Opposite Action for Physical Health

Every day my body experiences pain.

It started about 3 years ago.

At the time I had no idea what a journey I was about to begin…

I went to a few different doctors to cover my bases and get some tests, and afterwards I was told I was fine. Time and time again, I would get pushed to different doctors because they either couldn’t help me, believed someone else could know more than them, or they just didn’t know or understand what was wrong with me. I was told I was fine, just being dramatic, or it was in my head.

The pain in my stomach continued and my distress began to grow, as my motivation slowly started to wither.

Opposite Action for Physical Health

I continued on and finally found a doctor in a six-month program that was finally able to diagnose me! It was a huge relief and we moved on the treatment portion and I was proud of myself for not giving up on going to doctors!

But then, it came back.

I shocked my doctor when I informed her that my pain and other problems had come back with a vengeance. She believed there was an unknown root cause that will keep causing this to return, but she could not help me find what that was.

So, I continued on, looking for a new doctor, with my motivation slowly dying.

Feeling at a loss, unsure what the point is of continuing to seek medical help, my urge was to run far away and try to leave my medical problems behind. Of course, the problems were not going anywhere. Even though I was feeling frustrated, drained, and willful —> I knew acting on my emotion and fueling that avoidance was not effective.

I was increasing my own suffering.

I tried to go a few months without any doctors to have a break because my lack of motivation and my avoidance won. In that time, I got much more sick and all my symptoms increased.

Being sick and in pain will add vulnerabilities to intensify emotions and have us live in Emotion Mind and I certainly was for a time being. I was tired of being let down, getting bad news, and leaving the doctors office feeling worse than when I got there. I was just so tired. Then factoring in the fear of what a new doctor could say- I didn’t want any more diet restrictions, lifestyle changes or invasive tests. I felt like I already tried them all.

But the longer I waited to go back to the doctor, the harder it became. After a while, I wasn’t even sure what or why I was avoiding. I could see every day that this wasn’t an effective strategy and certainly wouldn’t be sustainable in the long run.

When I recognized how ineffective acting on my emotion was, I knew it was time for the Opposite Action Skill.

Opposite action was not  a one and done deal for me….

Sometimes I had to use it frequently in one day. I needed it to sit down and write a list of doctors and other appointments I had been avoiding. Then I needed it for each phone call I made. I used it all the way by being friendly and cheerful on the phone, with my calendar open and ready to take the first available slot.

Then,  as fear or doubt would creep into my brain when thoughts of disappointment would arise, I would remind myself that avoiding this has not been working or helping.

When doubts occurred the morning of my appointment, I knew I needed opposite action to get there. I made sure to put on an outfit I liked, had a playlist for the car ride there and a plan to get myself a coffee after as a treat for following through.

Some days are harder than others to use this skill.

Some days I will need to break it down even more and just focus on getting in the car first, and then act opposite again to drive straight there, until I feel I can walk in without the urge to run and avoid.

I will always remind myself that things that are in motion will stay in motion and it gets easier as I continue on.

Even though I am not at the end of my health journey and there may be many difficulties ahead that make me want to avoid, I like to take a moment to appreciate and notice that I made tangible progress and small victories when I used the opposite action skill.

DBT of South Jersey media

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