Change and Acceptance

This is one of the dialectics in Diabolical Behavioral Therapy: change and acceptance.  I’m tempted to write ‘change vs. acceptance’ because there’s so much tension between them at first glance…but both are needed to do dbt successfully.

Some people need to be more change-focused, and others more acceptance-focused.  But both are needed.  As Marsha says, (and I’m loosely paraphrasing here), “you are okay as you are, And your life might be more fulfilling if you made some changes”.  A lot of people have trouble holding that both of those things are true.  And yet I think both things would hold true for almost anyone – whether or not they identify as having a mental illness or not.

I am definitely on the `needing more acceptance’ side.  I am so self-critical it’s hard for me to do anything `good’ for myself, including practicing the dbt skills.  I’m also really critical of other people (although they’re `better’ than I am, because at least they seem to be more functional than me).  I’m really judgmental, again, of myself and others.  When I practice `mindfulness of judgmental thoughts’, nearly every single thought is self-critical/judgmental.  I remember our homework one week in dbt class was to catch a few judgmental thoughts a day.  Damn, are you kidding?  I did 10 minutes at a time.  And I know, `don’t judge your judging’ is a dbt motto…and it is very, very hard to do.  I tried laughing at my ‘judging-judging’, but that just felt fake.  My homework now is to actually sing my `judging-judging’ thoughts. “I’m such an asshole for being so judgmental, what an arrogant bitch” I sing like I’m in a punk band, an opera….to the tune of Old Macdonald had a farm.  Loud and soft, squeaky-voiced and pretty, this exercise does actually take the power out of the words.  They’re just words.  Blah, blah, blah, blah….  I may as well be singing about taking out the trash.  I really, really don’t like this exercise…but I can see its use.  And I’ve committed to this whole process, so I will sing some judgments this week.  In the privacy of my own home.  Under the covers. Embarrassed.  Come on now, try it too.  I know you want to! ; )

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