If you haven’t noticed by now, I do a lot of self-love/self-care/happiness experiments on myself.
There are so many resources and ideas out there—I have a hard time just picking one thing to try.
One such experiment, for lack of a better term, is dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) that addresses the reasonable, emotional, and wise mind.
Photos that I STILL have yet to share from our roadtrip in November. Because, why not?
DBT is something that I stumbled upon by chance when I was looking for something other than traditional talk therapy to deal with my anxiety and disordered eating. I wasn’t interested in trying a new psychologist or psychiatrist because I hadn’t had much success with those methods in the past.
So, on a whim, I decided to give Leora Fulvio’s program a try.
I was pleasantly surprised by just how comprehensive her program is. It utilizes DBT as well as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and emotional freedom techniques (EFT), with different learning modules, worksheets, videos, and a forum to connect with other people going through the program.
It helped me almost immediately. It was one of the biggest catalysts in inspiring me to give up dieting for good, which in turn, almost completely eradicated my bingeing issue.
I highly recommend her blog and the course if you’re looking for a support group to deal with some of your disordered eating issues. It’s also an amazing hub of resources for self-reflection and growth.
Like a lot of the self-improvement resources I really love, it gives you real tools that you can use right now to stay present, address your unhelpful urges, and manage anxiety. Feel free to message me if you’re interested in learning more about the program, which I am not an ambassador or paid sponsor for, but am definitely a big fan of it.
Anyway, with some recent life changes, and in the name of self-care and discovery, I’m taking the course again. It never hurts to tighten up some coping skills that help me directly deal with issues head on instead of utilizing other, maladaptive coping mechanisms to cover up and not feel my feelings.
The course I most recently revisited focused on “Meeting Your Wise Mind”, a technique used to help change your automatic reactions to outside triggers. These reactions, like binge eating after a horrible day at work, or going for a glass of wine after an angry conversation with your partner, are often automatic because they are coping mechanisms that we’ve been using for years to deal with stress and discomfort.
They’re socially accepted forms of avoiding our issues, in order to delay what we really need for what is easier, immediate and feels good. We know that that drink isn’t going to improve our relationship, and we know that that box of Oreos (and pint of ice cream) isn’t going to make our jobs less stressful. T
he thing is, those reactions can be so deeply ingrained in ourselves that we barely notice when we are even doing it.
That’s where skills like accessing your wise mind come to the rescue.
I won’t dive too deeply into what or your “wise mind” is, but it is basically the part of you that knows what you need even when it’s sometimes hidden under the mountains of bullshit that keep us from doing what we really need, when we need it.
It’s the part of you that knows how to take care of you, that knows how to love you, that knows how to handle urges in helpful, self-loving ways instead of just reacting.
Our culture isn’t particularly helpful in encouraging us act on our wise mind instead of our emotional or reasonable mind. We’re taught to go for the quick release, the instant gratification, and the fast fix. Real change takes work, and who has time for that?
Sometimes even thinking about all the areas in my life that I want to improve overwhelms me to the point of not doing a single thing because why would I change my life when I could binge watch Shameless, grab a glass of wine, order in sushi, and go to bed at 6pm.
Sometimes we need that. But sometimes we really need to rally when going to bed after giving up on the evening and your passions becomes a habit.
Accessing your wise mind helps, and the best part is, it’s always there. It’s comforting in times of stress or overwhelm to know that inside of you is a part of you that is stronger, wiser, and knows what it is you need to get through anything that comes your way.
You have the capability to be your best friend, your best mentor, and your own ultimate guide.
One of the homework assignments is to write a letter to our wise mind, telling him or her exactly what it is we need from them. It’s a little hokey, but as a writer, I have to say it really helps to connect to my voice, regardless of how corny it is. Plus, we could all use a little extra corny anyway.
This is my letter.
Dear Wise Mind,
I’ve been ignoring you for a while. I’m not sure if it’s just because I didn’t want to hear the answer, or if it’s because I knew it would be hard, but I’m glad I finally found you again. Despite ignoring you for nearly a year or more, you seem to have grown stronger since the last time we spoke. I’m grateful for that. Thank you for staying in the background and building your fire as I tried on a different version of myself.
Ultimately, I decided that the path I had traveled down wasn’t for me, and that’s okay. Thank you for knowing I would make the right decision for myself, and for being there when I returned, alive and burning brighter than before.
In the practice of finding you—staying still, placing my hand on my heart, and identifying my core, and asking to meet you—I reconnected with myself in a way I hadn’t in a while. I remember the first time I did this practice. The first time I asked to meet you a few years ago, you really took your time in revealing yourself. The meditation from the lesson told me to wait for you to show yourself, but you didn’t seem able to connect. When you finally did appear, and I asked you a question as assigned, you didn’t have much to say.
Now, you appeared instantly. You came out of my molten core, and burned with bright, white and blue—ethereal and glowing. Your face changed, but for the most part remained nearly faceless, as your presence stayed strong and empowering.
This time, when I asked you what you wanted me to do, the answer was immediate, nearly interrupting the question before I had asked.
“To love yourself” you said, calm and strong in absolute clarity.
And with that, the chatter in my brain turned off. I had for the last several nights been focusing on all the things I felt I needed to do in order to improve myself, and make changes that would boost not only me and my morale but also eventually lead to changes in the world around me. It was the clarification that now is not the time for me to focus on everything else, the buzzing energy of life that presses in on my spirit from all angles. Now is the time to focus on loving myself, whatever form that takes. One step at a time.
You know, I have the tendency to take on the problems of the world. You know I have the tendency to get tunnel vision and focus on all that I can do to change people, or situations or issues. I let problems sit on my chest and bring me down, even if they aren’t my problems to deal with in the first place.
I love that about myself, but I also know that there is a time for everything, just not all at once. And now is the time for self-love.
Thank you. Your presence is a reminder that I have chosen exactly as I needed to.
Now, I ask you to keep your strength. I’m going to need you forever as I pave my way. I believe in my ability to change and have an impact on the world, but I need your guidance. I need your presence to remember that your affirmation is the only validation I need. I ask for you to help reveal my next steps, as I am ready for them.
Thank you. I could not have done this if it weren’t for your fire.
This letter was after I had to make a very tough decision, But ultimately the decision was to stay true to myself, a decision that can sometimes be extremely hard to make. Writing this letter, and connecting with my wise mind in the form of a letter and mediation, not only gave me peace on my decision, but it reminded me that the only affirmation I need can actually come from me too.
Lots of love to you all. Again, if you’re interested in hearing more about the program that has taught me so much in the last few years, feel free to comment below or send me a message on Facebook.