That gnawing dread when you’re feeling a happy feeling has a name!
You might be predisposed to thinking dichotomously (black ’n’ white) about just about everything. The food on our plate being good or bad, criticizm being positive or negative, people being bad or good. Not all the time…but most of the time. And the rest of the time, if you’ve been lucky enough to find a good trainer (see below for more details) we are using those good ol’ Dialectic Behavioural Therapy skills to reign in the behaviours so we can make informed choices on our actions in wise-mind.
It’s easy to lump Borderline Personality Disorder into a highly negative light with very little room for optimism or hope as the majority of the time we’re throwing around terms like “trauma” and “attention seeking” and “manipulative” and “abandonment”. So when you find someone with BPD who has a smile on their face, you might automatically assume they are cured…or seriously medicated. Happiness is genuinely a common feeling with BPD. With DBT a person with BPD can develop an understanding of the variety of joys (glee/delight/elation) that exist in the world and how opportunities for this joy are everywhere.
The big flaff with it is that, even when we are having a coherently happy emotion, we are also considering it’s longevity. Yes, even positive emotions in BPD need some careful consideration to maintain stability. Dichotomous thinking can have you feeling a happy emotion so entirely…and struggling with battling the complete opposite thoughts at the same time: That it will not last, that it will never come again, that the fall is going to come and it’s going to come hard. This is Acute Anxiety. “But I have it all the time,” I hear you cry. No, no you don’t. Before you noticed it, it wasn’t there. But now you’ve noticed, it’s the pink elephant in the room…but we’re still laughing…and laughing a lot. Milking the positive emotion for all it’s worth so that pink elephant is pushed away to be processed later…along with all the other pink elephants anxieties. Until the anxiety box is full of pink elephants and bursts open. Cue Poor Mental Health episode…and a hilarious mental image of pink elephants just bouncing into everything!
DBT helps to settle the brain, reinforcing the connections between behaviour, meaning and emotions. First established by Borderline Expereinced Psychologist, Marsha Linehan, it works by establishing appropriate behaviour and meaning. By putting in the short-term focus, it is possible to reassure the brain that it is able to experience, and process, multiple emotions at the same time so there are a multitude of pink elephants on an orderly parade. That it is possible to feel secure this emotion, and secure in the knowledge that the emotion will return…trumpty-trump-trump-trump. Pick up a copy of Marsha Linehan's DBT Skills Training Manual here (kindle edition available) And her very uselful DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets here (kindle edition available) These resources are the basic starter pack for self-led restructuring of your emotional jack-in-the-box of pink elephants! Get them b*tches under control!