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Child Psychiatrist /Adult Psychiatrist

Too Much Distance: Learning to Say "Yes" in Relationships

Updated: Sep 15, 2023

Too Much Distance: Learning to Say "Yes" in Relationships

Why is it important to say "yes"? It means connecting with others. It is a way of recognizing that we are all human and all need social contact. It is a healthy way of respecting your role as part of a larger community. It means becoming known to others.

Learning to Say "Yes" in Relationships

a group of people standing and standing in different poses
a group of people standing and standing in different poses


Asking someone out for coffee.

Telling your therapist how you really feel.

Asking someone for a favor.

Joining a club or organization.

Calling a hotline.

• Being vulnerable about your "weak" feelings.

Letting people get to know you.

Soothing "young" parts of yoursel

* Any others that you notice? Write them on the back of the page.


With Others

With Yourself

Substance a "I am having a drug craving-please help talk Abuse me through it."

can give myself treats that are healthy rather than destructive."

"Please come with me to an AA meeting.'

"I need your help-I am scared."

"I will try speaking at an AA meeting."


" need to reach out to people when I'm upset."

would like you to call and check in on me "I can start creating healthy friendships step to see if I'm okay." by step.'


* Try different ways:

• Share an activity: "Would you like to go a to a movie with me?" Say how you feel: "I feel so alone; it is hard for me to talk about this."

• Focus on the other person: "Tell me about your struggles with cocaine." Watch how others do it: Go to a gathering and a listen to others relate.

* Plan for rejection. Everyone gets rejected at times. It is a normal part of life. Let go of that person and move

on to someone else who might be available.

* Practice in advance, if possible. Therapy may be safe place to rehearse.


From Seeking Safety by Lisa M. Najavits (2002). Copyright by The Guilford Press. Permission to photocopy this form is granted to purchasers of this

book for personal use only (see copyright page for details).

276 HANDOUT 3 (page 2 of 2)

Setting Boundaries in Relationships

* Choose safe people. Select people who are friendly and supportive.

* Know that it's normal to make mistakes along the way. It will feel uncomfortable to reach out to others at rst. Allow yourself room to grow-it will get easier over time.

* Set goals. Keep yourself moving forward by making a clear plan, just as you would in other areas of your life. Decide to make one social call a week, or try one new meeting a week.

* Recognize that you may feel very "young." Parts of you may feel vulnerable, like a child who a is just learn-

ing how to relate to people. That is expected, as parts of you may not have had a chance a to develop due to PTSD or substance abuse.

* Start small. Start with a simple event (e.g., saying hello or smiling) rather than a huge one (e.g., asking

someone out on a date). a

* Notice what you have in common rather than how you are different. Work hard to see your similarities with others; this can make it easier to connect.

ROLE PLAYS FOR SAYING "YES" * Try rehearsing the following situations out loud.

With Others

) You talk about your impulse to hurt yourself before doing it.

-> You ask someone at work to go to lunch.

-> You tell your therapist you missed her when she was away on vacation.

> You call your sponsor when you feel like drinking. › You tell someone, "I love you."

} You tell someone how alone you feel.

- You admit a weakness to someone.

- You talk to your friend honestly about your anger at him.

- It is 4:00 A.M. and you are so depressed you can't sleep. Whom can you call? is The weekend is coming and you have no plans with anyone. What can you do?

With Yourself

You feel scared; how can you soothe yourself?

You have worked hard; how can you give yourself a safe treat? a

Part of you ("the child within") feels hurt. How can you talk to that part? -› You are angry at yourself for failing a test. How can you forgive yourself?

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