When we went to an intensive trauma treatment program in October, we learned a TON of DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) skills. One of them is called “Opposite Action” and it’s part of the Emotion Regulation Module (there are four total – the other three are Mindfulness, Distress Tolerance, and Interpersonal Effectiveness).
The basic idea is that you do something that is the exact opposite of what you’re feeling. So, for example, if you’re feeling really sad – you’d listen to upbeat, uplifting, happy music.
The point (I think) is to set off a chain reaction that leads to healthy, productive behaviors instead of unhealthy behaviors. They really loved to say the phrase: “It’s either helping or hurting.” So if you know you’re doing something that’s not hurting you, the odds are pretty good that it will (at some point down the line) help you.
Whatever. It’s lame, I know, but it actually works pretty well. I don’t always use it because I’m willful as fuck, but I’m working on that.
Anyway. When things sucked pretty badly last week, I did some shit that was definitely hurtful. But Andi bought me this badass coloring book that’s inspired by mandalas. I colored in many mandalas during our time at the Trauma program (they have huge books filled with them) and I actually found it to be very soothing. There were plenty of moments when I was coloring instead of punching people. And that’s important.
So despite the fact that I did self-harm (…twice) last week, I also took some time to color in this vehemently happy coloring book page with my new gel pens:
Maybe next time I’ll pick up the gel pens before I pick up the blade…?
Opposite action, yo.