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  1. #1
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    The Cycle of Suffering

    The Dynamics of Emotional Mind and It’s Role in Driving Destructive Coping Behavior: When Emotional Mind Drives…We Wreck Out…and Our Lives Become a Total Wreck
    by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D., The DBT-CBT Workbook blog

    This hand-out addresses the dynamics of Emotional Mind and its role in driving destructive emotion-driven coping behaviors (e.g., substance abuse, aggression, eating disorders, etc.)

    The “Cycle of Suffering” - when we respond to emotional pain and life problems in destructive, emotion-driven ways, we end up with new problems and increasingly severe old problems…and we feel worse than before. If we respond to this new level of pain and problems in destructive ways, our pain and problems will continue to intensify and multiply. Because we’re not working through our pain or resolving our problems, our emotional baggage piles up. The trauma from the past weighs us down in the present and intensifies present misery. What could have been temporary pain and problems has turned into long-term pain and suffering. The only way to get the cycle of suffering to stop…is to stop it. We can stop our suffering by stopping our destructive coping behavior. We must turn on Rational Mind to “think through before we do” and we must “follow through” with Wise Mind problem-solving and life-enhancing coping behaviors.

    ---------- Post added at 02:34 AM ---------- Previous post was at 02:15 AM ----------

    Why We Relapse: Desperate for Peace in a World of Emotional Turmoil
    by Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D., The DBT-CBT Workbook blog

    ...When we come to and realize what just happened and are faced with the consequences of our behavior…and the unresolved problem…we feel bad again…and then we may continue destructive coping….chasing “peace in the moment”…When we use destructive coping behaviors to deal with our pain and problems, we enter the Cycle of Suffering. Our problems multiply and intensity and we go through a period of increased pain and suffering as a result.

    I believe most people use destructive coping behaviors to some degree (e.g., overworking, oversleeping, physical aggression, yelling, throwing fits, being rude and ugly, ‘always speaking our mind”, lying, gambling, obsessive exercise, cheating, sleeping around, codependency, procrastination, smoking, prescription meds, alcohol, overeating or eating the desired “poison foods” for us, being hyperreligious, narcissistic….and the list goes on and on.) I actually tell my patients that it’s “normal” to be “abnormal” and entirely abnormal to be so perfectly normal and in control of ourselves. We all do some destructive coping behaviors and the healthier or more in recovery we are…the less we do these things…and the more we work VERY hard to stay in control of our emotions, behaviors, and our addictions of choice….and the more we choose life-enhancing coping behaviors instead.

    I’m obviously very passionate about this…it’s one of those, “been there, done that, still doing that…having to fight for recovery at times to stay in control…and not to get too far out of control” type of things for me. I believe that when we are in recovery…we remain “works in progress.” Sometimes it’s a daily battle and sometimes, an occasional battle. We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behaviors…or to certainly think about doing them!

    We’re emotional critters and creatures of habit…and when we hurt or are feeling desperate and “out-of-control”…we tend to fall back into old patterns of relief-seeking behavior…or to certainly think about doing them!”

    And you know the more we think about doing them…the more likely we are to finally do them. That’s because the tension is building…we want…and we won’t allow ourselves to have…and we want…we tell ourselves “NO”…and we want…and we’re tired of the pain, problems, tension, and frustration…and we become desperate for relief and peace…that we finally do what we keep trying not to do…and we relapse. Have you “been there, done that?” Have you been through this struggle? It’s a battle of the minds, Emotional Mind vs. Rational Mind and Wise Mind. It’s a battle of wills…willingness vs. willfulness. Which recovery skills do you use to get through the “fixing to relapse” moment? Do you still have these moments?

    I believe that one of our major recovery tasks is to learn ways to keep our Emotional Mind in control and to tame our Emotional Mind when it is getting out-of-control. That’s my biggest recovery task…and it’s always a battle of the mind states and a battle of will. Sometimes, I grow tired of the battle and dealing with my emotional, willful self. At those tired, weak moments, I remind myself….”Mel, what do you want…peace and stability or chaos and pain?” Isn’t it horrible that you have to parent yourself even when you’re a grown-up!?

    Melanie Gordon Sheets, Ph.D. is the author of “Out-of-Control: A Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) – Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) Workbook for Getting Control of Our Emotions and Emotion-Driven Behavior

  2. #2
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    Re: The Cycle of Suffering

    An excerpt from Dr. Sheet's workbook:

    Another reason we prefer Destructive Coping Behaviors is that they tend to last longer than positive ones. Many drugs provide hours of relief. Pulling a drunk can last 12-24 hours. A sexual encounter can provide hours of pleasure...and even longer if they stick around afterwards. The problem with many positive coping behaviors is they only work for as long as we're doing them! Ever said, “That was fun. Now what?” …

    Many destructive coping behaviors are “one-shot deals.”
    We do one thing and we feel alright for awhile. Live-Enhancing Coping Behaviors are different. They provide short-term relief and we have to do several in a row to maintain relief. For instance, we're not done with positive coping activities after volleyball. We'll need something else planned for the rest of the evening to maintain our gains! This is why recovery programs urge us to stay busy from morning to night!

  3. #3
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    Re: The Cycle of Suffering

    Stay busy from morning to night?....

    I got mad at my therapist once because I was really struggling and was having suicidal thoughts and he suggested I work more hours at my job, even thought maybe I should get a second job. He told me to stay as busy as possible. I didn't understand why he said that at the time...but now I do.

    It's true that destructive coping behaviors last longer.It's easy to get high or drunk, cause you stay that way for hours. And it doesn't take much effort or thought to get that way either, it only takes a few minutes. What's hard now though, is keeping myself occupied, finding things to do that don't take alot of time,thought or effort.

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