Emotion Regulation Worksheet 2 with Personal Example | Pros and Cons

Today in DBT class, we focused on the DBT (Dialectical Behavior Therapy) Pro's and Cons exercise as outlined in the top portion of this worksheet:

From Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan

Lately I have been dissociating when my boyfriend talks about his plans to go and live with family abroad for a few months.  I volunteered to use my situation as an example for the class, anticipating that I would also gain insight and help from the experience. And, I did.

I wanted to stop the dissociation, but dissociation isn't an emotion. It's mentally checking out...feeling numb...it's more of an absence of emotion. I had to get to the emotion that has been causing me to dissociate.

After looking through the pages that describe emotions in my DBT binder, I quickly realized that the emotion is Fear.  Some of the "Prompting Events for Feeling Fear" that I identified with were:

  • Being in a similar or the same situation where you have been threatened or gotten hurt in the past, or where painful things have happened
  • Flashbacks
  • Being alone

Once I identified the emotion, it was time to fill out the worksheet.  

Emotion Name: Fear
Intensity (0-100) Before: 90
Prompting Event for my emotion (who, what, when, where): What triggered the emotion?
Discussions with boyfriend about his plans to leave the country for several months.  It triggers in me fear of being left, abandoned, and being alone. I am afraid he will stop loving me. I am afraid he will not come back.

Now let's look at the top two boxes in the 4-box chart at the top of the page.

The top left box are the Pros or "positives" about KEEPING the fear.
By feeling and dealing with the fear, I can work through it and be stronger.  I have the opportunity to ask questions and not assume, and in doing so, I may find that the things I am afraid of are blown out of proportion to reality.  If I face the fear, feel it, and process it, I am facing reality, which is one of the ultimate goals of DBT.

The top right box are the Pros of about CHANGING the fear.
I first had to identify what I would change it to. With a little bit of coaching from the doctor, I realized that my own personal opposite of fear is courage, so my emotion would be "feeling courageous."  If I am able to feel courageous in this situation, I will grow in confidence in my progress in DBT and my ability to continue to heal and get well. I will have more self-respect and be proud of myself.

The lower left box are the Cons or "negatives" of KEEPING the fear.
If I keep the fear, I will live in anxiety and inner turmoil. I will continue to dissociate if I do not conquer the intense emotion that I am feeling, which starts with feeling it and accepting it.

The lower right box are the Cons of  CHANGING the fear.
If I change the fear, I am making an adult, responsible solution. The con of this is that I won't lead others to believe that I need to be taken care of or babied. Past coping skills have included going to the ER and making myself sick so that others would care for me.  I would be giving up those methods (June 11, 2012 will be ONE YEAR that I haven't done this behavior).  The thing is I've been working SO HARD to develop, practice, and implement into my life new, healthy coping skills. I don't want to regress or go back to these behaviors.

Needless to say, this class and this particular worksheet were very helpful to me.  I hope that you gained something by reading my example and that it helps you as well.  Here is a link to the Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality Disorder by Marsha Linehan, the source of the worksheet:

Thank you for reading.

More soon.


  1. Thank you SOOOO much for showing this example. I really found it super helpful, you are doing fantastically. Keep up the great work. x

    1. Thank you Andy! I am sooo glad that you found this helpful. Thanks also for the encouragement. Glad you had time to visit my blog today and leave a kind message.

  2. I'm starting DBT soon, this made me panic more than anything (not the way you're put it, just its the first time i've really understood anything about it). I'm scared of changing the way i think and i'm scared of facing up to anything :(.
    You've put some really good info/thoughts here, so thanks for your post. Sounds like its working for you which is great! X



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