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?
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.
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.
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.
I could add – and will add to this – but let’s allow the emotional mind to have her say:
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.
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).
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!
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!
My fear/anxiety about even discussing it is super-high. Imagine how that will grow if I move forward! Worth it?!?
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?
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.
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.
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:
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!).
In April 2012 I had a mental breakdown. The real thing. I have about 36 hours that I don’t remember....