Accumulating Positive Experiences

Emotional regulation can be difficult for anyone that is running from an empty cup. I like to think of it more like a bank account though instead of a cup. If someone’s emotional reserve bank account is at $10 and they come to an interaction that requires a $20 withdrawal, their emotional regulation skills are most likely not going to be the best because they are running from a depleted bank account of -$10. However, if this same individual started with an emotional reserve account of $1000, that interaction that requires a $20 withdrawal would not faze them as much. They would be in a better position to more easily regulate their emotions. This is simply because they have a higher cushion for withdrawal.

How Do We Accumulate Deposits to Our Emotional Bank Accounts?

ABC PLEASE is a skill in DBT’s Emotional Regulation that aids us in this.

Accumulating Positive Experiences

Building Mastery

Coping Ahead

Treat PhysicaL Illness

Balanced Eating

Avoid Mood-Altering Drugs

Balanced Sleep

Get Exercise

A lot of it requires us to live a healthy lifestyle, however, accumulating positive experiences can be very effective in making deposits. This requires that we work on accumulating both short term and long-term positive experiences. When we can make positive memories doing the things we love, it not only provides a deposit into our accounts but it can help us when we are going through some of life’s lows.  It helps us by making memories that we can look back on and aid us in realizing some of the dreams we have for ourselves. These positive experiences work in reminding us of the joys of life.

Short-Term Positive Experiences

These are positive experiences that you can insert regularly in your life. You will want to incorporate a couple of these daily and consistently to help with accumulation as the effects of these experiences may wear off rather quickly. You may even notice that you already do many of these in your life currently.

Here are some examples of short-term positive experiences.

  • Call/text a friend
  • Watch a movie/show
  • Read a book
  • Listen to music
  • Play an instrument
  • Practice cooking
  • Go for a run
  • Go for a walk
  • Explore your neighborhood
  • Play with your pet
  • Go hiking
  • Go for a scenic drive

Long-Term Positive Experiences

These experiences are more based on your values, priorities, and your long-term goals. Most of these will be smaller steps that you can make to help you reach your goal. This is different for everyone and is dependant on what they would like to achieve.

Here are some examples of long-term positive experiences.

  • Making steps toward maintaining healthy relationships
  • Making steps toward a specific career
  • Making steps toward a dream of traveling
  • Making steps toward graduating
  • Making steps toward becoming the person you would like to be.

Remember that taking small steps towards a bigger goal helps you get one step closer to reaching that goal. So, try and gather up the courage to stop avoiding and giving up by facing the problem head-on. It can be easy to fall into the trap of avoidance when there are many stressors around you, however, the accomplishment of your goal will be well worth the wait. Lastly, remember that relationships are a necessary part of long-term happiness. Take the time and share in some of these activities with those you love.

Written by Sophia Jean-Pierre


January 24, 2020

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