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.