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March 2018



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Be Nice

Real Help.

I think I have made a lot of progress in the past few years.

The Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), "Crucial Conversations" (2002), and the book group really helped me start dealing with my emotions. Knowing where they were coming from and figuring out what to do with them.

I read the book "Emotional Intelligence" when it first came out (1995). I could see from the book that my EI was very low but there was no advice on what to do about it. I had been in therapy off and on since high school with very little effect. DBT was the first therapeutic technique that actually helped. The book "Crucial Conversations" is all about teaching adults simple strategies to improve Emotional Intelligence. It's the sort of advice you can write on cue cards and pull out in meetings to keep you on track.

Some programs work for some people but don't work for others. I have noticed a tendency if a program doesn't work, to blame the individual for "not trying hard enough". Alcoholics Anonymous for instance has a saying "The program works if you work the program". Actually, despite AA being resistant to testing, there is some evidence that their program works for fewer people then other programs.

I have tried lots of programs that didn't "click". A therapist would suggest something and I would look inside and see that it just didn't fit. I wanted to get better, and I would ask myself if I was just resisting for some unknown reasons, "just not trying". But when I was in DBT something literally clicked I could feel it working. When I read "Crucial Conversations" something clicked and I could see improvement.

This gives me strength to say that it is not my fault other programs haven't worked for me. It is not something that is wrong with me, it is something that is wrong with them. If I could just find the right program, that would work for me, I could change. I know because I did find one program that did help.

Now I read the ACE study about how childhood events can lead to adult health problems and it is just like "Emotional Intelligence". I can see the problem but there isn't any solution.

The programs to prevent ACE effects are all aimed at children and talk about building "resilience" in children. But like "Emotional Intelligence" I can't find any programs that teach "resilience" for adults. DBT has a "Distress Tolerance" module but it is not much different than the coping with anxiety books I have read. The effectiveness of these coping strategies are limited. They haven't "clicked" for me. I need something like "Crucial Conversations" for emotional resilience.

I'm not saying there is no advice out there for building resilience. I'm saying that the advice that is out there is bad. When I read "10 ways to build resilience" I don't feel an inner click that tells me I found a solution. I literally start crying at the impossibility of ever being able to follow those instructions. I mean "Maintain a hopeful outlook" what kind of advice is that?! How is that different from saying "Cheer up". It's not much better than saying "Develop resilience" it sounds like advice but it doesn't really tell me anything or help me at all. You might as well ask me to "Begin levitating". It's not my fault I can't start suddenly floating in midair. You aren't helping me by telling me I could do it if I just tried.

I suspect that the lists of "10 ways to build resilience" are actually "10 things that you will be able to do if you have resilience".

Agatha Fry, she made a pie
And Christopher John helped bake it
Christopher John, he mowed the lawn
And Agatha Fry helped rake it

Now, Zachary Zugg took out the rug
And Jennifer Joy helped shake it
Then Jennifer Joy, she made a toy
And Zachary Zugg helped break it

And some kind of help is the kind of help
That helping's all about
And some kind of help is the kind of help
We all can do without


Figuring out what to do and managing to do it is always the hard part. :/
Yeah, finding the right tools is very hard. (AA's program scares me and seems unhelpful, though it does work for some.)