The Time to Give

Following a much needed vacation, I returned home to mounds of unfinished work and a serious mess of a work schedule. After several days of struggle and some minor jetlag, I finally feel equipped to pick up where I left off. This post serves two purposes: it reinforces my understanding of a valuable skill, and it is a call to action of sorts.

During my most recent counseling session, I expanded upon the DEAR MAN process that I was taught previously. DEAR MAN, in case you need refreshing, is a DBT skill that gives people a checklist of sorts to follow when asking for something. This skill, on it’s own, can help us to feel prepared during job interviews or when asking for a raise. However, it may also come across as a bit… brash.

When you enter a situation in which you must be persuasive, but also hope to maintain a relationship, DEAR MAN can be framed with another skill called GIVE. (That’s in the title, guys). GIVE stands for (be) Gentle, (act) Interested, Validate, and Easy manner. While you’re making assertions, it is still possible to speak calmly and be mindful of things like body language and facial expressions. You should actively listen to what the other person has to say. You can validate the other person’s feelings by asking questions, summarizing their points, relating your own experiences, or predicting how a situation might make them feel. A soft approach, with a smile, may get you what you want and keep the relationship intact.

With this lesson came a challenge from my therapist. He gave me two tasks to select from, in order to help me become more comfortable with asking for things. The first option was to go to a restaurant, customize a menu item, and then (get this) SEND IT BACK. The other choice was to go to a shoe store where someone has to get the shoes for me. I am to try on several pairs of shoes, then leave without buying any. What I will choose, who knows. But I am aware that change can’t come if I don’t take action.

Upon returning from vacation, I rediscovered my passion for helping people. It started with just small things. I’d hold the door open for someone, or pick up something that someone dropped. I bought a printer for my grandparents, and helped them set it up without expecting anything in return. (I helped with a laptop too, and that was a nightmare). For the first time in a long time, I’m looking forward to working this week. These are all things that used to make me feel good. I’m finally starting to get some of that back.

*A quick update on my therapy status. Apparently, I’m a quick learner, and I’m now only going to sessions every other week (instead of weekly). I’m now focused solely on emotion regulation and interpersonal skills, rather than the anxiety mitigation stuff. Medication has been proposed, and I’ll likely be writing about that in the near future. I’ll be my best me soon enough!

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