The Missing Link
Once we've spent some time exploring our use of the foundational principles associated with the Chain Analysis skill, it's time to take a look at what behaviour was missing in the process of activating the effective behaviours that were needed to achieve our goals in the situation where the proverbial might've just hit the fan. In Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) this skill is called the Missing Links Analysis. This is another of the fundamental skills offered in DBT Skills Training that helps us build our Self awareness. It's designed to give us insight for what was needed when a situation has played out in a way where we've failed to engage in what we know to be effective behavioural responses. First of all, this means we have to know what effective behavioural responses are, so if you're not sure what these might look like for you, try joining our free online conversations called The Chat Room, where we explore the different skills that are available for us to use to help cope with what we see as overwhelming emotional experiences.
If you do know what these effective behaviours look like for you, then this easy-to-use skill helps us to identify what stopped us from doing the things that we needed to do, all in a way that provides a sense of clarity for what skills we can bring to the table should this hapen again in the future. Remember, if we use the skills available to us in DBT, we will actually start to Live the Life we Want to Live. At the same time this often means doing something different, instead of doing the same old thing that we normally do, and then wondering why nothing is changing. This means taking an Oposite Action, and stepping into our own individual fears, which is an incredibly challenging thing to do. So, take your time with this type of work, remember that Rome wasn't built in a day, and make sure your foundation for behavioural change is rock solid.
At the same time, it’s incredibly important that we take different actions to create new behavioural responses to the emotional experiences that we fear the most. Every emotion has a learned behavioral response, and if we keep using the ineffective responses we have created in the past, then we continue to send a message to the part that's behaving this way that this is the right thing to do. This just causes the part to dig its heels in more when it comes time to educate it on the behaviour change we are trying to make. Much like the Chain Analysis skill, the Missing Links analysis is also a series of simple questions that are designed to guide us through the process of analysing the factors associated with not engaging in our effective behaviour patterns, as well as helping us to problem-solve for what got in the way, and how we can develop our ability to attempt things of a similar vain in the future.
" Missing Links analysis is also a series of simple questions that are designed to guide us through the process of analysing the factors associated with not engaging in our effective behaviour patterns, as well as helping us to problem-solve for attempting things of a similar vain in the future.”
~Steven Morris RP.
The questions in the Missing Links Analysis are intended to help us explore whether we're aware of what was needed in a difficult situation, instead of what we actually did. It gives us ideas for how we can build awareness, if it's not already there, and helps us to understand why we didnt use the skill that was needed, if we knew what it was. These questions are specifically designed to help us understand the missing effective behaviour pattern in any situation that different parts of our personality took over our actions. It is really important that we do this from a space of curiosity, not from the judgement of our own Internal Critics. If you find your system getting activated by this process, take a step back and explore your Internal Critics, as they are probably playing a significant role in your current behavioural responses. On the following pages you will find a series of questions I have adapted to fit the Multiplistic Personality approach, associated with a Schema Therapy model, to highlight the Missing Link.
Using this worksheet gives us the opportunity to figure out what parts of our personality got in the way of doing what we needed to do, what we agreed to do, or what others expected us to do in the situation we have identified as a problem. The intention is to then use this information to problem solve and connect with the different parts of our personality that were involved, so that we will be more likely to do what is needed, hoped for, or expected next time. As we go through the skills of Mindfulness, Distress Tollerance, Emotion Regulation, and Interpersonal Effectiveness we learn the skills to help us make these changes. However, first we have to know what was missing.
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