleasing to you, find a way to make it a little better. You won’t resent doing the task so much and next time you might actually look forward to it!

This thinking and questioning and considering and then actually doing…this is how you shift your mindset. This is how it happens – one small decision after another. Knowing that it’s perfectly okay to consider my own feelings and wants and needs is a different mindset for me and it’s going to take some time and lots of practice, but I feel like I have to do it in order to keep from losing myself. I’ve already made some good progress and I look forward to making more.