Yesterday morning I repaired my broken vacuum cleaner.
I purchased it in May of last year & it had quit working in October. Unfortunately I had lost the receipt during the craziness of last summer. So even though it was still under warranty, I knew I would have trouble getting it replaced/fixed. I asked my ex to take a look at it, but he said it just needed to be thrown away.
On Monday, I used my best DEARMAN skill to email Hoover and ask them to send me a replacement. They declined. Bummer!!!😖 A lot of times, the confidence and clarity I can convey with a DEAR is enough to get my needs met.
Life had a better lesson in store for me this week. 😊
Hoover did assist me by sending a list of possible problem-solving techniques. So yesterday morning I grabbed my screwdriver and went at it. It took about an hour of my time, and there were 4 different clogs that I had to find. But find them I did!!
How proud I was of myself when I plugged it in and saw the dirt whirling in the canister. I did that!! I took something that I was told was trash (that the man in my life was unwilling to even attempt to salvage) and made it work. Plus I saved myself over a $100 on a replacement.
What a surge of pride! I was capable of doing this thing. All it took was a little bit of research ➕ willingness to get my hands dirty ➕ letting go of my preconceived notions that “fixing appliances is a man’s job”.
This is what the BUILD MASTERY emotion regulation skill is all about. Located in the reducing vulnerability to emotions section of the workbook, this skill is about deliberate engagement in activities to raise your sense of self-competence.
DBT defines Mastery as “doing things that make you feel competent, self-confident, in control & capable of mastering things.”
As young children we constantly build mastery because life is always presenting us with new opportunities to explore. As we age though, stagnation tends to sit in. By our mid twenties many of us have settled into careers & fairly stable lives. Each day we wake up, follow the routine, and then repeat the cycle the next day.
When we do reach that place where we have finished our formal education, it is important to continue to make learning an important aspect of our lives. Learning should be fun – a lot of times we forget that because we have experienced so much “forced learning.” We were wired to be curious about our surroundings to want to explore and develop understanding of novel experiences. Plus aquiring new skills across domains can help you increase balance in your life.
Mastery is a major buffer against depression. If you have found yourself in that stagnant space lately, how can you reintroduce mastery to your life? Maybe it’s starting a new hobby or reengaging in an old favorite that you have let go by the wayside. The focus is not on learning everything or becoming an expert. It is all about being able to observe and acknowledge the little wins along the way.
When we accomplish a task that is hard (especially one that is almost out of our zone of capability) our brains get a boost of all the feel-good chemicals (serotonin, dopamine, etc.). Combine the bio-hack effects of this with self-esteem gains of mastering something you could not do before – its no wonder this is one of my favorite skills!
When we are engaging in a growth-based life, we are constantly building mastery. The more capable we feel in our abilities to handle the environment around us, the stronger protective buffer we build for moments when we find ourselves vulnerable.
I’d love to hear how you’re building mastery in your life today!
P.S. After I finish typing this, I’m off to another build mastery task – a Saturday morning bootcamp class I can’t believe I committed to. Wish me luck!! I know it’s going to kick my ass AND I’m going to feel great 💪 about doing it!
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