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Part 2 of 3 in the series ‘Building a life worth living in DBT’ – learn why it’s hard to dream.

Why it’s hard to dream: Building a life worth living in DBT (Part 2)

In our last post, we talked about why it’s so important to begin Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) by figuring out what your life worth living looks like.

Not what other people think your life should look like.

What you want.

And to do this, you have to be able to dream.

Let’s look at why dreaming is sometimes incredibly hard.

Why it’s hard to dream

You grew up in an invalidating environment

An invalidating environment is one where you got the message, directly or indirectly, that what you were feeling, thinking, or wanting was:

  • Wrong
  • Bad
  • Invalid

Over time you may have started to mistrust yourself.

Or your feelings, thoughts, and wants were ignored.
This is invalidating, too. You got the message that you aren’t worth paying attention to. So, over time you may have stopped paying attention to yourself.

If you can relate to either of the above, then sharing your dreams with your parents, family, or caretakers probably wasn’t emotionally safe.

You may have been met with discouragement when you shared what you wanted. You were teased for being too clumsy to be a dancer, or not smart enough to become a doctor.

Maybe your family only wanted you to go after things THEY wanted for you, like pushing you into a line of work they thought you should do.

So you heard some form of:

  • You can’t do that, OR
  • Do what we want you to do.

Both are dream-crushers.

If you’re met with these responses over and over, you begin to believe it’s true.
You start to believe you should become a teacher because that’s what your father always thought you should do (even though you have no interest in teaching). Or that you just don’t have what it takes to be really successful in life.

You may have pushed down what you want so completely that the question, “What are your goals?” feels overwhelming. You buried the part of you that can dream, that can hope, long ago.

Your DBT therapist will help you re-discover those parts of yourself.
You’ll learn how to identify and trust your inner voice, or wise mind.

You are just trying to get through the day

If you’re struggling with addictive or compulsive behaviors, an eating disorder, self-harm, frequent relationships problems, or difficulty controlling your emotions, then you may have become used to just trying to get through the day.

When you’re depressed or feeling worthless, dreaming of something bigger, something more for yourself, can feel daunting.

Because to dream, or to say, “I want my life to look like this,” you must be able to believe that change is possible.

That you can do this.

That you are worth it.

So the simple question your DBT therapist will ask you in your first few sessions, “What are your goals for therapy?” or “What is your life worth living?” isn’t so simple to answer.

To learn how to begin dreaming

Read Part 3 in this series – Building a life worth living in DBT

Ready to make a change?

Call (415) 310-5142 to schedule your first session.