Mouse Does DBT: “How” Skills

Week Two brought Mouse to the “How” mindfulness skills. Though Mouse wasn’t sure why they were called that, or how to do them…

Non-judgementally

To be non-judgemental is to be factual and not emotional. Using the wise mind you can disarm the judgemental thoughts that we all have about ourselves or others. The disarmament comes from simply recognising when a thought is a judgement, not a fact.  For example:

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The first two mice are non-judgemental. They are stating facts about the state of the cake. However the third mouse is in emotion mind and is using emotion based judgements to define the cake. It’s really hard to be non-judgemental, particularly if you are so hating of yourself that you see the judgemental thoughts as fact. “I’m ugly.” “I’m stupid”. “I’m worthless”. We all have those pesky thoughts. But by realising that they are judgements rather than truths they can be less upsetting.

One mindfully

Doing things one-mindfully is about using the whole of your awareness in a task. One thing at a time, even if the thing you are doing feels insignificant. Notice the tiny details like the backgrounds of film scenes or how many buttons are on a shirt. One mindfully can be practiced using the ‘what’ skills from last week.

Effectively

Effectiveness is about practice. A lot of practice. Practicing these skills again and again until you become more mindful, and thus more effective.

Next in Mouse Does DBT, Distress Tolerance!

(Please note that Upside Down Chronicles has no training or therapeutic expertise, only experience. This series ‘Mouse Does DBT’ is to support people going through DBT themselves, or for those interested in the therapy. Please contact your GP if you need further support for mental health problems.)  

Mouse Does DBT: The Wise Mind

Welcome to a brand new blog series- “Mouse Does DBT”. DBT skills explained by mice!

A cartoon drawing of a white mouse sitting on a blue seat. Mouse holds a tiny toy mouse in her paws and has a thought bubble above her head with grey lines through it. It looks like TV static. Image copyrighted- UpsideDownChroniclesMouse has been having trouble with her thoughts. Sometimes she’s too high and hyper, others she is too depressed to move. Sometimes she is neither, but she is always incredibly anxious. So mouse was referred to DBT (dialectical behavioural therapy) and after some assessments and a waiting list she was finally invited to join group and 1:1 therapy.

Mouse was really nervous about coming into the group. In fact she wasn’t even sure if it would help. She was given a cup of tea and then she just listened to the conversations of people coming in and sitting down.A picture of mouse sitting on a blue chair. Inside the outline of mouse's body is grass, a snow topped mountain and a blue sky. A sun is rising behind peaceful mouse's ears. Copyright- UpsideDownChronicles.

The group starts with a Mindfulness exercise. At the sound of a chime the group’s leader began to slowly read a relaxation exercise for everyone to follow. You had to imagine you were a mountain standing strong and confident breathing in and out.

Mindfulness is the main base for Dialectical Behavioural Therapy. This mindfulness begins with the search for the ‘wise mind’. The wise mind is a hybrid between your emotional and reasonable mind. All three minds live inside all of our heads. For example; if you were out shopping your emotional mind would be the one telling you to buy everything you fancy right there and then. Your reasonable mind would say: “It’s nice but you don’t need it.”. The wise mind however would say “Maybe wait until next payday, if you still want it then you could buy it.”. The reason one of the first parts of DBT is trying to find the your wise mind is because it is the wise mind that is best placed to understand situations and make decisions. The wise mind is the most diplomatic and rational of the three minds and therefore decisions are safer when made in wise mind (or wise mouse)’s hands.

A cartoon image of a pink brain, inside the brain are three mice. On the left is emotion mouse crying into tissues, Wise mouse is in a lotus position levitating and looking blissful. On the right is reason mouse, standing with his hands on his hips and wearing sunglasses. Copyright UpsideDownChronicles.
Like in the mountain exercise, guided meditation is a good way to find your wise mind. Ideas to do this include: thinking ‘wise’ as you breathe in, and ‘mind’ as you breathe out and imagining being a snowflake on a lake. Alternatively (mouse’s favourite) you can imagine walking down a spiral staircase- from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. You can stop on the stairs any time, noticing your senses. You can find some more visualisation exercises here or alternatively you could try a children’s mindfulness book to help you start with the basics. The more time we spend in Wise Mind the better.

(Please note that Upside Down Chronicles has no training or therapeutic expertise, only experience. This series ‘Mouse Does DBT’ is to support people going through DBT themselves, or for those interested in the therapy. Please contact your GP if you need further support for mental health problems.)  

Motivational Tattoos 

I’ve been trying out these temporary tattoos from motivationaltattoo.etsy.com


They are reasonably priced and once on skin can last four days! They include affirmations like: “be strong”, “I am enough” and “love yourself”. Great reminders for mindfulness, self care and a good tool to use instead of self harm. They are shaped like plasters and come in colourful, patterned or clear. They are a little fiddly to peel the plastic from- though well worth it! 

I got these as a gift, what a great way to remind someone, or yourself, that you care! 


A Therapist’s Socks of Mindful Colour

I can’t do mindfulness.
I just can’t.

Even the word makes my heart speed up a beat, which I’m pretty sure isn’t the idea. Therapist after therapist, nurse after nurse, have told me to practice mindfulness. Some of the more mindfully inclined therapists I have encountered made me wonder if it was actually healthy.

They would say things like:
“Don’t think about cooking tea tonight. Just think about your feet on the ground.”
“And how many doors were in the room?”
“Ask each individual muscle in your body to move for you as you are doing a task.”
“…Let the happy light rise and merge.”

I once asked a therapist, bald headed and shod conspicuously with walker’s socks and sandals, if he found that things take a very long time to do due to the slow-moving nature of his art. He chuckled and said that the world is too fast paced anyway. If mindfulness was an Olympic sport he would be on the awards podium, but to me it looked like more of a disability than a honed skill. The day to day functioning of my most ‘mindful’ therapists seemed hindered. Each one that I met seemed slower and slower on the uptake. Pauses in therapy became less reflective and more awkward. They would send me a badly typed email once a month with quotes by Ghandi. As someone who likes to be quick on the uptake, I didn’t see the ‘mindful’ way of life to be even remotely attractive. If mindfulness would make me into a slow moving technophobe with bad taste in footwear I certainly didn’t want it.

When I saw colouring books were coming in trend I was pretty pleased. I LOVED colouring when I was younger and the complex patterns of mandalas had kept me busy during my time at Heron unit. I ordered ‘The Mindfulness Colouring Book’ with my mental auto-block of anything to do with the M Word turned on. But then I fell in love with it. It was addictive filling in the lines with my thick and bright felt tips. When I am stressed colouring feels therapeutic, I just mindlessly fill in the lines. I don’t think about it but I also don’t think about anything else as I try to spread colour through the pattern. My mind doesn’t feel ‘full’, it’s emptier.

So I have got through a fair few colouring books. If you want to try it, my two favourites are The Mindfulness Colouring Book and The Art Therapy Colouring Book.

My view on mindfulness could be changing.

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