A Safe Place for Cutters Blog

Do You Feel Like a Failure?
September 28, 2009, 22:03
Filed under: Coping Skills | Tags: , ,

Michael JordenEvery once in a while someone in my group, A Safe Place for Cutters,* will complain that after so many years they cut again.  As one cutter said after such an episode, “it’s gonna be hard to keep it on the straight and narrow now.” I disagree.

Failure is not a bad thing. Failure is actually a good thing, so long as it doesn’t become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Failure is, in fact, the Supreme Teacher, and action is the matriculation fee that allows you to enroll in the Supreme Teacher’s class.

To develop any complex skill such as managing urges to cut, you must be willing to make mistakes and endure failures. The faster you can make those mistakes and suffer those failures, the quicker you will master the skill.”

That reminds me of something basketball great Michael Jordan once said: “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. Twenty-six times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed.”

“Failure is instructive. The person who really thinks learns quite as much from his failures as from his successes.”

-John Dewey

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend.  Click here!


Proven Steps to Stop Those Powerful Urges
September 13, 2009, 21:53
Filed under: Tools

SocratesA young woman who is a member of my private group for cutters in Facebook* wrote to tell me how proud she was that she had not cut herself for three months. I love to hear stories of progress and asked her what had helped her stop cutting herself for so long. She replied that outside of having been hospitalized for that amount of time she was not sure. An alarm went off in my head. If you do not understand why you do a certain behavior or why you have stopped for a period of time you are doomed to repeat it. As the ancient Greek philosopher Plato once said, “Know thyself.” It is really important that you understand yourself in order to stop a self destructive behavior.

In an earlier blog, I discussed my use of the Chain Analysis of Behavior with my individuals at the state hospital. On my resource page, you will also find a taped interview of me discussing this. This is a great way to learn why you do what  you do and what helps you to stop behavior that harms you and sets you back. It is not a one time use of it that will make the difference but the repeated use of it over time. In other words, every time you cut yourself, don’t beat yourself up. Look at it as a sign that there is something you need to learn and do a Chain Analysis. Over time you will come to understand yourself better and better.

Another ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates once proclaimed, “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

An Uplifting Movie for Cutters
August 24, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

moviesA friend of mine James Dye, who is a member of my private group on Facebook for cutters* created a movie that is meant to be uplifting for cutters. He also wrote the music. This is an excellent example of channeling emotion something I wrote about in an earlier blog as a way of taking potentially destructive emotions and turning them into something positive, that helps to make the world a better place.

You can check it out at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zYsuRvBLeVY. I think he did a great job. Let me know what you think.

If you have a creative outlet for your destructive emotions; such as writing a book or poetry, art, making movies, writing music photography, etc. Let me know, I would love to have you share it with me.

To A Life Worth Living,

Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

Five Little Senses
August 21, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Coping Skills | Tags: , ,

In my last few blogs I have been discussing the importance of focusing what is going on with your five senses in order to aid you being present and thus mindful which goes a long way in helping you to relax and reduce anxiety. The following is a little child’s poem that reminds us how important it is to get back to basics.

Five little senses are what I need,
To use when things are near.

I use my eyes to look and see.

I use my ears to hear.


I use my nose to smell things.


I use my hands to touch.


I use my mouth to taste
The things I love to eat so much.


Five little senses standing in a row,
To see, hear, smell, touch and taste
The things I need to know.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

Technique for Breathing Correctly
August 19, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Uncategorized

breathingSome people have eliminated their anxiety symptoms simply by changing the way they breathe. A proper breathing technique is very important and requires practice. A proper technique can be learned for taking breaths in and letting breaths out – without making yourself feel dizzy. And, once made a part of one’s natural body rhythm, those feelings of the onset of an attack become less frequent, and in some cases, disappear. Some people use a breathing reminder to stay focused when a panic attack is coming on.

There is a whole science behind breathing which goes back thousands of years. The mechanics of all this is discussed on a separate page, but the recommended breathing method and some practice tips are shown here.

  1. breathe into your diaphragm, not shallow “chest” breathing
  2. inhale through the nose,
  3. exhale through the mouth,
  4. take longer to exhale than to inhale,
  5. slow down! (reduce your breaths-per-minute)
  6. practice until it becomes your natural breathing pattern.

Note: When breathing correctly into the diaphragm  your stomach will rise more than your chest.
First, test your current breathing pattern

  1. Begin by lying flat on your back or standing up straight. You may also sit up straight in a chair, if that is more comfortable.
  2. Place one hand on your stomach area and one hand on your chest.
  3. Breathe as you normally would and notice whether your “stomach” hand rises or your “chest” hand rises.
  4. To breathe properly, your stomach area must rise more than your chest as your diaphragm expands.

Second, Learn proper breathing technique:

  1. To learn to breathe correctly, begin by slowly breathing in through your nose through the count of 4.
  2. Hold the breath for a count of 7.
  3. Slowly exhale through your mouth for a count of 8. (Some call this 4-7-8 breathing.) When you exhale, try to make a soft “whoosh” sound by holding the tip of your tongue against the roof of your mouth (or lightly clench your teeth) as you exhale slowly.
  4. Repeat this process for three more times (for a total of four breaths.) Do not do more than four breaths at first – with practice, you can work your way up to eight breaths. Do this twice each day.
  5. If the process causes you to begin panicking, only do it for as long as you are able.

10.  Increase the number of breaths each day until you can do the exercise for at least eight breaths twice per day.

11.  If you continue to practice breathing this way, you will soon be doing it naturally throughout the day.

12.  An additional benefit will be that once you are familiar with the exercise, you can do it while experiencing anxiety or the beginning of a panic attack, and you will feel relief.

Now, change your breathing throughout the day:

Follow the steps above with one important twist: rather than practicing twice per day, practice throughout the day. . .it is more effective. Think about it: you breathe all day, right? So you should breathe correctly all day.

Practice taking a full breath through your nose, hold briefly, and then “whoosh” your exhale slowly as described – but do that at least every 15 minutes all day long. This has two immediate benefits, you are practicing more total “breaths” during the day, and you are making proper breathing a routine throughout your day.


Do not be angry with yourself or give up if you cannot do this exercise correctly right away. It takes practice. Give yourself time.

  • Do not be afraid of the exercise causing panic. Remember: you are in control and can stop at any time.
  • Take it as slowly as needed. Work your way up to every 15 minutes – don’t try to rush into this.
  • and, most importantly, start out seated as you may feel light-headed the first few times you breathe “correctly.”
  • Remember to breathe! Our lives are filled with distractions and a task or hobby can be so absorbing, you forget to breathe. Use a timer or an on-screen reminder to make sure you breathe at regular intervals.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

How To Practice Being Mindful
August 17, 2009, 05:00
Filed under: Tools | Tags: , ,

FiveSensesI run a group therapy for individuals diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. We always start the group off with a mindfulness exercise that I will elaborate on later on in this post. Many of these individuals have also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) related to early childhood trauma such as physical or sexual abuse. .Using mindfulness for PTSD may be a good way of coping. Mindfulness has been around for ages. Mindfulness benefits for people suffering from difficulties such as anxiety and depression.

In a nutshell, mindfulness is about being completely in-touch with the present moment. So often in our lives, we are stuck in our heads, caught up in the anxiety and worries of daily life. This exercise will introduce you to mindfulness and may be helpful getting you “out of your head” and in touch with the present moment. The following story will highlight how powerful this exercise is.

A couple of weeks ago, I had missed a group session when I was on vacation. In my absence my co-providers, a psychiatrist and a social worker were left in charge. At the next group meeting, I was informed that the group had erupted in chaos. That stuff doesn’t happen when I am there so what took place? I found that they hadn’t started with the mindfulness exercise. I start the group off by telling them to focus on their five senses: taste, touch, smell, hearing and vision. When you are centered on your senses you are in the present.  Your five senses will tell you what is happening right now, not in the future, not in the past but in the moment. After the exercise, which lasts for about one to two minutes, everyone shares what they experienced during the exercise. It is amazing how this exercise calms everyone down and prepares them for participating in the group process.

Here’s How You Can Do This at Home:

1. Find a comfortable position either lying on your back or sitting. If you are sitting down, make sure that you keep your back straight and release the tension in your shoulders. Let them drop.

  1. Close your eyes.
  2. Focus your attention on your breathing. Simply pay attention to what it feels like in your body to slowly breathe in and out.
  3. Now bring your attention to your belly. Feel your belly rise and expand everytime you breathe in. Feel your belly fall everytime you breathe out.
  4. Continue to focus your attention on the full experience of breathing. Immerse yourself completely in this experience. Imagine you are “riding the waves” of your own breathing.
  5. Anytime that you notice your mind has wandered away from your breath (it likely will and this is completely normal!), simply notice what it was that took your attention away and then gently bring your attention back to the present moment – your breathing.
  6. As you experience the awareness of your breathing, start to notice what you are experiencing with your five senses. You probably have your eyes close so you won’t to notice what you are seeing. What do you hear? Are there people chatting nearby? Traffice sounds? Birds singing? Do you notice any smells? Perhaps you smell someone cooking or a person’s  perfume. What does the couch you are sitting on feel like? Notice the texture of the leather or nappiness of the upholstery. Are both your feet on the floor so that you feel grounded? Do you discern a taste in your mouth? Sometimes people can taste their breakfast or their morning medication.
  7. Continue for as short or as long as you would like!


  1. Before you try this exercise, it may be useful to first simply practice breathing. This may sound silly, but many people don’t breathe properly, which can fuel stress and anxiety (more on this later).
  2. Make this a habit. Practice this exercise at least once a day.
  3. At first, it may be important to practice this exercise at times when you are not overly stressed-out or anxious. When you were first learning to drive a car, you likely didn’t start out on the highway during a thunderstorm. The same goes for mindfulness.
  4. Remember, it is normal for your mind to wander during this exercise. That’s what it does. Don’t get discouraged. Instead, at times like this, it may be useful to think of mindfulness in this way: If your mind wanders away from the breath a thousand times, mindfulness is about bringing your attention back to the present moment a thousand and one times.

Next: How to Breath Properly

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!

Avoid Toxic People

Toxic People 2Now that you are practicing gratefulness in your life and have made a list of 200 things in your life that you are thankful for you have found that not everyone shares your new attitude that there is always something to be thankful for. You’ll say something pleasant like, “Isn’t the sky a pretty blue?” and they will sneeringly retort, “No it isn’t. It’s a sickly hue of gray.” So what do you do?

Please heed this important advice: avoid toxic people! Unfortunately, there are a few people out there who see the world as one big problem, and in their eyes you’re part of it. No matter how well things are going, they focus on the nitpicking little negative details. And they do it constantly. It’s a habit that totally destroys relationships.

You may be thinking at this point, “Easier said than done. Do you mean if a friend I’ve known for years talks like this, should I just turn and walk away?” No, RUN! His or her constant negativity will drain the life out of you. Now please understand, I am not talking about someone who has a genuine challenge and needs real help. I am referring to those chronic whiners who take great pleasure in dumping all their negative garbage on your plate at every opportunity. It’s the highlight of their day. Don’t put up with it anymore.

To A Life Worth Living,
Foresteen Forbes, Psy. D.

*If you would like to be a member of my Facebook group “The Safe Place for Cutters,” please find me on Facebook and invite me to be your friend. Click here!