Tag Archives: Marsha M. Linehan

Radical Acceptance


Freedom (Photo credit: Josef Grunig)

Many of us spend our lives wishing for something that just isn’t. We want to change the past. We want to change another person. We get so caught up in wishing things were different, that we have no energy left to change the things that we can. When our thoughts are consumed with “why me” or “life is so unfair” we stay stuck and miss out on “what is” and “what can be.”

Marsha Linehan, founder of dialectical behavior therapy, uses radical acceptance to help herself and her clients. Radical acceptance is an acceptance that comes from deep within and is free of judgement. It is not saying that something is good or bad, it is saying it just is. When you radically accept something, you stop complaining about it and start doing something to improve your life. Linehan uses the purple room as an example. Continue reading

Rely on Pure Emotion- Not so fast!

Can your emotion lead you astray when overwhelmed by intense feelings?  Perhaps.  It may not be a good idea to follow your emotion if it means following it blindly while the logical part of your brain is shut down.  When you enter an emotional hurricane where intense emotions totally take over, the logical part of your brain shuts down and all reasoning, common sense, and problem solving go out the window.

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Are your “wants” and “shoulds” in balance?

You and your relationships depend on it.

If you only do what you want to do, you will get exactly what you do not want. -Kristin Barton Cuthriell

Marsha Linehan, founder of dialectical behavior therapy, stresses the need to balance our “wants” and “shoulds.”  Dr. Linehan suggests that we look at what we do because we “want” to do it and enjoy doing it, and examine what we do because it has to be done and we “should” do it.  She urges us to try to keep the number of each in balance.

When the balance is tipped too far on the “wants” side, other important areas in our life will be neglected including our most important relationships.  When life becomes all about us and what we want, the end result will be exactly what we do not want.

When the balance is tipped too far on the “shoulds” side, we will become grumpy and resentful, which will also negatively impact our closest relationships.  We will come to resent all that we do and will most likely take it out on those around us.

Balance is key. 

Try this.

Make a list of all the things that you want to do and a list of all of the things that you should be doing.  Then strive to keep the number balanced even if you have to ask others for help or turn down unwanted requests.  Your health and your relationships are worth it.

Suggested areas of your life to examine:

Time with partner, children, extended family, friends, spirituality, job requirements, finances, home improvement, exercise, diet, recreation, hobbies, time on computer/cell phone/social media, errands, household duties, yard, charity, meditation, doctors appointments, vacations………………..

Take some time to prioritize and balance so that your scale doesn’t tip too far in either direction.


Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan. 1993 The Guilford Press.

Steps to Reduce Vulnerability to Extreme Emotional Mind

Several years ago, I was working as a therapist in a day treatment facility for substance abusers.  HALT was one of the relapse strategies that was taught.  HALT is an acronym for the four words hungry, angry, lonely, and tired. When a person struggling with an addiction is in recovery and becomes hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, he or she is more likely to relapse back into the addiction. However, being aware of this and setting up a plan to avoid becoming overly hungry, angry, lonely, or tired, can reduce the risk of relapse. It is about risk management.

The same is true when it comes to our emotions.

Are you a hot head? Do you often lose your temper? Are you prone to depression? Do you have a history of lashing out at yourself or others when you become upset? Have your emotional reactions caused you regret?

Marsha Linehan, founder of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy, created strategies for reducing painful emotions. One of her strategies is to reduce vulnerability to extreme emotional mind. (It is your extreme emotional mind that often gets you into trouble.) Similar to HALT, that is typically used with substance abusers, the acronym PLEASE MASTERY can be used to reduce the risk of emotional blow out.

Take a look below.

Treat PhysicaL illness: Make and keep doctor’s appointments

Balanced Eating: Yes, it will make you feel better.

No mood-Altering drugs: A drugged mind has a difficult time being a wise mind.

Balanced Sleep: When you are tired you are more likely to explode.

Exercise: This is anger management and an excellent antidepressant all rolled up into one. If you are not consistently getting active, you have no idea what you are missing.

MASTERY:  What can you master? Accomplishing a goal, no matter how small, does wonders for the mood.

*I would like to add prayer, meditation, and healthy communication to Linehan’s PLEASE MASTERY.

Do your part, without relying on a pill alone.

Do your part, no matter how difficult, to reduce your vulnerability to your extreme emotional mind. There are many people who do not keep doctor’s appointments, eat junk food all day long, stay up half the night watching tv, and get little to no exercise, and expect a small pill or pills to fix them. It just doesn’t work this way. You must do the work it takes to feel better. Depression can zap your energy and your motivation, making it extremely difficult to do anything. This is when you will really have to push yourself to do what you know is in your best interest rather than what you feel like doing.

Some conditions may require medication management, but no conditions require medication alone. Please consult your doctor. This article is written for your information only and is not medical advice.

Emotional Regulation: Getting Your Emotions Out of the Driver’s Seat

Written by Kristin Barton Cuthriell, M.Ed., MSW, LCSW

How do you handle distress?  Do you remain in control, or do you react in destructive ways?  Your emotions are valid; but you, and only you, are responsible for your reactions.  No one made you do it. 

When you become angry, lonely, frustrated, impatient, or hurt, do you have a pattern of acting out in a way that usually results in regret? Continue reading