We waited to depart for our backpacking trip until Tuesday morning so that I could go to DBT on Monday night. Lame.
So the focus for the week was still on distress tolerance. We went over the ways we had used the self-soothing and improving the moment strategies in the last week. It was another week where most people didn’t seem to want to share; I can’t even remember what I talked about – if anything. I was feeling a wee bit hypomanic and having a hard time staying tuned in, even with my doodling.
Finally, we went on to the last distress tolerance strategy, which is thinking about pros and cons. This is different from most pro/con evaluations. Instead of just thinking about pros/cons of doing something, we’re supposed to evaluate the pros/cons of both doing something and not doing it. This assumes that the “something” we’re doing is a maladaptive coping strategy, e.g. self-harm, drinking, using drugs, etc.
So the analysis actually recognizes that behaviors that tend to make a situation worse do have their advantages (after all, that’s why we do them…) and that not doing those things has disadvantages as well. The idea, of course, is that the pros of not-doing and the cons of doing should weigh in favor of not-doing. The group leaders provided a nice example of someone’s worksheet for drinking, but one of the other group members brought up the same issue that I’m facing – doing this is obvious for something like a drinking problem, but what about the more seemingly minor concerns that add up?
The homework this week is a lot harder. We have to fill out a worksheet with the pros and cons for a destructive behavior looking at both the “same old way” of reacting to things, as well as a more healthy way of handling the situation. It’s supposed to be a 3-step process, starting with identifying the destructive behavior, followed by working out pros and cons, and concluding with keeping the worksheet somewhere handy to refer to it when needed.
I’m having a hard time choosing a destructive behavior. There are plenty of things that I would be better off not doing – smoking, drinking, comfort eating, avoidance, panicking – but none of them seem like “big” enough problems (to me) to really address this way. The other challenge is that there have been no real crises as such lately. That’s good, but makes it hard to figure out what kind of bad behavior to work on, and I know that thinking out the pros/cons isn’t likely to stop me. But maybe I’ll be pleasantly surprised; after all, this is a different type of analysis than I usually do.