"Do what makes your heart happy" has been a favorite saying of mine when I'm asked for advice.
"Should I wear this?"
"Should I go here?"
"Can I do that?"
"Do what makes your heart happy!"
It's such a great answer. Offered very carefully, of course! lol
I've been reflecting on this concept as I think about February - the month where we focus on kindness and love. I'm sitting at one of my favorite places - a small cafe and bakery - and I consider some of the things that make my heart happy.
A lovely chai latte.
A long talk with a friend.
A hug from my amazing grandson.
A successful chat with a WIX customer service agent. (True story!)
Teaching people about DBT skills in our workshops, I frequently express how these skills make MY heart happy. It has been six years since I discovered the transformative impact of Dialectical Behavior Therapy. At that time, my family was in chaos, and we felt quite hopeless. Our primary concern was our son's mental illness, and despite seeking assistance from various avenues, we only found practical and beneficial tools after learning some fundamental DBT skills.
Why do DBT skills make my heart happy?
It's likely because they've given me the tools to become the person I've always wanted to be - for my family, colleagues, classroom, and myself. Before acquiring these skills, I was often controlled by my emotions. I would react when angry, sad, overwhelmed, afraid, you name it! I would often reflect on the day and wish I had held my tongue or been kinder or more patient. But, my reactions brought out a side I wasn't proud of. It's not that I was mean. Many people are surprised that I have these personal reflections. The truth is, I knew that things could be different. I just didn't know how to achieve them.
Then, I learned some skills.
Mindfulness has been a big eye-opener for me. I used to have a pretty jaded view of what I 'thought' mindfulness was. I was filled with suspicion and lacked awareness that it could be helpful. Mindfulness has taught me to slow down my thoughts so that I can truly be present and aware of the person in front of me.
Reactivity is reduced, and effective response is growing.
I love it when I can approach a very tense situation with the understanding that I don't have to be influenced by my emotions. Instead, I am aware of them, and I can choose what works best for this moment, for the person in front of me. What a change!
Another amazing skill that has been a game-changer is self-validation. Before learning these skills, I would often reflect on my day in a self-deprecating way. I was (am) a bit of a perfectionist. 🤔Who's there with me? Perfectionism comes with a set of challenging self-talk experiences.
"What were you thinking?"
"That was so stupid!"
"How did you let that happen?"
Rarely did I think that I could or should be kind to myself. My intense judgment of my own weaknesses often demonstrated itself in my judgment of others. Why not share the 'fun'? Right?
Learning to use self-validation to connect with my feelings and respond in a way that is kind and accepting of my weaknesses without judgment has been such a beautiful gift! And guess what? I'm less judgmental of the people around me now, too! We all have our own stories.
Kindness is a gift that keeps giving.
I could talk for hours about why learning DBT skills makes my heart happy. For more information, visit my other blog posts on www.SILAskills.org or follow @silaskills on Facebook, Instagram, or X.
I share my thoughts about skills there as well.
If my journey reflects yours and you want to learn these skills, SILA Skills has a new spring workshop starting in March for those who work in education. It's called Transforming Classrooms. Using skills in my classroom has helped me finally be the teacher I've always wanted to be. Believe me - these skills work! I love facilitating other educators in these skills. Why not join me?
If you are not in the field of education but are keen on acquiring these skills, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be delighted to have a conversation with you and set you on your own learning journey.
Hope is right around the corner!