G.I.V.E-ing Relationships

G.I.V.E. is another acronym of DBT (Dialectic Behavior Therapy) which helps us to remember the skills to build and keep strong relationships. When those of us in depression, grief, anger or frustration let our Emotion Mind take over, the results can be damaging to a relationship that we need and love.

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I have learned it is important to try to stay on the middle path rather than the totally emotional or totally reasonable ones. I want to be reasonable by keeping my relationship healthy, but my reason might cloud my mind so that I don’t see or hear what the other person is saying and meaning. Of course, you know what too much emotion mind looks like: arguments, hurt feelings, personal attacks.

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In the skill G.I.V.E the “G” is for “be Gentle.” Like Jesus. I don’t want to say things I don’t mean to a person I care about. I don’t want to try and manipulate someone I love into doing what I want. I am no judge of others, that is God’s business. And I shouldn’t judge myself unfairly. Being gentle means holding the relationship in esteem. If my aim is to keep the relationship, then I won’t say something I would be ashamed of later, after the heat of the moment is gone. I must try to be more like Jesus.

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That doesn’t mean I give in to everything the other person wants and says, it’s more like I am gentle with myself and being gentle means keeping my objective top of mind. The overall objective would be to keep this relationship strong and loving, but at the same time I may want the other person to stop doing something that hurts me.

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I may want my daughter to stop asking me for money, but I don’t want to have a drag-out fight about it, so I do my best to state my point of view and try not to judge her. Saying “You constantly ask me for money” is an exaggeration and could set off an argument, so I would say “I think you’re asking me for money too often.”

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The “I” in G.I.V.E stands for “act Interested.” Don’t interrupt them or talk over them. Listen to their point of view. Another objective of mine is to have a loving relationship with my daughter, to not let my feelings about her asking for money get in the way of the fact that I love being with her. So, I tell myself to be interested in her struggles while not giving in to her.

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“V” is for “Validate.”  I need to see the world from my daughter’s perspective without judging her by what I might think is her manipulation of me. (Judging) I need to resist the need to lecture her, since in our past conversations I have said the same things over and over. For instance, I might say, “I know you are smart, you just need to learn money management techniques. Can I offer you some advice?” Then come up with a plan that addresses her specific problem as I have gained new insight by listening.
“E” is for “Easy Manner.” DBT says to “ease the person along.” Coming into a conversation hard core may result in defensiveness from the other participant. Be light-hearted, use a “soft sell” over a “hard sell.”

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You’re wondering if my daughter has stopped asking me for money, aren’t you? Well, the answer is no, but it’s gotten better. Plus, now I am able to have the conversation without anger or frustration. She knows I don’t want to give her money and I have to say that I sometimes judge by thinking she’s manipulating me, but I don’t say that out loud and I’m working on it!

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I am able to have a calm conversation with her even if I’m stressing inside. I acknowledge my feelings in my mind and let the stress go. I am not perfect, but I try. My relationship with my daughter is stronger and yet, I can still stand my ground when needed.

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