Distress tolerance are strategies we use to cope with emotional upset or distress.
Everyone in life has experienced emotional upset or distress. It is inevitable. However, not everyone has learned healthy or useful distress tolerance skills.
This can happen when there is attachment trauma and the family in which the person grew up did not have reliable caretakers to help the child learn how to cope with emotions.
Sometimes it happens when the home environment is so toxic and overwhelming the only options the child finds helpful are extreme, such as dissociation, substance use, or self-harming.
It can also happen when emotions are not acceptable in the home, so the child learns to ignore or suppress them until they are too overwhelming. In that case, standard coping skills will not work as the system is already in overwhelm.
There are different types of distress tolerance strategies. They include: distraction, self-soothing, mindfulness and radical acceptance. In future posts I will go into each of these a bit more.