In the PTSD module in The Healing Academy, Mags shares strategies I taught her for coping with her triggers. I based those strategies on the work I did in The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook, a resource I still recommend to anyone dealing with PTSD and other high-stress situations.
Here are five life-changing lessons I got from this book.
Interested to hear Mags’ ideas about this too? She recorded a podcast about it!
#1. Grounding Is An Incredible Tool If You Will Use It
This is the process of pausing in the middle of an anxiety or PTSD episode to find 3 things: 1 to look at, 1 to feel, and 1 to smell. As the adrenaline dump of fight or flight overtakes us, whether rightly or wrongly, our entire environmental reality can fall away. This often means that we focus only on our fear and symptoms and not the reality of the situation.
#2. Self-Talk Is More Powerful Than Most People Realize
I started with DBT by just reciting the same thing: “Nothing here can hurt me. I am in a (lobby) with my (friend) and (drinking a soda). My abuser is not here.” By focusing on reality and not the messages drilled into your head by the abuse, you can learn to bring yourself back to the present, which is an essential skill whether you are having an attack or not. I know for years when I went to a public place, I had problems with being afraid he would show up, no matter how illogical or remote that seemed. This kind of self-talk helped tremendously.
Mags and the team are here to help you get out of constant survival mode and build a life filled with love and laughter. Are you ready to build a better relationship with yourself, and the people around you? We are here to help!
#3. I Learned The Value And Process Of Mindfulness
Mindfulness sometimes is perceived as some kind of Eastern philosophy “mumbo jumbo,” when it is, in fact, the key to managing all aspects of your health. Mindfulness is taught in DBT as emotional regulation, but its broad application to things like eating, exercise, control of blood pressure, and many other life activities can’t be ignored. It also equips you to recognize “red flag” feelings and behaviors so you can head off your own triggers, which is amazingly empowering!
#4. Giving Yourself Plenty Of Options For Activities, Things You Like, People You Value, And Ways To Serve Others Are All Essential To Taking Your Focus Off Yourself
That is, if you are constantly prepping for the next panic attack or overtaken by hypervigilance thinking your abuser is around the next corner, keeping focused on other things will help you to relax. Despite the fact that I had already developed some workarounds (pounding the dirt with a hammer when I was angry or hypervigilant, carrying around a backpack full of firewood whenever I let Captain Crazy talk in my head), keeping my options open was incredibly important because I could find some relief just about anytime, anywhere.
Changing how you speak to yourself, will allow you to create lasting change and help you become your own greatest cheerleader. Conquer low self-esteem and self-doubt, while building a life you love. Navigate the challenges of life with confidence and optimism.
#5. The Power Of Visualization Is Also Something I Vastly Underestimated Before Learning DBT
I learned to visualize myself having fun, relaxing on a beach, reaching my wildest career goals, and more. By creating a rich and rewarding set of visualizations, I could focus on my future which every expert says it an underlying difference between those who are truly successful and those who are not.