I find the new energy efficient lightbulbs an interesting phenomenon. I know equipping my house with these slow starters is wise and better than their predecessors. Then again, I miss the immediate relief from a fully lit room when I flick the switch, particularly if frantically searching for something from room to room! Lightbulbs remind me of many moments in my life when I have learned something new about myself, others and the world around me.
Therapy is like moving through a house from room to room with a series of lightbulb moments lighting the way forward. Here are some that have illuminated my path through Dialectical Behaviour Therapy:
1. No matter how distressing and painful they may be, my feelings cannot kill me.
2. No amount of waiting for therapy guarantees or promises that the therapy I am awaiting for will solve all my problems.
3. No one person or therapy can meet all my expectations and needs.
4. Even the best therapist/friend/lover cannot undo my past suffering and its wounds.
5. There are therapies which can help me to manage my emotions.
6. I need to participate fully in any treatment or therapy in order for it to become effective for me.
7. I am responsible for using as many of the skills as fit my life and needs as I can, in order to live a life that is meaningful to me.
8. The end of therapy and discharge from mental health services is only the beginning of making use of the skills I have learned.
9. Just because a skill works for me, does not mean it will definitely work for everyone.
10. Even though new skills may feel difficult and strange, they are worth giving a go, because everything I have used to keep going so far in my life, hasn't helped for long (if at all).
11. Change doesn't happen all at once or overnight.
12. If I give the skills time, they will help me to control my emotions, rather than have my emotions control me.
13. I can never overestimate the time I need to spend using and practising my skills. I may be able to learn what the skills are in the space of a year, but on average it takes 10,000 hours of practice to master any skill or talent.
14. I can learn to take risks with relationships and friendships, when I don't fear the emotional impact of any hurdles or problems.
15. Mind reading is not a skill that I or any person possesses. I cannot know what they are thinking and them not being able to read my mind is not a sign of their lack of love or care for me.
16. Feelings, like waves, rise and fall in intensity. If I can live with them for a moment, in time they will ease and fade.
17. Difficult feelings I experience in the here and now are much more bearable if I don't allow them to connect with a stream of pain and suffering from my past. I am only expected to find the skills and strength to deal with today's emotions.
18. The fact that I am still here, means that I have committed to engage in the world and relationships around me today.
19. I have had the strength and courage to survive my past. Whatever challenges therapy holds for me pales in comparison.
20. I am worth caring for. I may be the product of my past experiences, I do not have to be a prisoner of them.