Stopping intrusive thoughts or problematic behaviours

Ever since my latest bout of depression 3 years ago, I’ve been struggling with self-depreciating thoughts that I cannot seem to control.
My therapist at the time gave me a DBT worksheet by Marsha M. Linehan to work on just that via a chain analysis.
If you have a behaviour that you just cannot shake, try this along with me!

  1. Describe the specific problem behaviour (eg overeating, dissociating, etc)
    Be detailed and say exactly what you did, said, felt or thought and what you didn’t do.
    You want to describe the intensity and other characteristics of the behaviour.
  2. Describe the specific prompting event (what you did before the behaviour)
    From the environment to the timing to your thoughts, include everything.
    Could this have happened at another time? What is needed for the behaviour to happen?
  3. Describe the specific vulnerability factors happening before the prompting event
    Was there physical illness, unbalanced eating or sleeping, drugs or alcohol, any stressful events or intense emotions prior to the problematic behaviour?
  4. Describe in great detail the chain of events leading up to the problem behaviour
    How long is the chain, what are the links and where does it go?
    Include everything, even small things that come to mind, such as body sensations, expectations or things other people did. Write it out as if its a script or story.
  5. Describe the consequences of the problematic behaviour
    Again, be specific. How did you feel right after, how did others react, what effect did it have?
  6. Describe in detail a skillful behaviour you could have used to ward off the problem
    What links were crucial for the problem to happen and could have been eliminated?
    What could you have done differently at each step of the chain?
    Is there a coping or skillful behaviour that could have helped?
  7. Describe a prevention strategy to reduce your vulnerability
    Having detailed your vulnerability, what can you do to reduce the chance of it?
  8. Describe how you’re going to repair important consequences of the behaviour
    Analyse what you truly harmed and what you can repair.
    It’s important not to give in to shame or give empty apologies:
    repair failure by succeeding, not by berating yourself!

Once we examine a behaviour we have come to fear, we take away its power.
We might have thought about something again and again, but putting it down on paper, even coming back to it over time, can do wonders.
Let me know if you’ve tried this approach and whether it’s helpful!

I still need to be more mindful of my prior vulnerabilities of when my intrusive thoughts come in. It always happens when I remember embarrassing moments, but what mood or emotional place was I in before that?
No matter what, I will approach this process with great love and respect instead of resorting to shame as I would have done prior!

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