Balancing the Past with Now

Radical acceptance is an idea, mindset, and skill taught in Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), a. It is often introduced as part of a full DBT program and along with or as part of mindfulness.I have been teaching these strategies to my own patients in groups and in individual therapy for several years. I have not met anyone in my practice that has not benefited from learning these strategies. When provided to my patients who live with the challenges of bipolar disorder, I always receive positive feedback. The strategies for coping and balancing the emotions seem to fare well in decreasing the experience of the discomfort of stress, which in turn can decrease the probability of a manic episode or a depression being triggered by the stress. The stressors still exist, but mastering strategies designed to lessen the intensity of the experience of stress, so that is tolerable seems to be behind the successes that I hear about in my own work.

To radically accept the present moment means that you must acknowledge that the present moment is due to a long chain of events and decisions made by you and other people in the past. The present moment never spontaneously leaps into existence without being caused by events that have already taken place. Imagine that each moment of our life is connected like a line of dominoes that knock each other down.[i] This does not mean that you accept every bad situation that happens to you, rather, we train our minds to become quite so that we can sort out what we can do now about our present situation, and what we need to let go of so that we can move forward with the hope of better outcomes in the future. We actively find a “space” between our thoughts, where creativity can flow through us in a divine sort of way, opening the door of our minds and hearts to receive new perspectives and new opportunities that can only be found in the “now moment” . This empowers us to move forward with approaches, helps to stop the reactive thoughts and behaviors that might have had their grip on us, and allows us to respond in the best possible way to current circumstances. When operating from this level of consciousness, a person is better equipped to make decisions that are in our own best interest and to discover and apply right action to current circumstances. These thoughts and actions will then influence the next “moment” and over time, if we continue to operate in this manner, the probability that the conditions of our lives will become more favorable will increase.

The word dialectic means to balance and compare two things that appear very different or even contradictory. In DBT, the balance that one endeavors to experience is between change and acceptance; between the past, and the here and now. It’s about understanding that what is past is past, accepting what is, and moving into the here and now. DBT strategies were developed and introduced by Marsha Linehan and has become a staple in most clinician’s “tool box” . Her strategies have helped individuals searching for ways to increase a sense of meaningfulness, manage and regulate emotions, tolerate distress, and learn coping strategies that will bring forth empowerment in one’s life. You can read about her and learn more about her work in a post by Therese J. Borchard, titled What is Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in our very own Psych Central. See URL below.

 


[i]

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy Skills Workbook by Mathew McKay, PH.D; Jeffery C. Wood, Psy D; Jeffrey Brantley, MD. Pg. 51

URL for Post: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/28/marsha-linehan-what-is-dialectical-behavioral-therapy-dbt/