Cookies!

Recently we posted a page about everything I want and how I might connive to get some of it using the strategies of DBT interpersonal effectiveness.  And yes, I know, these skills are not supposed to be manipulative or conniving. Remember the old saying, though: “figures don’t lie but liars figure.” These skills don’t connive but connivers like me have been known to take advantage of a skill or two.

I promise I don’t use them maliciously. Conniving, yes. Really evil, no.

cookiemonsterOne of our readers, possibly playing off the word ‘want’, referred us to a YouTube video starring Cookie Monster. Apparently Cookie Monster is getting on the mindfulness bandwagon and trying to get kids to use the skills. It appears Cookie Monster’s halo is a bit straighter than mine. He is not using the skills to get what he wants. He is using them for delaying gratification (“cookie now! No, cookie later”) and urge surfing.

Now we have all heard about delayed gratification. In delayed gratification we resist our impulses to seize an immediate reward so that we might have a reward – sometimes better and free of punishments – later. Mindfulness skills can be used to surf over the urge for immediate gratification so that we have a chance to get the better stuff later.

Urge surfing, you ask? Any surfer dudes or dudettes out there? As surfers, you know the waves come in, well, waves! They have highs and they have lows. There is no such thing as an endless wave.

In the interest of my upcoming simile, we are going to ignore the option of diving under a wave and say there are two ways of dealing with a wave. You can stand there and get the stuffing knocked out of you or you can get on top of it and ride.

Urge surfing offers a way to ride the waves of your impulses. Rather than give in to the power of an urge you stay on top and end up in the trough behind it. Maybe even eventually on the beach away from the urges all together.

Portland Psychotherapy also says urges, like waves, don’t last forever. They dissipate after about a half an hour. The idea is to use your breath as your surfboard and ride. Use your observe skills to get a little distance from the urge. Adopting what they call an open and curious attitude (aka open monitoring) and observing all of what is happening in your body and head will allow the urge to pass.

Remember being open and nonjudgmental is essential. That which we resist, persists.

If I were Cookie Monster, I would be saying something like the following: “I am thinking about cookies. My hand wants to reach for that cookie. My tummy is grumbling. I have a thought my tummy is calling that cookie.”

So why even mention this technique in a website on AMD? Well, Cookie Monster is cute. I am proud he is learning to control his impulses. Also, a lot of us have time on our hands and to use another old chestnut, “idle hands do the devil’s work”. That may mean too many cigarettes or too many beers or too many cookies! AMD is enough of a problem without the complications of those habits. Better to get out your boards and hang ten with the Cookie Monster dude.

Next: I SCREWED UP

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