Stop is a distress tolerance skill from dialectical behavior therapy, and a great tool to use whenever we're feeling overwhelmed or in distress or experiencing uncomfortably strong emotions.
Stop is an acronym that stands for stop, take a step back, observe and proceed.
When we stop, we stop whatever we're doing right away.
If we're talking or arguing with someone, we stop, we shut up. We don't say anything more. If we're working either at our jobs or doing something around the house, we stopped working, not as soon as we finished whatever we're working on, we stopped right now. If we're doing something on our phones, we stop and put them away.
If we're engaging in some impulsive or self destructive behavior, we stopped that stop sounds like a really simple instruction. But sometimes it's hard to stop, either, because we've already gathered so much momentum, it can be hard to put on the brakes, or because we want to keep going.
We can just finish whatever we're in the middle of where we don't want to stop, because stopping means we're gonna have to acknowledge something we're trying to avoid, like a conflict, or some uncomfortable thoughts or feelings. And we'd rather just keep going. So we don't have to think about this problem, and can just keep ignoring it.
But the longer we wait to stop, the more dangerous things become, and the more likely it is, we end up past the point of no return and find ourselves in the middle of some sort of crisis that can be really difficult to get out of. So as soon as we notice, we're starting to feel distressed or overwhelmed, or panicky, or frustrated or angry, or engaging in some impulsive or unwanted behaviors, or having any other sort of strong negative experience.
That's when we need to stop right away. And then as soon as we stop, we take a step back, the T n stop stands for take a step back. But I also like to think of it as T for timeout. Taking a step back is like taking a timeout, it gives us a chance to remove ourselves from the situation, get some perspective and calm ourselves down.
And the T can also stand for take a breath. One of the best things we can do to help calm ourselves down is to take a few breaths, slow down our breathing, and follow our breath for a few moments, using our breath to help reconnect ourselves with the present.
And then we observe. We observe what's going on outside ourselves, and in particular, what other people are doing. We observe our own behavior, what we're saying and doing and how we're acting. We observe what's going on inside ourselves, observing our thoughts, feelings and emotions, and the physical sensations in our bodies. Observing makes us more aware gives us some perspective, and it helps us see things more clearly, and gives us the information we need to take the final step p, which stands for proceed.
I also like to think of the P as standing for plan. So before we proceed, we can take a moment to reflect on what we've observed, figure out our goals for the situation, and the most effective way we can accomplish them.
If we're having a conflict with someone else, we can plan how to de escalate how we'd like to resolve the situation. And what we'd like to say.
And I have an upcoming video on interpersonal skills that can help with us.
If we're acting impulsively or out of emotional mind, we can plan to connect with our wise mind. And if you don't know what emotional mind and wise mind refer to, I have a video that explains them.
And if we're frustrated with something we're working on, we can plan what we need to do to complete the task.
If we're experiencing negative thoughts, or our minds are racing, we can plan to do something to help calm our minds. And if we're experiencing some uncomfortable emotions, or physical sensations, we can plan to do some emotion regulation.
I have lots of videos that can help you manage your thoughts, feelings and emotions and body sensations that I link to in the description in the comments.
And then once we've come up with a plan, or even if we didn't feel it was necessary to come up with a plan and have just stopped taking a step back and observed.
Now it's time to proceed mindfully. Perhaps re engaging with whatever prompted us to stop in the first place. And now acting with more awareness, taking into account our thoughts and our feelings and our goals for this situation. And if other people are involved, their thoughts, feelings and goals as well.
And for more tips on distress tolerance and other DBT skills, please check out the video Here's a link to in the description and pin comment. And please hit the like button and subscribe to my channel so you don't miss out on any of the new videos. I have coming up.