Opposite Action: Getting My Insides to Match My Outsides
Text from Shaelene: “Are you up for writing a blog for the website in December?” Judgments start to get loud “Me?? Blog? What am I going to write about?” Memories start to surface of staring at a blank word document the night before a 10-page paper was due. I really do not like writing. I paused, took a step back and tuned into my current thoughts. I began to observe all of my judgments and check the facts. Shaelene wouldn’t ask me to write something if she didn’t think I could do it. And I have never had anyone say to me, “You are a bad blogger.” I replied “Okay” still unsure of what I was committing to.
So here I am, writing a blog post. Opposite to emotion action ALL THE WAY. Opposite to emotion is one of my favorite (judgment) DBT skills. It is what I use most to combat unwarranted fear and shame. If I did everything my emotion mind thoughts told me to do I would be a hermit. This skill (in addition to acting from wise mind) has come in especially handy during the holiday season. I have been trying my best to balance my yes’s and no’s so I am neither over committed or “Grinching” at home alone.
Most recently, I used opposite to emotion action to attend a dinner with old friends. Social gatherings with friends I have not seen in a while leads to unwarranted anxiety. I was dreading the dinner all week due to emotion mind judgments of: “I don’t fit in, they like others better than me, I’m too tired to be social on a Friday night, what am I going to talk about?”
After it was over I was happy I went. This usually is always the case – I never want to go but when I do I have a good time. This is not to say I didn’t battle comparison thoughts and mind reading all night of “I’m too quiet, I am not fun enough, why would people be excited to see me? What do I add to the conversation?” Flashbacks to high school of being painfully shy crept in all night. I hated that part of me growing up and I thought I was past social anxiety.
On the drive home from dinner I was quiet and my husband could tell that I was “up in my head.” I start to tell him my thoughts (more opposite action) even though I did not want to because I knew they were not based in reality; but they felt SO real. My husband was able to help by verifying reality: “You fit in more than you think; they really love and care about you; you don’t come off the way you think you do.”
My battle in life: my insides don’t match my outsides. The way I view myself is not the way others view me. Every time I act opposite to my emotion mind I get one more step closer to quieting the unwarranted thoughts that trigger feelings of fear and shame. This is hard to do but it gets me closer to my true self. So, next time you have those loud judgments of “I’m not good enough” practice quieting them by using opposite to emotion action ALL THE WAY-change not only your actions, but your posture, your tone, your thoughts-all of it.
Peace, Love and Skills,