DBT Skills: Use Some Logic

Hello friends and welcome to our final DBT skills distress tolerance post before the holidays. I hope I have given you some tools to pull out if your family starts getting stressful, but if not here is one that I think the skeptics among us (hopefully all of us) will appreciate. Last week we worked on improving the moment, but sometimes the best you can do in a given situation is to not make things worse.

For people with serious mental illnesses, this often means choosing not to use symptoms (e.g. self harm, binging and purging, drinking, drugs, etc). For the rest of y’all it might just mean choosing not to engage in behaviors that feel good right now but are not going to be good for you in the long term. This is where pros and cons comes in.

Say you’re real stressed out and you think to yourself “I know! I’m going to eat this entire tub of ice cream because it will make me feel better!” Then you take a moment of mindfulness to stop and realize that that might not be the best plan. So you decide to do some pros and cons. There’s a fairly specific format to weighing pros and cons in DBT, and it’s set up like this to probe you to think a little more deeply. It looks like this:

Tolerating Distress

Not Tolerating Distress













 Once you’ve filled out your little graph, you can look back and see if logically and rationally it makes more sense to give in to whatever urge you might be feeling, or whether your well being is better served by trying to wait out the feeling. It definitely helps to have a concrete piece of paper with your reasoning in front of you, and it’s also a good reminder that you need to balance your immediate needs with your long term goals. Generally you want to be thinking about the consequences of whatever action you might be taking.

If you’re in a time crunch you can always do a mini version in your head to try to talk yourself out of doing something you’re fairly certain will be a bad choice.

While most of us know that pro and con lists exist, we rarely think about them in terms of our emotions, so it’s helpful to have this as a tool to pull out when you think your emotions might be taking over your thinking.



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Olivia is a giant pile of nerd who tends to freak out about linguistic prescriptivism, gender roles, and discrimination against the mentally ill. By day she writes things for the Autism Society of Minnesota, and by night she writes things everywhere else. Check out her ongoing screeds against jerkbrains at www.taikonenfea.wordpress.com

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