In our online Emotion Regulation 1 class today, one of our students shared that this past weekend she attended a family dinner where a relative made insensitive remarks about minority groups, and this really offended her. She noticed her anger rising to 95 on a scale of 0-100. After the incident, she filled out an Emotion Regulation 1A worksheet and discussed it in group today.
While checking in about the homework she completed, she shared that days later she is still feeling some anger toward the person. Part of this is because she openly and respectfully expressed her dismay at his behavior, and rather than take responsibility for the comments that he made and offering a sincere apology, he gave her a business-like email response accepting no responsibility.
Unable to change her relative's ways and his response, she needed to figure out how to take care of herself.
Here are the ways that she is using DBT skills and her Wise Mind to cope as effectively as possible:
- Took her day off from work as a chance to rest and self-soothe
- Did the 1A worksheet
- Expressed her angry thoughts about this person in a safe way by writing them in her personal journal rather than giving in to urges to break things, which she would later regret
- Did tasks that made her feel masterful including housework
- Structured her day to include meal times and bed time so she didn't sink deeper into the overwhelm of the emotion and neglect these important aspects of her day
- Set boundaries, including a clearly expressed message about how her feelings were hurt (using the DBT Skills set of DEAR MAN)
- Avoided mood altering substances, which is something she struggles with when feeling emotionally triggered.
- Reached out to safe people for support
- Realized that, in the future, she will carefully consider how she is feeling emotionally before exposing herself to people that upset her... she will "Avoid Mood Altering People."
In doing these steps, the student helped to reduce her anger and kept herself safe and distant from potentially sabotaging behaviors. She found ways to manage and tolerate the distress that arose from the upsetting interactions with her family member.
Do you sometimes find yourself in situations with "mood altering people"? How might you skillfully handle situations like that faced by this student? How might you take care of yourself in terms of your exposure to such people?