Avoidance or Self-Care?

Pampering-spa-facial Have you ever thought about when you are avoiding and when you do 'self-care'?. It's a fine line, isn't it? A whole industry is concerned with distress tolerance and emotional regulation skills. The most commonly known are the Linehan DBT skills. They teach you to use such as

  • Identifying and labeling emotions
  • Identifying obstacles to changing emotions 
  • Increasing positive emotional events
  • Increasing mindfulness to current emotions
  • Doing the opposite 
  • Learning skills for tolerating and surviving crises 
  • Learning to accept life as it is in the moment
  • Distracting, self-soothing, and improving the moment 
  • Thinking of pros and cons of a situation
  • Radical acceptance
  • Employ one's will instead of being wwillful

How do you decide when these skills are used for distress tolerance and emotion regulation, and when are they used to avoid to do the 'hard work'? Where is the line when distress tolerance skills are not self-care but avoidance? That's not always a clear-cut situation.

Indeed, the processing of trauma and the integrative work requires from DID clients that different personality parts expand their emotional range and tolerate distress without switching into other parts. May I suggest a rule of thumb? When using skills that dissociate and distract you from your problems become a habitually used more permanent life position, you are probably avoiding to address your problems. 

I have found it helpful in most situations to discuss the problem of avoidance vs. self-care with the DID client. Although they may have children parts and sometimes act as children, they are also adults who are capable of dealing with very difficult life situations. They deserve to be treated with respect and become the 'collaborator' in the decision making of their recovery.

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