Page 43 - BusinessWest October 13, 2021
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Dan Millman runs a program that helps people take control of self- destructive tendencies.
cut themselves without acting on it,” he said. “In that way, we are asking them to step into the pain. It’s easier said than done, and it’s really challenging.”
The point is to show the client they confronted the moment and got through it. A distraction
like a funny video or throwing themselves into
an activity can also help, he added. “Once they
are ready for the next step, they can use some of the other skills to influence the emotions that are underneath the urge and begin to think differently about it.”
Support Systems
The pandemic looked like it was going to sub- side this past spring as warm weather arrived and many people were getting vaccinated, but then the Delta variant reared its head, and vaccine lev- els plateaued. While that created frustration for everyone, it was particularly hard on people with pre-existing conditions related to anxiety and depression.
Navarro said the confusion of starting to feel safe, and then, suddenly, not so safe, can lead to hopelessness, a huge risk factor in suicidal ten- dencies. A person who feels hopeless will often make vague statements such as “I can’t do this anymore,” “I don’t want to be here,” and “this is too hard,” she noted.
“I talk with people about what they can and cannot control. Though we can’t control events outside, we can control ourselves and our responses to those events.”
During the pandemic, social media can either
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  assertiveness skills so clients can ask for what they want, better address their needs, and set limits when necessary.
“The point of DBT is to help people feel like their life is worth living and has improved,” he explained. “It’s not a good outcome to have some- one stay alive while still suffering the torment they have been feeling.”
Relieving the torment starts with allowing the client to accept they have suicidal thoughts. In this context, acceptance means acknowledge- ment, not approval.
“When someone has suicidal thoughts, it’s a sign to them that something is wrong in their lives
that needs to change,” he said. “Acknowledging those thoughts can actually be protective for the person.”
Another area of DBT involves stepping into painful emotions. Millman explained how human instincts try to protect us and avoid things that make us feel anxious, so we tend to put them off. Avoiding a difficult conversation is a good exam- ple of something that needs to be done, but cre- ates anxiety before we do it.
One way clients deal with emotional pain is to engage in self-harming behaviors such as cutting themselves.
“We ask the client to just sit with the urge to
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