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Another exasperating week at DBT group… A few of the newbies seem to have dropped out, though occasional absences make that hard to assess.

The most annoying person is clearly sticking with it, though. We do icebreakers at the start of sessions for the first few weeks after new people are added, and the Wilted Violet brought in a whole list of icebreakers to give to the group leaders. Such a suck-up! (There I go judging again…) She doesn’t quite grasp the concepts, which makes me even more irritated with her.

This week was the final review on core mindfulness. Seriously, I don’t know how I’m going to stand doing that module over and over. We watched a video (on a VCR tape, no less!) of Marsha Linehan Herself talking about the three “how” skills: non-judgmentally, one-mindfully, and effectively. My eyelids got very, very heavy. It was all I could do to avoid falling asleep – so no doodling this week. I was impatient with both the additional content review and the dull presentation thereof.

However, Marsha did go over the “effectively” concept a little. It’s more about knowing and working toward goals than anything else, which is a good way to temper a reaction or assess a situation.

The more interesting part was the overview of the interpersonal effectiveness module. The sections for the module include:

  • Attending to Relationships
  • Balancing Priorities vs. Demands
  • Balancing the Wants-To-Shoulds
  • Building Mastery and Self-Respect

For me, the first and last sections are gimmes. The other two sections surprised me a bit; these are what I consider work-life balance issues, rather than interpersonal issues. I can see how the ideas would be parallel. If I think about it, my work really does take on personhood in terms of the way I relate to it. It’s not about the expectations or demands of others so much as it’s the demand of the career itself and my own expectations for myself.

Everything on the Priorities-Demands overview list is stuff with which I know I struggle. The bullet points are obvious, known ways to deal with that imbalance. Things I’ve tried a million times with little success to date. Maybe this will offer some other ways to approach those problems. I can only hope.

Things I want to do: finish projects, spiff up the house a bit, play outside, cook good food.

Wants-Shoulds is harder for me. For years, I’ve focused almost exclusively on the should-do items. That’s just what grad school is. Lately I’ve been tempering that with more attention to my wants, desperately trying to avoid another episode of burnout-depression-fail-fail-fail.

At the moment, I feel like I’m being self-indulgent with respect to fulfilling my wants, but at the same time, I suspect that they are actually really normal. I denied myself these things for years in pursuit of a goal, and now I feel like somehow I don’t need or deserve them. Things like weekends and evenings off from work, for example. And I can’t help worrying that this attitude will sink me as an academic, but I also need to keep working to maintain a balance. So maybe this section of the module will help me think differently about it – though not in interpersonal context, more like a workaholic context.

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