Pros and Cons
DBT Pros/Cons are different from mainstream Pros & Cons in that DBT Pros/Cons looks at the Pros and Cons of tolerating vs. not tolerating distress.
In otherwords, it’s the pros and cons of tolerating the DISTRESS of a situation and the pros and cons of not tolerating THE DISTRESS of a situation.
When examining the pros and cons, you are looking at the consequences of potential actions. For example, one time, when I was in a yoga class, the instructor said something to me that reminded me of something my father used to say to me in a negative way. I knew she didn’t mean what my father meant but I still reacted emotionally and felt those old sensations of betrayal and invalidation. Many times in the past, when I experienced a “trigger” situation like this, I would let it overwhelm me and I would never even stop to think about the fact that my life was different now. I would let it build up. In the past, I might have tolerated the feelings throughout the yoga class so I wouldn’t make a disruption, but by the time I went home, I would be out of control.
I could “ride the wave” of emotions, reassuring myself that my feelings wouldn’t kill me, that I was strong enough to feel the emotions without acting out on them.
When I went home, if I was still feeling those triggered negative emotions, I could distract myself by watching TV, playing computer games or reading a book.
On the other hand, I thought about what I would do if I didn’t tolerate the distress.
I could stand up, yell at the instructor and walk out.
I could go home and engage in self-harming behaviors.
Next, I began to think about the consequences of tolerating versus not tolerating this distress
When I look at this from a distant point of view, the correct thing seems obvious. But when I was “mired” in the emotion, all options seemed equally possible.
Since it’s best to practice in less intense situations, when you’re not emotionally invested, write out some pros and cons for things you don’t care about as much. Like right now, I could stomp on the floors or throw my cats in the bathtub. I have no reason to do these things. They really are ridiculous, but by practicing writing it down, I know I’ll be better at it when I’m done.