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Hope Through Authenticity

Pros and Cons ~ An Adapted DBT Style: Rational + Emotional = Wise

FROM A BILLBOARD NEAR ME: Everything happens for a reason. Sometimes the reason is you're stupid and make bad decisions.

Imagine you have been offered a new job and you want to do a pros and cons analysis. Would it look something like this?

PROS

  • More money
  • Better insurance
  • Corner Office

CONS

  • Commute (from 30 minutes to 75)
  • Big team to manage
  • Travel about 40% of the time

Those are GREAT things to consider. As a matter of fact, those things must be considered. Those considerations, however, are FACT based. They make the rational brain happy. What about the EMOTIONAL brain? Facts also carry an emotional component. In other words, we have an emotion around truth.

Remember that a WISE MIND* considers both the rational and emotional. We cannot ignore our emotional side of decision-making and expect to be satisfied with our choices. It’s very important we settle down and complete a different type of pros/cons analysis. Let me demonstrate for a scenario I am personally struggling to decide.

UNDER CONSIDERATION:

I’d like to start a “school” for writers. I’m envisioning on-line classes, video classes, a video critique group, one-on-one editing and critique services for all aspects of the writing process.

Rational Pros and Cons

My RATIONAL brain is spitting out pros and cons in rapid-fire fashion. I won’t bother you with the entire list but I will share enough so you can get a feel for how to find WISE MIND.

Pros

  • You are already doing this, it’s just a different adaptation
  • You could make some $
  • You have most of the resources already
  • Might get me an audience for my own book
  • Like teaching – energizes me (that might be my emotional mind weighing in)
  • I’d learn a lot of different skills

Cons

  • It would take an influx of $ to get started (“how much?” the rational brain asks)
  • You would have to learn to do several “technical” things and that would take time from your own writing (huge learning curve)
  • Requires a commitment and you enjoy your current flexibility
  • You’d have to learn a lot of different skills that don’t excite you

I could add – and will add to this – but let’s allow the emotional mind to have her say:

Emotional Pros & Cons

Every decision you make causes distress. Thankfully, most are so minor that you just push on or barely notice. For example, you might be planning to change toothpaste. On a scale of 1-10, that’s a distress level of 1.

But, changing jobs, having a kid, choosing a school, considering marriage or divorce, filing bankruptcy – these cause a level 10 distress! Right? The higher the distress, the more critical it is for you to sit down and feel AND think before acting.

I’m applying an 8 to my distress level regarding starting a writer’s school.

The DBT Pros & Cons is more about the consequences of potential choices on an emotional level. Let me just jump to it because that will likely demonstrate it best.

OPTION 1: Move Forward and Pursue the Idea with Gusto

“TOLERATING THE DISTRESS OF OPENING A SCHOOL”

Pros

  • I’d be very satisfied with this career. This career would not only feed my teaching gift, it would keep me writing and learning.
  • I’d be proud that I faced the fears associated with such a project
  • You’ve written a book, published it, currently writing a second one – this is easier – (that’s not a pro, it’s more an affirmation but I’m trying to share what’s coming up for me)
  • You’re already doing it – you’re being a ding-dong (that’s my name-calling side rearing her beautiful head) – just do it already

Cons

  • I’d have to discuss with Dave and I’m afraid he’ll reject it and cause conflict, hurt feelings … (If I’m brave enough to bring this up, then I’ll want him to get on board)
  • The learning curve scares me – what if I can’t do it – that ‘crushed feeling’ could send me backwards mentally
  • What if it fails …. You’d be a failure …. You’d put your family in jeopardy AGAIN
  • Where does the $ come from – how much are we talking about anyway?
  • FEAR FEAR FEAR
  • Having to face that overwhelmed feeling! Can you do that? Is it worth it?
  • Who are you to think you could do this – and charge for it? – (admittedly, that’s not a con but it does demonstrate Distress Tolerance. This comment is swirling and swirling and beating me down)
  • You’d have to start slow – and that’s not a strength

OPTION 2: GIVE UP THE IDEA

“NOT TOLERATING THE DISTRESS OF OPENING A SCHOOL”

Pros

  • Sweet relief – I could sleep at night – stop running the idea around and around in our heads
  • More time to write, hobbies, etc.
  • Never have to tell Dave and hear his worries (hmmm – this worry may indicate a problem area that I should address at another time)
  • Never have to face the fear
  • No financial impact – (can you see how this is both a rational and emotional idea?)
  • You wouldn’t have to put structure around the idea

Cons

  • You’ll always think about it – wonder if you could have succeeded. The idea will continue to germinate.
  • You like teaching so much – and you’re good at it – do you walk away because of fear that can be worked through?
  • No positive financial aspect – (can you see how this is both a rational and emotional idea?)
  • Working through the fear is good for you on many levels

I could go on and on here too. I’m hoping you see that there are many things to consider. The higher for potential distress, the more I must analyze both areas (rational and emotional).

Combining

Did you notice how some considerations were both rational and emotional? I think when you take the time to do these analyses, the rational and emotional brains start to talk to each other. I’d have an emotional con and my rational brain would agree or challenge. Kind of cool!

What Does the WISE MIND Say

My Wise Mind thinks it’s a good idea on two levels: 1) The idea is just a good one. 2) Having to keep pushing myself through fears and obstacles is only going to benefit my mental health. 3) Discussing this with Dave in a calm manner would continue to strengthen our relationship and build my confidence in conflict management.

Wise Mind is telling me to present the idea to Dave. He’s an excellent source of balance and his ability to see things I haven’t is unparalleled. He’s a resource that has my best interest at heart!

BUT ….

My fear/anxiety about even discussing it is super-high. Imagine how that will grow if I move forward! Worth it?!?

A Weird Observation

Did you notice how sometimes my comments were first person (‘I, me’), then second person (‘you’) and even plural (‘we’). I need to evaluate what that means – was I trying to distance myself, trying to share the angst?

The Decision/Next Step

I’m not sure yet. My next strategy is to bring this up in therapy and try to move “fear” to the back burner and then I’ll be able to look at this more clearly.

And, I will discuss this with Dave (hopefully before he edits this). If I can’t face that fear, I should forget it! But, I need to go to him armed with a plan. Part of that plan is this analysis.

Success

Regardless of what I decide to do, I am PROUD OF MYSELF because I didn’t jump in or run away. I’m sitting in my feelings and letting it all simmer so that I can make a WISE decision. I’m getting better!

*If WISE MIND is a new concept for you, read last week’s blog for an introduction.

Resources:

I did not follow the DBT model exactly as it is typically presented. Still, my adaption follows the methodology pretty well. Here’s more for you to read:

https://www.dbtselfhelp.com/html/pros_and_cons.html

https://peerguideddbtlessons.weebly.com/dt-procon.html

DISCLAIMER: PLEASE READ

I am not a therapist. I have no relevant diploma. I have no fancy letters behind my name. I am a sufferer with years of therapy. I am an expert only in the sense that I am enrolled in the School of Hard Knocks. But hard knocks are an excellent teacher. If you suffer, I highly recommend you find a professional to help you and develop a personalized treatment plan. This blog is MY experience and while I pray it’s helpful, I am not qualified to diagnose or treat anyone for anything. (Well, I am a great math teacher—especially fractions!).

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