Monthly Archives: April 2013

Building mastery


One of the DBT skills is entitled ‘building mastery’. It is defined as ‘ do one thing that makes you fell like you’ve accomplished something’. For any of us, those things can differ greatly moment by moment. Sometimes if I can answer my phone that feels such an accomplishment (or even more significantly actually make a phone call!) whereas other days my sights might be set a little higher.

As you will know, I’ve been trying to face some of my fears squarely in the face. I have had enough of thinking that I can’t do certain things. I can’t cook… I can’t have a tidy house… I can’t garden… Etc… And for some reason over the last few weeks I decided to confront my fear of sewing.

Background: I have never sown- and to be honest, have never had a desire to sew. I would look at things some people had made and it didn’t even cross my radar to contemplate it myself. I wouldn’t know how to sew back a button, at bible study group a friend re-sowed the wire of my bra back into place as it had come out… Two friends altered all my clothes when I went to Mozambique… It is something I have not even thought of taking responsibility for… There wasn’t a chance that I could actually do those things.

In hospital last year, they tried to get me sewing… (Not a good idea) I was in a horrible anxiety state and the noise of the machines was unbearable… I tried to stitch some bean bags onto a pillow and subsequently they came undone- I was really upset and I let it provide evidence that I was useless at this type of thing.

But a few weeks ago while staying with a friend- I saw a project that needed doing and before I really knew it I had volunteered myself to make it… What was I thinking!!!! I have never used a machine!!!! But volunteer I did and determination took hold and by hook or by crook I was going to finish this thing.

I have blogged over on the technical side of the project… Mistakes I made, lessons learnt etc… But here I just want to speak about the project from my mental health perspective. Firstly here is the finished project!!!


I love the colours, pattern and feel of the bunting and curtain. From a DBT/BPD point of view all this transpired from this simple project.

1) learning a new skill ie. using a sewing machine enabled me to work on something one mindfully. I needed to concentrate on just this one thing. It was great. Threading the pesky needle was all I could do at one time… Lovely

2) working with colours is such a helpful thing for me. The patterned material makes me smile. Sewing is a new skill to add to my distress tolerance skills.

3) I realised how much I rush everything I do. For some reason I set a deadline to the project that didn’t need to happen. It affected the quality of the project and greatly increased my stress… And there was no need.

4) I could stop when I needed. So obvious- but this was the biggest challenge for me. When I started sewing the seams, it all happened so quickly and before I knew it I was going completely wonky- it and I were then out of control… It took me ages to realise (and I still never really practised it) that I could stop… Literally take the foot off the pedal, stop, re-evaluate, adjust and then start again.

This is such a metaphor for me. Often, I start on a destructive trail and I slide blindly into chaos… Like the sewing- I can stop, evaluate, adjust and start back again. When I feel myself sliding I can halt the inevitable. I SOOOO need to work on this more. But I can now visualise the curtain hem!

5) I don’t have to be perfect. The project is really quite squiffy in places and you know what- it really doesn’t matter. My friends mother in law could have done a far better job- but that isn’t important… I did it, warts and all… Not everything has to be perfect all the time. A difficult one for me.

6) I WILL GET BETTER… The more I sew, the better I will get. The more I practice my DBT skills the better I will get. I may never be as good as some of my friends… But possibly I should be able to mend my own bra soon-you never quite know!

Thanks for reading.