PASEO Program Adventure—Day 31: Huanchaco y El Porvenir, Peru

This morning (last Monday), we started the second half of our program with a class on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT, or Terapia Contactual Dialéctica in Spanish). DBT believes that people are doing the best they can, but that we can always do better. And if you really think about it, we can do better in any given aspect of our lives- especially in areas we are trying to work on. Trough acceptance, mindfulness, and distress tolerance, the aim is to attain emotional regulation and interpersonal effectiveness.

A big tenant of DBT is Mindfulness, which centers on paying attention in the present moment without any judgments. While at first glance, we may think this is a simple concept, imagine how quick we are to judge different situations we face on a daily basis. The trick here is to put these judgments aside and observe the present moment we are living in and experiencing, both willingly and willfully.

We learned about three different types of minds, so to speak that are important to understand- really in any area of life if you find yourself communicating with others. Some people think with a rational mind (often times parents), others think with an emotional mind (often times adolescents), and others think with a wise mind. None of these are bad or worse than any other, but it’s important to understand that we each make decisions differently. Not everybody thinks alike, and in general, if we can try to understand this concept, we may find that we can work together more easily to come to agreements and find solutions.

After class, we had our weekly meeting with a group of local women and family members in El Porvenir that I spoke about in prior posts. Each week, two students from the program are responsible for teaching the group members relaxation and emotional regulation techniques for them to utilize at any given moment and teach others in their community. This week’s topic focused on effective communication, because often times, this is a skill that each of us can improve upon.

Think about it. How many times do you get home and have your parent/child/significant other “nag” you about something you did or didn’t do? And how many times do we do the same to those around us? While we may like to think that accusations, assumptions, and commands are part of effective communication, unfortunately they aren’t.

In the group, we discussed ways to empower the participants to express themselves more openly, because often times they may not have the opportunity to do so.

Effective communication is as simple as: 1. Describe the situation, 2. Express how the situation makes you feel, 3. Recognize the good intentions or feelings of the other person, 4. Ask/Make the request of what you would like the other person to do.

If we can feel validated for our effort or intentions as opposed to feeling guilty for possibly making a mistake or forgetting something, we’ll likely try that much harder and work with the other person to get the job done as opposed to arguing back and shutting down.

Even though these steps sound beyond simple, it takes practice to build effective communication, but it’s a worthwhile skill that can take us very far in any kind of relationship.

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May This Be The Year

May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to grow
     Mentally,
          Spiritually,
               Emotionally.
May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to learn
     As much as we possibly can.
May this be the year in which we allow ourselves to love
     And be loved.
May this be the year in which we learn to forgive
     Others,
          And ourselves.
May this be the year in which we seek new adventures
     By putting ourselves out there more often.
May this be the year in which we follow our dreams
     And reach for the stars.
May this be the year in which we learn to surpass rejection
     And continue on our path to greatness.
May this be the year in which we share special moments with loved ones
     And cherish such memories for years to come.
May this be the year in which we learn to persist
     Bravely,
          Valiantly,
               And courageously.
May this be the year in which we learn to share our voices and listen to those who have yet to be heard
     By advocating,
          Caring,
               And helping our fellow human beings.
May this be the year in which we devote ourselves to a worthwhile cause
     And help those in need.
May this be the year in which we never forget to be thankful and appreciative
     Each and every day.
May this be the year in which we shine, and encourage others to do the same
     Brighter than ever before.

Happy New Year, and may it be blessed!

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