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the skillful podcast episode sixteen opposite action

16: Opposite Action

Sometimes it’s better to not act on our emotions. The DBT skill Opposite Action helps you act opposite to what your emotion is telling you to do.  Use this skill when your emotion doesn’t fit the facts or when your emotion does fit the facts but acting on the emotion isn’t effective.

This skill can help you act the way you want to feel instead of the way you do feel. Make sure you use this skill to change emotions you want to change, not emotions that other people want you to change. This skill has several steps so listen in to learn how to fully change the way you feel.

Show Highlights:

  • Sometimes people feel it’s inauthentic or fake to change their emotion
  • Start by identifying the emotion you are having
  • This skill requires you to use another skill called Check the Facts
  • Ask yourself if the intensity of your emotion and how long lasts fits the facts
  • Emotions have action urges
  • Ask yourself what actions your emotion is telling you to do and then do the opposite of that
  • Doing opposite action halfway won’t work, you have to go all-in
  • Fear often leads to avoidance of the scary thing
  • Use your whole body when you do Opposite Action
  • Your emotion may fit the facts but acting on that emotion may not be effective for your goals
  • Sometimes sadness is based on assumptions about what might or might not happen in the future

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Ask us a question and we may answer it on the podcast. Please note that questions, and this podcast, is not a substitute for individual mental health treatment. Submit your question here.

To learn more about DBT and therapy in general, read our blog.

Links & Resources:

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition

SUDs (Subjective Units of Distress) scale