07 Aug Comparisons and Contributing
Two of the DBT skills to help tolerate distress are comparisons and contributing. These also help to facilitate gratitude and compassion. I am sharing my experience with comparisons on a particularly difficult weekend. The gratitude I had experiences turned my mind towards how I could contribute to the homeless population moving forward.
This past Sunday, on my early morning bike ride, I rode past several homeless people. This is one of my many rides down the Santa Ana River trail, but this time I had thought of how difficult their lives day-to-day being homeless. I began to think about my own time being homeless – something that has been very far removed in my mind for a long time. After all, it was a long time ago, when I was 16 and on and off until I was 18/19. I remember how the days where always about whose couch I was going to sleep on and what I would do until that time, often waiting for that person to get home. In extreme weather, it was especially anxiety provoking, although the moment was often hijacked by the here and now experience of being very cold, hot or hungry. I had found a few sheltered places that I could hang out in during the day. One of them was an old and abandoned train. How different my life was then that I could feel grateful to have a place to stay warm or out of the rain – even an old abandoned train with piles of trash in it. When trying to get a small break from heat, going into a store to feel the cool air only to have people look at me disapprovingly and sometimes more openly hostile, for occupying their space without buying anything. I was fortunate to have places to wash my clothes most of the time, but there were the few times when I didn’t. I had forgot how uncomfortable it is to wear extremely dirty clothes. Going to the bathroom was another story. It is easy to get used to peeing wherever, but the other requires a bit of ease in order to accomplish and restaurants and stores did not often let people like me (essentially non paying) use their restrooms. I believe it caused a lifelong issue with chronic constipation, maybe just bit more then you wanted to know about me.
Today I am grateful. I am grateful to be sitting here in my own home with air conditioner at a table with my cup of coffee. I am grateful to have my own clean bathroom. I am grateful to have clean clothes. I am also sad that there are individuals who don’t have these things, but I’m thinking of ways that I can contribute. Please feel free to post any ideas or share how you contribute.