Distress Tolerance

The Pink Elephant

Stressful events, scary moments, anxiety, worry, fear, sorrow, emotional pain, and more. If it is causing you to feel uncomfortable or hesitant, then it is making you feel distressed.

If I were to tell you there is a pink elephant in the middle of the room and I do not want you to think about the pink elephant. I want you to think about something other than the pink elephant because the pink elephant is not what we are going to focus on. The pink elephant is not the topic of our thoughts right now. Let’s take a moment to think of something other than the pink elephant. What are you thinking of? It is my guess that many of you will reply, “the pink elephant.” Have you been in distress before and the more you tried not to think about it, it just seemed to get worse? Ah, the pink elephant.

We all face the pink elephant in our lives, it is inevitable just as the intensity and frequency are. The key is HOW we choose to react and handle the distress, how we combat our pink elephant.

The Blue Donkey

Our pink elephant has not gone anywhere, yet over here by me is a blue donkey. Oh, what an amazingly blue donkey he is. His fur is an iridescent blue and as I brush it forward it takes on one shade of blue and as the hair lays back into place it returns to another shade. His mane, almost cobalt, shimmers as if it is silk, and his nose appears as blue crushed velvet. Even his hooves are blue as if just manicured. His eyes follow you about like sapphires gleaming in a quarry. What are you thinking about now? If you said the blue donkey, my question is, what about the pink elephant? Isn’t it still in the room too?

Our blue donkey is what is called Distress Tolerance and the idea is that, although distress may exist, there are ways we can exist with it that it does not overwhelm us. we can survive the distressing situation while not making it worse. We can be in control until the distress passes or eases.