Pros and Cons

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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.



Tolerating Distress


Not Tolerating Distress


Pros


Cons


Pros


Cons


 


 


 


 


 


 


 


 

 

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 knew I wanted to live my life differently and use the skills to help me. I thought about some ideas about what I might do to tolerate this distress:

  • 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



    Tolerating Distress


    Not Tolerating Distress


    Pros


    Cons


    Pros


    Cons


     Feeling of success that I was able to use my skills


     I would have to put effort into self control


     I would be able to continue to feel what I was used to feeling, which sometimes brings comfort


    My instructor might not let me come back to class or at least, there would be tension between us 


    I might be able to change my state of mind and continue my life normally without using up my energy


    I wouldn’t get that high feeling of creating drama and making others pay attention to me. 


    I could experience a temporary satisfaction of  having punished myself 


     I would experience regret, pain and shame the next day or maybe even right after acting out


    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.

    Ultimately, I decided to ride the wave of emotion. Nevertheless, it turned out that my instructor had sensed that something was wrong and asked me about it after class. I told her that I was experiencing an emotional trigger from my past and that I needed to go through these emotions and work it out by myself.

    By the time I got home, my emotions were less intense. I turned on the TV and found a show I wanted to watch. I allowed myself to get caught up in it and when it was over, I realized I had actually forgotten about the incident.


     

    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.

    Think about a situation from your recent past. Don’t go for the big, heavy things like when you were attacked or something. Think about something like an argument you got in or when you were in your car and yelling at people around you. You already know what you did, but imagine you were still back at that time and the prompting event just happened. Use the pros and cons to think of some other ways you might have behaved. Ask yourself if the same thing happened in the future, would you act differently? There’s no right or wrong. You’re just practicing thinking in a way that is different.

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