Today we continued our discussion of distress tolerance skills. We reviewed the importance of practice even when not distressed to be ready for the times that we are. We also talked about the ways in which we might not even realize that we are going through a crisis. One of my colleagues, Dr. Martha Golden, likes to start this module with a definition of "crisis" and I think that may be appropriate here as well.
A crisis is defined as:
specific, unexpected, and non-routine events or series of events that [create] high levels of uncertainty and threat or perceived threat
This does not mean that there will be a catastrophe as a result of the event; just that there is a perception that it might. We then moved into discussion of the new skill: accepting reality. We practiced several exercises from Distress Tolerance Handout 2 and each picked an activity to do for homework.
We then discussed the concept of "Half-Smiling" as a way to respond to emotional experiences on a physiological level allowing us to work on counteracting that strong, and often unaddressed, aspect of emotion. As before, we practiced half-smiling.
Both of these activities - observing your breath and half-smiling - are experiential interventions, meaning practicing them and tweaking your practice is essential to making them work. Next week, we'll be discussing more reality acceptance exercises and the concept of radical acceptance.