I’m changing blogs!! Please update your readers with elevenpetals.com/blog!! Also – you will find my version of “Things to do when you are bored” or “The Big List of Pleasurable Activities” on the new blog – CLICK HERE.
Anxiety. Stress. We feel it. We react. Sometimes we react well. YAY! Happy days!!! *smiley face emoticon*
But sometimes stress causes us to be overwhelmed with emotion. *frowny face emoticon*
We are overwhelmed by stress. We react poorly. Our emotions course through our veins, race through our minds, and/or sink into an uncomfortable pit in our stomachs and we, in a sense, lose control. Logic flies out the window. We shut-down. We bite back. We avoid. We cry. We act in spite: spiting ourselves, our loved ones, our feelings. Our emotions take over. We spiral.
In my last post, we discussed Common but Self-Defeating Coping Mechanisms for Stress and detailed the negative consequences to each mechanism. And let’s be honest – most of us have used more than one of those coping strategies on the list. That’s why I labeled them “common”.
Ok – so, sure – it’s great to acknowledge these reactions are self-defeating… and even better to acknowledge you use them. (or maybe vice versa) But so what? When you’re living in that moment you don’t care!! If you DID, you wouldn’t be acting that way. *duh*
So what can you do? How do we fight back if, in a way, we’ve already lost control?
You need to distract yourself so that you can snap out of it and come back to the situation/problem/stress with a refreshed and in-control mind. *Big SMILE!* Distraction skills help you temporarily stop thinking about your stress, they help you prevent your emotions from spiraling farther and they give you time to find an appropriate reaction for your stress. *Even BIGGER Smile*
Soooo…..Make the choice NOW, that you WILL choose to distract yourself the next time you find yourself in a self-defeating reaction to stress. YAY! Tell yourself NOW that no matter how convincing your irrational justifications for your behavior are, the next time you find yourself coping with stress in a self-defeating way, you WILL, even though you won’t want to, try a distracting technique. (which btw – will be covered more in the next post)
Have you done it yet? Have you made the choice?
No? ok – well… seriously…
Do it. *warrior face emoticon*
haha. Just teasing. But for REAL? Make the decision. NOW. Because if you don’t do it NOW – you probably will find yourself wishing you had.
(and I wonder why my boyfriend teases me about being bossy *slanted smile emoticon*)
****IMPORTANT NOTE: Please do not confuse distracting yourself with avoidance. Distracting yourself when your emotions are overwhelming? Good. Avoiding? BAD. The difference? “When you avoid a distressing situation you choose not to deal with it. But when you distract yourself from a distressing situation, you still intend to deal with it in the future, when your emotions have calmed down.”*****
Ok – so we understand the importance of and the “why should we?” for distraction… BUT
Before we use distracting skills we need Radical Acceptance
Distracting yourself will never work unless you learn “Radical Acceptance”. Radical Acceptance is accepting life for what it is – judgment free. If you can’t accept that life IS and cannot be controlled, you are probably a control freak. What? You probably are!
Let’s be real. Life cannot be controlled. Bad things happen. Stress happens. And wishing something didn’t happen is ultimately a waste of your time. When you are upset that something happened you miss the point that it DID happen and now you need to deal with it.
Let’s think about this for a second. Do you REALLY think that being upset and angry, or wishing something didn’t happen will change the outcome of something that has already happened? Or going back to our list of Common but Self-Defeating Coping Mechanisms for Stress - will ANY of these reactions CHANGE the outcome of what lead to your stress?
If you said “yes” – you are wrong. *Playful winky emoticon* Each of those coping mechanisms ultimately paralyze you. You cannot move forward and change the situation when you are busy engaging in self-defeating behaviors. You might not be able to prevent feeling angry, upset, critical and judgmental, but you can accept that dwelling on those feelings won’t help.
Feel it, acknowledge it, accept it, move forward.
Trying to fight a moment in time, that has already happened, only leads to poor reactions and more stress.
Now, of course, this doesn’t mean you have to condone or agree with bad behavior in other people. Accepting life for what it is only encourages you to not get angry about what has already happened and to not waste time trying to point the finger. Blame, anger and dwelling will never help! If a situation needs to be changed – change it!! but don’t dwell on who is to blame or get caught up in being disappointed in yourself for allowing the situation to happen.
Feel it, acknowledge it, accept it, move forward.
Back to Distraction
We’re going to talk more about Radical Acceptance in future blog posts but for now … let’s get back to Distraction as a coping mechanism for stress.
Developing distraction skills are more involved than I realized at first. It’s going to take more than one post to get through them. *sorry!!* BUT since I promised you some distracting ideas in THIS post, I’ve included pages 15-16 from “The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook” by McKay, Wood and Brantley for you (Click the link for a pdf). It’s called “The Big List of Pleasurable Activities” and they claim it contains a list of over 100 ideas of things to do. But I think listing “exercise” and then 14 different ways to exercise shouldn’t be counted as 15 things to do so I edited the list, added a few of my own ideas and included my amended version at the bottom of this post. Please consider doing one of these things when you start feeling yourself reacting poorly or not caring that you are upset. YAY!!!!
(YAY that there is a list – NOT yay that you are reacting poorly)
But WAIT! There really is more!
If looking at the list makes you think “This will never work” – bear with me ok? *hopeful smiley emoticon* I realize this is just a LONG list of things to do. But the fact is, doing ANYTHING to change the pace a little should help you refocus and refresh your mind. YAY!
PLUS – we haven’t gotten to the distraction SKILLS yet! That will be next time. My next blog will cover in-depth ideas for distracting your thoughts and I’ll also go over the book’s suggestions for relaxing and fighting anxiety.
to be continued!
And please CLICK HERE to be taken to the list of things to do It’s at the bottom of the blog. Thanks!!