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Alternate Rebellion


Alternate Rebellion
A person screaming in a red hoodie with blonde hair flying around their head

Distress Tolerance skills are a set of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy skills that are strategies to help you get though difficult feelings and situations, and tolerate (deal with, sit with, accept) the things that you can’t immediately change. Emotions can be extreme and lead to behaviors that are ineffective. You may not be able to change the stressful situation you’re in, but you can change the way you feel. Distress Tolerance skills are aimed to make your response to distress more effective.

Many people who struggle with impulse control value the rebellious nature of their impulsive decisions even when they are not effective. Part of the benefit of ineffective coping mechanisms is the rush of doing something you’re not supposed to be doing. While DBT encourages you to move towards more effective coping mechanisms, you don’t have to leave that feeling behind entirely. There are less destructive ways to get that same sensation.

The following ideas were generated by DBT participants to offer nondestructive ways to express rebellion. Choose ideas appropriate to the situation. Choose ideas that will not be harmful to someone else in your environment.

  • Give an honest response instead of a polite one
  • Speak out rather than staying quiet
  • Dress in a counter-cultural style
  • Challenge statements when you disagree
  • Choose mediocrity rather than drama
  • Quit things that are not effective
  • Follow your passion rather than your expectation
  • Wallow in creativity
  • Give yourself time to play
  • Explore
  • Say no to family when they ask for a favor
  • Leave the light on all day
  • Get a tattoo
  • Change your color preference of clothing
  • Do things out of order
  • Do things out of character
  • Seek your own interests
  • Don’t cook
  • Write a letter to the editor
  • Run instead of walking
  • Get a radical hair cut
  • Turn up the volume
  • Roll down all the windows in your car
  • Play a different style of music
  • Leave things out of place
  • Shout or scream alone
  • Dye your hair
  • Wear clothes that don’t fit right
  • Vocally advocate for an issue you care deeply about
  • Sleep late on Saturday
  • Dress up for a casual event or down for a fancy event
  • Get your ears pierced
  • Buy something impractical
  • Break out of roles expected of you

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Additional Resources

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