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DBTalk: Worry thoughts, Wise Mind statements, THINK skills

Yael Dorfman and Bashi Levine, LPC, ACT

The DEAR MAN skills are totally working. Even my friends noticed. Shira was shocked into silence when she overheard me say no to Ruti

Monday, April 09, 2018

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After reviewing the homework from last week and applauding each others’ skill usage examples, we moved on to the last of the interpersonal effectiveness skills.

First, we talked about factors that interfere with being effective interpersonally. When a situation doesn’t go as expected, these skills teach us to identify — and work through — factors that may stand in the way of acting effectively. We also covered factors to consider prior to using the skill, which help us decide when and how strongly to use it, as well as THINK skills, which help us see the situation from another viewpoint.

Toward the end of the session, we role-played scenarios that require the simultaneous use of multiple interpersonal effectiveness skills. Since many — if not most — interactions entail more than one type of skill, it’s important to learn to balance the skills! I was impressed by the way the girls identified the skills (DEAR MAN, FAST, GIVE, even THINK and worry thoughts) — they’re picking up on nuances that they wouldn’t have noticed in the past!



The DEAR MAN skills are totally working. Even my friends noticed. Shira was shocked into silence when she overheard me say no to Ruti (a classmate who tends to guilt-trip me into saying yes). Once Shira got over that silence (she’s never quiet for long), she burst out laughing and hugged me. She can’t figure out what made me finally grow a backbone, but I know exactly what did it!

Of course, it’s not always sunshine and roses. It’s tough to break out of my rut, especially when people are used to me agreeing to everything. I can’t say that I haven’t upset some people by saying no, and I have to admit that I don’t always use the skills effectively (or at all!) — that new leaf is really hard to turn over….

Apparently this isn’t unusual. Bashi said that there are several factors that can interfere with interpersonal effectiveness: 

  • lack of skill (I don’t know what to say or do!)  
  • worry thoughts (she’ll be angry at me) 
  • emotions (I’m panicking about talking to her)
  • can’t decide (I’m not sure if it’s better to ask or to give in)
  • environment (she refuses to negotiate) 

When worry thoughts interfere, we counteract them with Wise Mind statements.

I guess I really am a worrier, because I had no trouble noticing worry thoughts.…

I’ve been working at Camp Ruach for a few years now, and the director asked me for information about a friend of mine who had applied for a position. I kept pushing off returning her call, but when I sat down to think about what was getting in the way, I realized I was having worry thoughts — that I wouldn’t do it right, which could lead to my friend not getting the job or the director being upset if I didn’t give accurate information. So I challenged my worry thoughts with a realistic Wise Mind statement: I’m 16 years old, I can do a relatively good job giving information, and I’m sure I’m not the only one she’ll ask! (

Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 704)

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