I can hear my therapist’s voice in my head, saying “Opposite action!” That’s a dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) skill she taught me a few months ago, and apparently one I use often without realizing I’m using it. What is the opposite action DBT skill? Marsha Linehan, who is the founder of DBT, said, “Every emotion has an action.” She also said that “You can actually change the emotion by changing the action.”

Here is an example: You’re depressed. All your depression wants you to do is lay in bed and watch mindless television shows all day long in your pajamas. That’s what feels good to depression. Instead, you do the opposite and get in the shower, get dressed, and go out. Presto, you feel better–even if just an iota better–than you’d feel if you had stayed in bed.

Linehan said:

One of the ways that you can change your emotion is to just reverse the circle. We just start with action that is opposite and that circle starts going in the other way. And the emotion starts going down.

That’s opposite action in a nutshell. It’s like removing some of the power from the negative emotion, don’t you think?

And it’s also like a big “eff you” to your depression (or other emotion you’re trying to shake).

I do not like running, but I’m doing it anyway–because reaching a goal feels good. I’m continuing this weekly blog hop even though I don’t feel much like patting myself on the back these days–because it is good for me to treat myself with kindness, especially when I’m feeling low (which I am, thanks to this awful, cold, gray, rainy/icy stretch of weather we’ve been having). Those are the first two things that come to mind when I ask myself what I’m doing right this week.

So, for now, the blog hop must go on…because I don’t feel like doing it. But your comments and links are like…dare I say itsunshine on a cloudy day!

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  1. I love this. I’ve been starting to do this anyway lately, but now I’m going to be even more conscious of it. I always struggle with whether it is kinder to indulge the bad emotions or try to fight them, but I think the answer is somewhere in between.
    story recently posted..I want to be present

  2. I, too, love this. I thought I commented yesterday but maybe I didn’t. I donno. But either way I think that it’s important to be able to do this sometimes.

    Maybe it’s not ALWAYS going to be the way, but to have it in you to do it now and then? Rocks. :)
    Andrea recently posted..I’m doing it right. Right Now.

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