A Journey towards Integration
You know those times when you have an overwhelming urge to scream “FUCK YOU!” in the face of someone who is trying to tell you what to do, or who to be, and they’ve got it all wrong, but they just won’t go away (from your thoughts, at least) even though it’s none of their damn business anyway?
Like Imagery (I.M.P.R.O.V.E.) and Self-soothe skills, Alternate Rebellion is endlessly creative. There’s no right way to do it…as long as it works, that is. But Alternate Rebellion is creativity under pressure, learning to channel those destructive urges into something less harmful and more fun!
So instead of screaming a swear word and (probably) being escorted out by security, I might want to stalk away and take an extra-long coffee break.
In DBT class, one of the counsellors told a story about how she really wanted to drop out of school just to piss off her overbearing father, but instead she dyed her hair purple and stayed in school. She didn’t sacrifice her future goals AND her father freaked out over the hair.
I first used this skill on my parents, wearing my Trailer Park Boys t-shirt (with a large marijuana leaf right on the chest) to Sunday dinner. They didn’t react, but I felt like rebel, and nobody got hurt. Today, I frequently turn up the radio too loud, mostly just before dinner time when my kid is whining for snacks while I’m trying to make dinner and I consider throttling him. Okay, not literally, but other parents of 4-year-olds will know what I mean. (I don’t know how I’d parent without DBT; those little kids really know how to push their parents’ buttons!)
Some of the most fun ways to use this skill involve the arts. Write a letter of all the nasty things you’re just bursting to say — a poison epistle — and NOT sending it. (I can’t count how many letters I’ve written…) Write and draw a satiric comic. Draw a picture. Make a video. Start a blog. You can use that negative energy to create some pretty amazing, if dark, works of art.
Ideas for Alternate Rebellion
The following ideas were generated by DBT participants to offer nondestructive ways to express rebellion. Choose ideas appropriate to the situation. Choose ideas that will not be harmful to someone else in your environment.