Doing Different

February 14, 2011

Lately, I have become somewhat of an insomniac. This has been slightly problematic. I stay up all night and sleep all day. This has taken a toll on a lot of things in my life… like school, social interaction, and my mood. The trick is returning to normal and doing different.

In Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, you are challenged to do different to find a balance between your emotional mind and your reasonable mind to achieve a state of wise mind which takes the two minds and finds a middle ground. This is often difficult because doing different is very challenging. It challenges us to take our willfulness and turn it into willingness. Now, I do not know about you, but I am stubborn and also am a creature of habit, so it is very hard to do different.

For me, waking up in the morning is something that often seems impossible. I often find myself waking up to my alarms and turning them off only to find myself under my covers and asleep five minutes later. I am usually pretty willful and it causes me to sleep well into the day. In an attempt to different, I try to lay in bed for a few minutes while my alarm is going off and then I force myself to get out of bed to turn it off. Now, usually this does not work no matter how hard I try. I let my willfulness get in the way and give into my desire to sleep for a few extra hours which sometimes leads to sleeping the day away and feeds the vicious cycle of staying up all night and sleeping all day. Doing this affects my performance in class because I often miss my classes. It affects my social interaction because I end up isolating myself the whole day, staying in my bed. This affects my mood because if you isolate when you experience depression, it feeds that sense of loneliness.

The challenge within this is to get out of bed (doing different). Before you can do different, you have to identify what leads to your willfulness by doing a chain analysis, which is taught in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. Even if you do not participate in this therapy, it is something that is extremely useful. To do this, you first have to start with identifying the problem behavior, in my case it is not getting up in the morning. Then, you have to take your problem behavior and figure out what leads to that behavior. For me, this is usually letting stressful events overwhelm me and avoiding these events. After determining what leads to your behavior, you have to identify the immediate and eventual consequences and make a plan to do different.

For me, accountability has been something that has been pretty effective. I usually get annoyed when someone calls me out and tells me what they see me doing. My annoyed feeling motivates me to do different. When this does not work, which is sometimes the case, I take that annoyed feeling and find a way to do that behavior in spite of that person, which is pretty willful.

Now, my challenge to myself, as well as to others, is to find a problem behavior and find a way to do different. Obviously, doing different this morning will be a hefty challenge because it is 3:40 AM and I am still awake. Let the games begin.

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