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  • Writer's pictureAlicia Paz

Stepping Outside My Comfort Zone the DBT Way

A few years back while facilitating DBT online I decided to grab a Diary Card and fill one out. So many skills are so natural to me after years of teaching DBT, I thought it would be a breeze. It seemed only fair that if my students were filling them out, I would too. Overall I did well and used 10+ skills everyday, so that was a win. But it was the same skills again and again. I spoke about this in class and a student pointed out that I knew the skills too well, so well that I got stuck in the cycle of what was easy instead of using the most effective skill. I used the same skills, not the best for the situation, but the easiest ones to use. I started challenging myself to use other skills, outside of my comfort zone.

The skill that I knew well, but rarely used was Improve the Moment. Let me briefly state that this skill is a struggle for many people including myself because it's about taking a trip, or changing your scenery in some way- most of the examples are always exotic (and expensive) vacations. I work in social services and am a single mom, Hawaiian beach vacations are not on the menu of skills I can use.

Well, I did it! I took a work trip to the coast this week and during my brief free time there I kept thinking how much my kids would love the sand, how dry and warm it was (it's Oregon in March, 40F and rain is the norm) and overall how things have been so hectic we could all use a moment. The next day I booked a cottage, packed (well, overpacked,) stopped at a drug store for kids' backpacks and snacks and headed out. My kids slept most of the way there, we stretched our legs once we hit the Pacific Ocean, grabbed a perfectly-fried fish lunch and arrived here today. It's been wonderful. Everyone is loving it all. The kids are overjoyed playing in the sand and although I am doing some work, I have shut business notifications off until 8pm today and tomorrow as well as when I have my children with me.

Tomorrow we will have breakfast at a place called Grumpy's Cafe down the road, more time on the beach and then a quick trip to a cheese factory on the way back- mostly because they have ice cream and a cow display!

This isn't likely to be a regular activity by any means, but it's a reminder that there are so many DBT and mental health coping skills I don't utilize. It's a great reminder to push myself. This week's goal is to fill out a diary card daily.

Rockaway, Oregon

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