A Proactive Tool for Managing Negative Emotions from DBT
By: Jaclyn Rink
Try accumulating positives that impact you in both the short-term and long term.
Short Term: Do pleasant things that are possible now (e.g., play a fun game, take a bubble bath, have your favorite treat).
Long Term: Make changes in your life that allow more positive events to occur or do something in the short-term that will eventually help you feel positive effects in the future (e.g., workout routine, eating healthy, fostering a friendship).
Do things that make you feel competent and effective to help combat helplessness and hopelessness.
Goals should be:
Not Too Difficult: If something is too difficult to achieve, many of us struggle to see progress and give up too quickly.
Not Too Easy: When goals are too easy, we often feel like we don’t deserve any recognition (e.g., “It’s no big deal.”) and downplay our achievements.
Balanced Goals: For example: If I am training for my first marathon, but am not new to physical fitness (e.g., I do Pilates, but have never run before), I would not goal myself to run a 7-minute mile (too difficult!) nor would I goal myself a 12-minute mile (too easy! I could walk that!). Think challenging, but doable, and don’t forget to track your success along the way !
Rehearse a plan ahead of time so that you are prepare to cope skillfully with emotional situations. Think about how you will react to what the other person might say and envision yourself being calm in response.
Ask: What might happen and how will I cope?
Cope Ahead is Different Than Anxious/Perseverative Thoughts: Anxiety about the future causes us to worry about the “What If’s” and we often feel out of control since we cannot predict or impact the situation. Coping ahead allows us to plan and practice our reactions to outcomes, providing relief from anxiety since we have an action plan. Keep in mind coping ahead is different than obsessing about the future. Once you have figured out/practice this skill, you can let the worries of the future leave your mind.