Mental health feelings

Is your reaction justified?

So, one rainy Tuesday morning, sopping wet you step from an elevator, walk down a drab hallway and enter your chilly office.

This is an office you do not share, it’s just you, the potted plant you named Percy, your wheezing, ancient computer and a poisonous snake.


A poisonous snake!


Heart in your throat, you jump back through the office door and slam it shut behind you.

So here is what we know so far; there is a poisonous snake, in your office- fact. 

Trembling, you run back down the drab hallway, stumble into your managers office and calmly tell him of your problem.

Shocked and appalled he sends you home to recover.

Wednesday morning, you apprehensively make your way into your building, nervously chewing your lip, wondering what on earth shall be waiting for you on the other side of that paint chipped door.

Unknown to you, your manager has called in the experts and has exercised the office of the legless, deathly fiend.

The snake is no longer there- fact. 

What do you do? 

According to DBT, it is unjustified to not enter the office based on the facts of yesterday. Although your fear of the snake is valid it is not justified since the snake is no longer there. So you should not act as if it MIGHT be.

On the scale of say 1-10 of reactions, with 1 being no reaction at all and 10 being burning down the building the moment you saw the snake, where does one draw the line between what is and isn’t justified?

See, in my eyes, it is perfectly justified to not enter the office until you KNOW the snake is no longer there.

In DBT, it is unjustified since you are not acting on all of the facts (even if you don’t know all of those facts) and so to not enter the office is unjustified and you shouldn’t react until you have seen the snake (or not seen it) on day two.

This is the actual example in the DBT teaching guidebook and I am very confused.

Now I can see what DBT is trying to say here, just because one dog bit you, doesn’t mean the next one will but I don’t see how you can put such a black/white label on emotional reactions.

Wouldn’t it be more problematic (and a greater sign of emotional instability) if we lived each day without regard for what we experienced yesterday?


Photo by David Clode on Unsplash



3 thoughts on “Is your reaction justified?

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