Crisis Surival Video Part 3

Part Three: Distract Skills -- Emotions and Pushing Away

E is for emotions. The idea is to distract from one emotion by figuring out a way to create another emotion.  So how in the world would you do that?

Well, one really effective way, that you are probably already using anyway, is music. The secret to using music as distraction or crisis survival is to pick your music so that it changes your emotion. You'd be surprized at the people I know who when they're sad, what do they do? They put sad music on. How do you think they feel? Do you think the get less sad?

No.  So the idea is if you feel sad, what kind of emotion would you like to have? Well you probably want to feel energetic or even happy if you could.  So you've got to put some energetic happy music on. 

Now what's happy for one person may not be happy for another.  That's really important. I was once running a group of people who all had drug problems.  And in the groups before that we'd always used music at the end of group to sort of rev everybody up; make them feel better. So in this group, I said 'Alright, let's put the music on'. They said, 'No.  No. No'. I said, 'Why not?' and they said. 'Well every song we like makes us think of using drugs.'  I said, 'Fine.  Good. We're not doing that.  Don't put that on. 

Now if you're feeling really anxious and tense you could try putting music on that's soothing and calming. Sort of soft music. Maybe background music; maybe classical music. That might help.

So think about what kinds of music change your mood.  That's what you want to do.  You want to get that kind of list going and then when you are in a crisis, first what do you do?  Check out how you feel.  Second, pick your music.  Third, put it on.  Fourth, make sure it's loud enough that you can hear it, even low background music. 

What else could you do?  Well, you could try reading. The most important thing though about reading is that you've got to find a book that's emotionally involving. No newspapers, no magazines. Nothing scholarly. Nothing informational. You can't read the encyclopedia. You've got to find a story that's emotionally involving.

So it all depends on what's emotionally involving. For me it's spy stories. So I... if I really find myself worrying, kind of in a crisis, and I'm just making things worse by all the stuff I'm thinking, I'll often just get up and try to read a book. But I try to pick a book I can become engaged in.  I get all involved in the story and when I close the book, I try to keep my mind in the story. So I try to keep that emotion somewhat excitement.

What else could you do?  You're trying to get another emotion going. Well one way is to try to find some humour. I did that once.  I was driving cross country and I was driving all the way from Washington DC to Seattle. So I had to drive across the middle of the country. So I was thinking as I drove across the middle of the country I figured I was going to be really bored because, you know, what do they have in the middle of the country?  That's how I was thinking at that time in my life. I figured, 'Alright, they're going to have cows and cows and cows'. And I thought that's not going to be interesting. I'm going to get really bored so I'm going to take my comedy records, put them on tapes - you can tell it was records- this was quite a while ago. Put them on tapes then I was going to listen to them as I was going across the middle of the country when I had nothing to look at but cows.

So, as it turns out, going across the middle of the country turned out to be really interesting.  And I actually didn't listen to my records.  But, after I got across the middle of the country, I came to mountains.  You know how sometimes when you go up mountains and you can be on the side of the road that's near the mountain or you could be at the side of the road that's right near the ledge?  Now if you're on the side of the road near the mountain, you're not going to be so scared.  But if you have fear of heights - I have fear of heights - and you're driving your car on the side that's on the ledge, you're going to get afraid. 

Well, take it from me, I not only got afraid, I got panicked.  I kept seeing the edge so I started thinking that I was going to go over the ledge.  I couldn't even concentrate.  There was nothing I could do.  What was I going to do? You just can't stop your car and get out - I thought of doing this though.  Stopping it and getting out and saying, 'I'm too scared to drive! Would you drive my car?'  But I didn't think that would work out too well.

So, I pulled my car over to the side, they're turned out to be a little indentation where you could take your car. So I pulled my car over and I thought, 'I've got to get through this.' So what did I do?  I put my comedy tapes on.  And I started listening to comedy tapes.  Now I had finally got myself back over onto the road, I'm listening to the comedy tapes - they took my mind off the edge of the highway where I could have fallen off. And I started, well I didn't start laughing actually, but I did start smiling. And sure enough, I got through the drive.

Now that's a really good example of crisis survival skills. You can do it with humour.

What else? Well, you could go to emotional movies.  Movies are like reading though, if you're going to go to an emotional movie, make sure you don't go to a move that's going to intensify the emotion you've got.  So if you go to a movie, don't go to a sad movie if you feel sad.  Don't go to a love story if someone just broke up with you. 

Pushing Away
What's the next letter?  P.  P is for pushing away.  It's really a good set of skills to do when you just can't cope. This is really hard. So I'm going to give you a couple of things to do that can make it a lot easier. 

The first step is get yourself a piece of paper. Get something to write with. The second step is to make a list: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5... You're going to want to make a list of the main problems that are on your mind right now.  So for example you might say, 'One: my mother. Two: my bills. Three: none likes me at work.'  And so on. Ok.  So that's the first thing.  You make your list - put a number beside each one of them.  Alright. 

And the second thing is you go back over your list, one at a time, and for each item on your list, you ask yourself the following questions. Question 1:  Can I do anything about that right now?  And question 2:  Is this a good time to work on it? Now if the answer to both those is yes, I can work on this problem now and this is a good time to work on it, ok, skip pushing away. Go to the first rule of crisis survival - solve that problem now.

However, lots of times you'll say no, I can't do anything now, it's midnight, what can I do about my mother? Nothing. Is this a good time to work on it?  This is not a good time to work on my work problem because I need sleep.  If I work on it now I'll be exhausted tomorrow.  So if you say no to both then what you do is put a check mark next to it.

Say... let's say you've got the first one, my mother, you've got that checked.  Now you go to the next problem.  And you ask the very same questions. You say, 'Is there anything I can do about this problem now and is this a good time to work on it?'  And if you say no to either one of those, you put a check by it.  And you just go one down your list. Now the idea is to use the first rule of crisis survival strategies on any problem on your list where the answer to both questions is yes.  And where the answer to either one of those questions is no, then you can use the pushing away skill.

So what is the pushing away skill? What you do is you go through each one of the items on your list and in your mind you imagine picking the problem up, putting that in a box and putting it up on the shelf. You want to do this for each one separately. 

The trick is you're trying to send a message to your brain that says, 'Brain, cut it out.  Stop dealing with this problem. Put this on the shelf.'  You're really trying to send a message to yourself that says, 'This is not effective.  This is ineffective. This won't work. I have nothing to gain by working on this problem now.' And when that's true, pushing away can be a really good skill.
So that's the skill. It's blocking, censoring, shutting off, putting away, getting rid of.  But remember you can only do that, this only works when you can convince your mind that it's not a good idea, that you can't do anything if you work on it now.  Because if your brain keeps thinking that somehow it's going to get somewhere with this, you're going to actually solve the problem if you keep thinking about it, you won't get it on the shelf.  It just won't work. Alright. So that's that skill.  Shall we go onto the next?

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