Ninja Turtling

Today a coworker made a snarky comment about something I had done.  It was a matter of preference, not a matter of one way being right and the other being wrong, but I am extremely sensitive and instantly took it to mean that I’m a horrible person and can never do anything right and clearly ought to go cut myself as punishment.  (No, I didn’t, but I briefly considered the possibility.)  The crew lead told me to let it roll off my back, and I was reminded of Turtling.

Turtling is a DBT skill in the Mindfulness module.  It discusses the various ways that turtles take care of themselves:

  • withdrawing inside their shells
  • snapping and biting
  • adapting to life in water and on land
  • letting things roll off their shells
  • moving slowly and intentionally
  • persistently righting themselves

In my original DBT group, the members frequently talked about using the Turtling skill and invariably they meant withdrawing.  It wasn’t until a couple of months later that we made it to this skill in individual therapy and I learned that there were more ways to practice it.

Today I repeatedly let things roll off me.  I shared the skill with a coworker and the rest of the day, whenever anything frustrating happened, we’d look at each other and say, “turtle”.  I wish I had felt able to use my favorite part of the skill though, which is snapping and biting.  I have a habit of turning my frustrations inward instead of expressing anger toward others, and learning this skill was like finally being given permission to “snap” when people deserve it.


3 thoughts on “Ninja Turtling

  1. Thank you for sharing this perspective! While I hate that you are going through so much, it is comforting to know that I am not alone. Thank you for being so open and honest in your writing!! I also wanted to let you know that I have nominated you for the Liebster Award. It is completely optional, but I believe it is an excellent way to connect with and to support one another. If you have a few minutes, I hope you will check it out.
    Thank you,


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