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DBT Skills: The Calm Yo Tits Edition

Sorry for the slight break in the series friends. I’ve been in the process of moving to Ireland, starting a Master’s program, deciding I hated everything about it, and then making the decision to move home again, which has taken up a bit of my time and mental energy. But we’re back now! If you’ll recall, the last post explained “DEAR MAN”, skills for how to make a request or set a boundary. Hopefully you’ve had some time to practice that, and now we’re on to the skill for interpersonal effectiveness.

This week’s skill is GIVE. Once again we have an acronym because DBT cannot get over its love of acronyms. A great breakdown of this skill is located at The Roanne Program, but I’m gonna give you all the patented Skepchick version. The G in GIVE stands for gentle, which is basically exactly what it sounds like. When you’re trying to maintain a relationship, it is most effective to act with a gentle manner: don’t shout or throw things, be patient, don’t be manipulative, and try to portray in your body language that you are non-threatening. This doesn’t mean being a pushover: you still get to set your boundaries with the DEAR MAN skill, but it does mean that you don’t have to escalate the emotional tone of a situation. The people you are in relationships with deserve to be treated with care, and gentleness is a good way to do that.

I is for act Interested (these are horrible acronyms, who made these up?). At first glance this sounds fake, but it doesn’t mean to just pretend to be interested: it means use your mindfulness skills to stay in the moment and actually listen to what the other person is saying. This covers a lot of basic conversational techniques. Make eye contact, don’t interrupt, allow both parties equal (relatively) speaking time. This one could really be boiled down to “show up and don’t be a dick”.

V is for validate. This is a bit more complicated than the previous two as there are lots of things that we think are validating but aren’t actually. Validating someone is letting them know that their thoughts, feelings, and perspectives are real and important. It can be as simple as responding to a complaint with “yeah, that really sucks”, or as serious as reassuring someone that their feelings aren’t bad. Be nonjudgmental with another person. Oftentimes we mistake things like giving advice, relating to someone, or problem solving for validation, but they’re actually quite distinct. When someone says “I feel horrible” and your response is to try to solve their problem immediately, you don’t give them the space to have that emotion first. Letting them know that yeah, it is a bad situation, and yeah, their feelings are hard, and you’re here to listen goes a really long way.

And finally we have E for easy manner, aka calm yo tits. Smile a little bit, if appropriate be joking, don’t harass or demand. Just chill out and try to be laid back when you’re working on your relationship. Bonus points for compliments or kindness. Just be a nice human being ok?

GIFcalmyourtits

Most of these skills come down to actually listening, not being a dick, and calming yo tits when things are hard. If you can manage those three things, your relationships will probably improve greatly or just continue being awesome if they already are.

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Olivia

Olivia

Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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