WAVES OF EMOTIONS
One thing we know at Beacon is that when we create a healthy relationship with ourselves and with food, we dive into an ocean of feelings too.
We use Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) skills that include emotional regulation, which helps us process and manage our emotions. DBT invites us to see the uniqueness of our human needs in multiple dimensions. It is rare that we feel one feeling at a time. There are usually multiple currents simultaneously.
Dr. Charlie Swenson is a renowned DBT practitioner and educator who loves a good metaphor. He says, “we are waves, and we are water. Both are true, and we can shift our focus back and forth between the unique waves and the individual water.” During stressful times in the world and in our lives and in the lives of our loved ones, it might be hard to make sense of things. It might be hard to even imagine the pain of others, especially when we believe it is unjust. How do we hold two feelings about the world and about our own concerns and worries? It is challenging. So our minds scan for the familiar.
Suddenly, a whole pizza with a side of coke may seem like the best idea you’ve had all day. Or a pint of ice cream or a bowl of popcorn makes sense. Or a combo meal at the drive-thru, pretending you are ordering for a family of three. Those can seem more manageable than all the upsets in our world or in ourselves. Indeed, those upsets are not manageable without skills.
What makes them manageable is practice. Practicing a new skill like calling a friend, writing with rage, crying, self-soothing, distracting with music, venting with a therapist. What makes them manageable is standing still and knowing this: Life is water. Waves come and go.
We know that building skills to bolster our health and well-being and understanding how we treat ourselves with food, strengthen our capacity to withstand the rough surf—to let a wave hit us hard, to cry, to get angry, to soothe our sadness, to and to have the capacity for glee, gladness and gloom.
What we teach at Beacon is that we can ride out the waves without drowning or avoiding. We will, in fact, learn to navigate whatever rolls in and whatever rolls out.
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash