Live the Life You Want

Finding a way to live a life that you want is something with which every person struggles.  We all sometimes think “why not me?” when we watch the Olympics or Wimbledon, encounter someone successful in business or meet someone who simply seems at peace with their life.

However, when you have traumatic past experiences, live with a mental illness or have experienced painful life events, how you live your life can feel very much out of your control.  Intense emotions like anxiety, depression or rage can make living the life you want seem entirely out of reach.  Often problem behaviors like addictions, eating disorders and self-harm are attempts to escape intense emotional pain.  People simply want to stop feeling miserable and can’t begin to imagine a life based on choice and what they want.

A core goal in Dialectical Behavior Therapy is to build a life worth living.  In order to do so, DBT first focuses on getting problematic behaviors under control.  The assumption is that life is emotional hell when you are engaging in behaviors that are self-destructive, life threatening or that seriously impact your quality of life.  The only way to climb out of that hell is to learn new ways of dealing with the emotional pain that causes self-destructive behavior.

Often simply getting behaviors under control is not enough.  People continue to feel miserable even after they have stopped cutting or begun to manage their binging and purging.  At this stage, the focus of DBT is on emotional experiencing.  Traumatic experiences, intense and painful life events and overwhelming crisis can be debilitating and lead to emotional inhibition.  This next step involves strategies to help people experience a normal range of emotions.

And finally, with behavior under control and the ability to experience emotions, it is possible to consider what life you want to live.  Solving the everyday problems you face and increasing your self respect can get you pointed down the road towards the life you want to lead.

9 Replies to “Live the Life You Want”

  1. Christy, I really like how you demystify DBT here. I also think for everyone living a life you want takes a lot of hard work. And like you mention here, coping with your emotions healthfully is key. And the importance of a stable and positive sense of self can’t be overemphasized.

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  5. A great explanation of DBT and the process of feeling out of control of your behaviors and emotions to living a life you’re happy with. I wish the process were as simple as the explanation of it… ahh, such is life.

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  7. I don’t understand DBT thinking,I found some info online and at the library and plan to buy the workbook.I am a multi tasker and have been so from a very young age,I believe 10.DBT talks about focusing on only one thought at a time.This really frustrates Me,and I can’t seem to do this! Can You help Me here? Accepts the other DBT lesson helps alot! I can write out my current bothersome probs,priortize and then let it go! This works everytime! It’s wonderful! Sometimes while sleeping I experience bad psychosis,sort of in my mind seeing all this static.When this happens,I know now that I am too overwhelmed.Now my men health nurse wants Me to find a way to overcome this prob without relying on someone for help.This is scary but I know I can do this! (Smile)

    1. It sounds like you’ve found some real benefits with DBT and have been using many of the skills to improve your life. Focusing on one thought at a time can be one of the most difficult skills. Especially in the world we live in today, where we are constantly bombarded with multiple demands. Focusing your thoughts is often taught in mindfulness, which emphasizes the need to practice and begin by simply noticing when you’re lost in thought. It might be more about learning to bring your mind back than in being able avoid thinking in multiple directions altogether. Thanks for commenting.

  8. I could not understand DBT. Lineham’s books are written in such clinical fashion, that when you are in an emotional status, trying to understand is very difficult. I found the book “Out-of-Control, A Dialectical Behavior Therapy ( DBT ) –
    Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy ( CBT ) Workbook
    for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior”
    by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D.
    Plain english, meaningful worksheets, I could almost do it alone. I work with my therapist, but have made HUGE and Tremendous changes in the matter of just weeks as compared to the 3 years I have been working with the therapist alone. I do chapter by chapter, and then we review what I learned and how I was able to use it, or how I could have used it in situations that I didn’t and what outcomes I could have had. It is amazing!
    http://www.dbt-cbt-workbook.com
    Wendy

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