#31: Self-Soothing Revisited

#31: Self-Soothing Revisited

Do you find it hard to take care of yourself? The DBT skill of Self-Soothing is designed to help you tolerate distress, but it’s also helpful for regular self-care. This episode explores what exactly self-soothing is, when and how to use it, and common barriers to implementing it.

Many of us are going through a time of tremendous uncertainty and multiple losses in the face of a global pandemic. This can wear us down and bring up past traumas, both big and small. Self-soothing is one way to help ease the suffering of this moment. 

This episode explores how to use the senses to self-soothe: sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. For some people, self-soothing brings up feelings of not deserving. If you weren’t treated with kindness and care as a child, it might be particularly hard to treat yourself with kindness and care as an adult.

Show Highlights

  • Regular self-soothing makes you less vulnerable to falling into Emotion Mind
  • Use your 5 senses to find creative ways to self-soothe
  • Intentionally taking a moment to soothe yourself by looking at something beautiful
  • Music can be a way to get in touch with emotions if you’re feeling shut down
  • Savoring with taste, take your time and really enjoying it
  • Asking yourself: What is getting in the way of self-soothing?
  • Am I telling myself I am too busy for this? 
  • Am I telling myself I need to “earn” self-soothing?
  • If you weren’t treated kindly as a child, soothing yourself may bring up grief or anger 
  • Noting and accepting the resistance to self-soothe
  • Trauma histories may make it harder to engage in self-soothing
  • It may not feel safe to be in your body, so go slowly, and talk with your therapist about fears
  • Balancing the Being Mind and Doing Mind
  • Self-soothing happens in the Being-Mind, so if you feel like you have to be productive all the time, it can get in the way
  • Opposite Action can be helpful if there is a lot of resistance to self-soothing 
  • Over time, self-soothing will get easier
  • Self-soothing is an opportunity to slow down
  • Self-soothing can help decrease a sense of deprivation that often precedes unwanted behaviors

Links & Resources

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition

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Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.