The DBT skills manual includes a section on distress tolerance, and one of the skills noted is TIP, or Temperature, Intense Exercise, and Pressure breathing. The nuclear weapon of distress tolerance is ice water. Nothing – no thought, emotion or body sensation can withstand it.
Place a large bowl with ice on your kitchen counter, island or table. Fill a pitcher with water and have a hand towel nearby. Fill the bowl with water and allow the water to get very cold.
Now, put your face in the ice water. 20 seconds max please. I don’t use a timer or anything, because when my mind (and your most likely) “reboots” the very first thought/urge will be to get your face out of the water because it’s freakin’ COLD! And it hurts. Notice this urge but don’t give in to it. Wait a beat or two and then CHOOSE to remove your face from the water.
The next thing to load is the urge to grab the towel and dry off your face. Again, wait a beat and then choose to dry your face.
Now, notice what loads next. This is your Wise Mind being very aware of your thoughts, emotions and urges. If what is loading is unwanted it is much easier to dismiss it. I learned this from a patient who used a hand gesture much like a dismissal, shooing the unwanted emotion away. And it didn’t come back.
Try this. Don’t worry about the “mess” or whatever – it’s water… I look forward to your observations!