Do you ever catch yourself saying, “This pandemic is so unfair, I can’t see some of my loved ones?” Do you ever notice thoughts such as, “Am doing the right thing going to a gathering during a Pandemic?” When you notice yourself questioning if things are fair or unfair or if they are right or wrong, try to ask yourself instead “Is this effective and in line with my goals?” Depending on your situation and what your goals are, sometimes it is more effective to opt out of a gathering and other times it may be more effective to attend. 

In DBT, we teach six different mindfulness skill — three skills focus on “WHAT we can do to be mindful” and the other three skills focus on “HOW we go about being mindful”. Today, I will focus on a specific “HOW” skill: EFFECTIVELY 

Acting effectively is doing what works in the moment in order to meet your goals. Marsha Linenhan talks about how it is the OPPOSITE of “cutting off your nose to spite your face”. For example, if you yell at a hostess who says you don’t have a reservation (even though you know you called and made one), it may make you feel good in the moment. Actually getting a table while keeping calm (which requires using your skills/tolerating the urge to yell) would likely make you feel much better! 

How to act Effectively:

  • Know your goal or objective
    • Not knowing what we want can make effectiveness hard
  • Know and react to the actual situation
    • Stay away from “shoulds” and react to the actual situation
  • Know what will and won’t work to achieve goals
    • Sometimes asking for help or instructions may be the most effective choice
  • Play by the rules
    • For example, most establishments still require you to wear a mask in order to enter. If you were to not follow the rules and not wear a mask going into a grocery store, are they going to let you shop and buy groceries? (Your goal in this situation is to buy your groceries for your thanksgiving dinner–wearing a mask in the store gets you closer to that goal!)
  • Be savvy about people
    • Notice where people are, not where they “should be” 
  • Sacrifice a principle to achieve a goal when necessary
  • Let go of willfulness and “sitting on your hands”
  • Notice the “shoulds” and “have to’s” and replace them with “is this effective?” or “I choose to do…”

Challenge yourself this week by picking at least one effectiveness skill and notice the impact this has on both you and your interpersonal relationships.

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