Ep 23: Pros and Cons

#23: Pros and Cons

Today’s show covers the DBT skill called Pros and Cons. While most of us have already done informal pro and con lists in our heads when facing a tough decision, the DBT take on Pros and Cons is a little different. 

Pros and Cons is great to use in anticipation of problem behaviors like avoiding, lashing out, shutting down, self-harm, or any kind of addictive behavior. Just make sure that you’re in your Wise Mind when you write out your Pros and Cons list, rather than Emotion Mind. 

We review states of mind during this episode as well, in case you’re unfamiliar with the concepts of Wise Mind, Emotion Mind, and Reasonable Mind. We also review the SUDs scale, or Subjective Units of Distress, to help you become familiar with what different distress levels feel like for you.

Pros and Cons is part of the Distress Tolerance module and all the skills in Distress Tolerance are designed to help you get through a crisis or stressful situation without making things worse.

Towards the end of the podcast, Marielle guides Ed through a Pros and Cons list for procrastination. You might be surprised at what is discovered!

Show Highlights:

  • Pros and Cons skill helps you map out advantages and disadvantages of different courses of action
  • Pros and Cons is the opposite of acting impulsively or without thinking
  • Consider both long and short term goals when using Pros and Cons
  • Identify crisis behaviors or urges that don’t serve you and that you would like to change
  • Make a list of the pros and the cons of acting on the urge
  • Also, identify the pros and cons of resisting the crisis urge 
  • Often the downside of resisting the urge is that you feel bad, or perhaps even miserable, in the moment 
  • Usually, the major benefit of acting on the crisis urge is immediate relief
  • Sometimes there is resistance to using Pros and Cons because those crisis urges give you something you need that you don’t know how to get otherwise
  • Keep your Pros and Cons list somewhere handy: in your wallet or on your fridge so you can see it when you need it
  • Ed runs through pros and cons around procrastination
  • Avoiding brings him relief in the short-term but there is a constant sense of dread, too, and building anxiety

Links & Resources

DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition

SUDs (Subjective Units of Distress) scale

Ask us a Question

We’d love to hear from you! Where are you getting stuck with your skills application? Ask us a question for the chance to have it answered on the podcast. Submit your question here. 

Please note that questions, and this podcast in general, are not a substitute for individual mental health treatment.