Emotion Regulation 1.1o: Pros & Cons

Pros & Cons

We continue a series on how to effectively manage emotions, so that we can engage more thoughtfully in relationship. All of the skills we discuss are designed to support the ultimate goal of wisdom (see post titled, “Emotion Regulation 1.0”).

For several posts, we looked at various awareness skills, and then a few days ago, we began looking at distress tolerance skills. Today brings us to our fourth one: listing pros and cons.

When a crisis brings us to a decision point, making a list of pros and cons can bring perspective and clarity. It can also help us properly weigh the various considerations for the options we have. One item on our list may have more import than all the rest and weigh more heavily than all the other items put together.

The Power of Black and White

Getting a pros and cons list in black and white can help get the emotions under control, as well, by bringing the rational brain online. As we’ve seen with the other distress tolerance skills, becoming aware of our emotions is the first step in getting on top of them. At that point, we can make conscious, intentional, purposeful choices, which take long-term outcomes, not only short-term interests, into account.

Thinking it Through

I’ve never heard anyone regret thinking something through, but I’ve heard many people express frustration that they acted impulsively on their emotions. Of course, it’s possible to “over-think” something, although the paralysis of analysis is really driven by emotions, such as fear, not by intellect. Done with awareness, listing pros and cons can actually overpower the paralysis of analysis, unlocking motivation to move forward with important decisions.

Do you currently have a decision to make, but feel stuck? Try a pros and cons list, and see if getting it out on paper helps you sort through your emotions and allows you to take your next step with confidence and peace of mind.





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