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  • Writer's pictureIdiotTheWise

DBT Burning Bridges ......... II

Updated: Aug 19, 2020

This blog post is a work in progress and is not finished!

“I’m not a wilting flower. I’m honest, so I pick a lot of fights. I’ve burned a lot of bridges.”

― Scott Thompson

Old notes revised, new stuff added and expanded:

What's all this bridge burning stuff?

The concept of Bridge-Burning recognizes that relapse into harmful behaviors happens more easily when there is the immediate opportunity to act on impulses. Eliminating the opportunities and/or inserting barriers between urge and action will result in more opportunities to practice skills.

Session insights:

Creating new neural pathways.  This session is one that I have done before in 2019 and I am here for the second time, for for sake of clarity, was another very helpful and informative one. Some very pertinent insights, methods and practices to my current situation with some "things".

Ah, those pesky things. The information about finding new sensory sensations when confronted by old and persistent schemas and triggers were an eye opener, again. Good reminders.

Finding new surroundings and vibrations to counteract those negative hard wired ways of thinking and faulty cognition makes total sense. All the sights, smells, atmospheres and environmental factors that can trigger certain behaviours. I've changed a lot of that shit up. I'm no addict but alcohol became a big thing in my life and it did more harm than good despite some magical boozy times I will never forget or regret. Pubs have gone now though. Booze gone. People that are about booze gone. Pot heads gone. Coke heads gone. That whole social scene, gone. Major shift of paradigm. 27 years of alcohol related habitual behaviour switched up. It's huge. It's daunting. It's right.

I am taking myself to new places that are less habit triggering, less oppressive, less habitually attractive when I feel myself entering choppy waters. Places where I can breath, be left alone, feel free and be around people with positive affirmations and attitudes. Not lost in a haze of hooch and hash.

I was mainly a happy drunk in terms of behavior but when I switched, I was horrible. No more of that. No more hangovers. No more slipping in to deep depressions caused by alcohol abuse and the shit lifestyle that follows that. No more being offered waffle dust in the toilets by dickheads with no brains. Just no more!

I have lots of ideas to work on that replaces that whole habitual behaviour and social scene. This coming week I start my 250 mile cycle for cancer research. Good things.

I've mindfully burned some bridges to get here and that has been painful but I am building new ones to new places, people and things.

Yep. The distraction conversation and information about distraction techniques were very helpful from a clarification point of view.

I "try to" mindfully practice distraction but perhaps not mindfully enough. I need to choose self compassion far more in my life to challenge and counteract my negative self shaming schemas and triggering shit. Hardwired shit thanks to my entire childhood and early adulthood my adult life. I can be less hard on myself and choose compassion. Choose mindfulness and not reenact the utter hectic violent madness of times gone by. World Ware Hell in my head. I need to keep practicing the various techniques and tools we are learning in DBT until the tools that suit me really click. I already have some tools that work, that really help but I need to find more mindful tools to utilize to keep myself in a more rational mind set and avoid the red mist cluster fuck melt downs.

The melt downs are so bad that I have memory loss after. Blanks. I have blanks in my life where my amygdala and hippocampus don't operate properly when seriously emotionally aroused and my neural pathways are all fucked up. Just blanks. Some blanks from early on in life that are self explanatory and some from only the past kind of six years too that are frustrating and I'd like to know why my subconscious has burred those gaps in time.

Anyway, I just need to keep the neuro plasticity DBT re wiring, re learning, remembering not to be a dick, work up. Keep trying. Keep trying. Keep trying. Until it clicks.  That is a massive ahha moment right there. Just keep trying. It will click. 

Further drinking pub culture thoughts:

The lock-down. Now that has been pretty grim and continues to be grim economically and the impact on peoples life it is having continues both financially but also mentally.

I see the impact on some people all around town and amongst my friends and associates. Some have coped just fine, some have not and they know it but some have not and they don't even know they are suffering. It's harsh to watch. Job furlough, job loss, weight gain, increased drinking, increased drug use, no focus, no nothing! Grim.

It's odd, the whole thing so far has helped me with my mental health and my goals, certainly regarding alcohol. I was well on my way regardless but the closure of pubs really really gave me that hard push in the direction I was striving for. It helped me burn the final bridge(s) in my sobriety journey.

I don't miss the booze, I don't miss the physical pub, I don't miss the vast majority of the pub people (drinking friends who are not really friends), I don't miss the crowds one tiny bit, I don't miss the ego wankers bullshit, I don't miss the spending all that money and I don't miss feeling shit the next day and over all, and the main reason I have gone down this path, I don't miss the turning into a drunken abusive horrible fuck wit when drunk.

As you can gather from the above paragraph, I don't miss it.

I do miss a few select characters that only seem to mix down the pub but that's life.

I also miss live music but I can find live music at festivals and arenas and theaters and such. I'm looking forward to the unlocking, reopening of live music venues and events. Hopefully in 2020 but who knows?

Corona19 covid virus lock-down has been beneficial to me. Not in terms of money but in terms of health and separating the wheat from the chaff as far as people are concerned and burning the pub culture drinking culture bridges. I am very lucky.

I hope all the people that have come out of this and are going into this in pain and bleeding recover, heal and bounce back brighter.

RIP to the unlucky ones.

Ramble over.


“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”

― Seneca

Burning Bridges:

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)

The Bridge-Burning exercise to remove the means of acting on harmful behavior.

Lane Pederson, Psy.D., LP, DBTC The core concept of Bridge-Burning is simple: You cannot act on a harmful behavior if you proactively remove the means. Bridge-Burning refers to proactively removing the means of acting on your urges to engage in addictive and/or harmful behaviors. The concept of Bridge-Burning recognizes that relapse into harmful behaviors happens more easily when there is the immediate opportunity to act on impulses.

Eliminating the opportunities and/or inserting barriers between urge and action will result in more opportunities to practice skills. Bridge-burning works best in conjunction with other skills. When we remove the ability to act on harmful behaviors, we need to replace them with something new and skillful. Be careful not to trade one harmful behaviour in for another!

Burn some Bridges!


Usually we think of burning bridges as a very drastic and negative action but in today’s Skill of the Month I hope to share with you why Burning Bridges is actually a very helpful skill. Again taken from the work of Dr. Lane Pederson, Bridge Burning is an additional DBT skill not originally part of Dr. Marsha Linehan’s model.

The concept of Bridge Burning is to remove the means of acting on harmful urges or behaviors. I like to remind my clients that life is hard enough as it is. Let’s make it easier for ourselves so that doing helpful things is actually easier than doing unhelpful things. For example, I’ve many times disclosed that I have dogs not just because I love dogs but also because they make me get out of bed and walk every single morning whether I feel like it or not.

Even that, sometimes, is not enough so I go one step further by sleeping in clothes that I can go out of the house wearing (yoga pants and sports bra with a t-shirt usually) so that I just have to roll out of bed and put on my shoes. I remove the excuses not to do the behavior.

Conversely, Bridge Burning removes the EASE of doing things which are unhelpful urges—it is designed to make it EVEN MORE DIFFICULT to engage in behaviors which are not beneficial to your well being.

Dr. Pederson gives some wonderful suggestions to burn bridges when your urge is to use alcohol and/or drugs; self-injury and/or suicidal urges; spending; and hopeless relationships. You can probably imagine many of his suggestions (not keeping alcohol/drugs in the house which makes it harder/takes longer to actually have it in your hands; removing means of self-injury from your house; cutting up or freezing in water credit cards thus making it far more difficult to use them immediately; and erasing/blocking numbers from cell phones).

Dr. Pederson’s lists are excellent starting places but really mainly assist with the most unhelpful/dangerous behaviors. If you’re not struggling with any of the four areas he covers, don’t dismiss Bridge Burning as only for others!

I see many clients that struggle with eating disorders, OCD, even parenting problems. We can use the same model to come up with ways to burn bridges here, too. You can try this method for just about any “bad habit” that you’re trying to “break”.

Let me just take a moment here to explain how I might use Bridge Burning with parenting problems. Frequently I see kids that “act out” in some way so you might use Bridge Burning by removing the means. If they’re throwing things, remove the things. If they’re destroying property, remove the means of destruction. Now obviously this does not address the REASON why they’re acting out in harmful ways but Bridge Burning would actually be one of the first things I might suggest to the parent. After he or she is unable to do the destructive behavior, THEN you can figure out what they’re really “trying to say” in their behavior.

For OCD sufferers, I’m thinking mainly of the compulsions—especially those who have the compulsion to check up on things (using apps like “find my droid” or “find friends” to see where loved ones are or using the phone to “confess” their “sins” to others) we might delete apps or limit phone usage thereby Burning the Bridge to acting on the compulsion as easily.

Remember to include in your list at least one “replacement behavior” because many times our urges come when we’re feeling lonely or bored.

If we can address those feelings instead of doing the urge behavior, we are going to be much more successful in the long run. Some suggestions for alternative behaviors include: calling a supportive friend, sponsor, or therapist to share your struggle; journaling; taking a walk (away from sources to purchase new items for urges!); watch a funny/entertaining video or show; read an engaging novel or take a trip to the local library to find a new book or two.

Many people trying to quit smoking have found that taking up knitting or crochet gives them something to do with their hands! 

Bridge burning will be most helpful to you if you’re also using skillful behavior such as Opposite Action, working a 12-step program, using distress tolerance skills like Contribute or Imagery; or engaging in mindfulness or meditation.

These skills can be part of your replacement behaviors list.

As you can see, it is important to remember the Bridge Burning will not actually address the underlying behavior that you are trying to change. It is only a part of how we can help ourselves change our behavior to healthier, more appropriate choices. It forces you to have to do more to act on the urge. It builds time in to the pattern to give you more opportunities to slow down and make another choice.

It is a good idea to spend some time thinking about Bridge Burning and use it to assist yourself in making healthier choices when it comes to acting on urges.

⬆️⬆️ exactly.


From: ;

DBT skills for overcoming addictions are included in the distress tolerance section of training (featured in last weeks blog post) and include, as displayed above, an overview of behavior patterns that indicate when one is in “addict mind” or “clear mind,” skills to plan for dialectical abstinence such as adaptive denial, the community reinforcement model, and more. These skills are intended to help people reinforce nonaddictive behaviors and end addiction-linked behaviours.

In her new DBT skills training manual, published in 2015 (Linehan, 2015), Dr. Marsha Linehan introduced several other helpful new skills for people struggling with addiction. One of those skills is called burning bridges. Burning bridges involves reducing your opportunities to engage in the addictive behaviour. Basically, you’re burning the bridge between you and people, places, or events in your life that encourage or facilitate addiction.

Another helpful DBT skill for addiction is called alternate rebellion. This skill is based on the idea that one of the big draws of addictive behaviour is that it is risky, elicit, and kind of exciting. Engaging in alcohol use, drug use, gambling, and so on, can be a way to rebel against societal conventions. This is not the case for all people, but for some people, being a bit of a rebel is one of the bonuses of engaging in addictive behaviour. For these people, the skill of alternate rebellion involves finding an alternative way to rebel – a way that does not involve harmful addictive behaviour.

Below is a useful video that describes DBT:

DBT, substance abuse, ways forward ⬆⬆.

I am working on this and I guess it will be a work in progress for some time ⬆⬆

I "think" I have this sussed ⬆⬆

I'm all over this ⬆⬆

I don't need this ⬆⬆


Session slides:

Hopeless relationships!

I have had to face some painful truths and agonizing decisions and burn bridges and try to create new ones only for some of them to be burned by others.

I'm in situation right now where I have to burn a bridge I don't want to but I know I have to and so I will, with sadness. Some people won't change.


Relationships are not easy for and this an area of work I am focusing on improving in regards to my own toxic cluster fucks. I am aware.

That shit stays in my private journal though. A painful journey.

As above further up this blog entry. ⬆⬆

On it ⬆⬆

On it ⬆⬆

Exactly, "at what cost?". The consequences of toxic habits, relationships, actions and even people juts don't seem worth it anymore. They just fuck your life up. ⬆⬇

Burning Bridges Worksheet:

Practice Practice Practice......


This is a good article I stumbled upon:

How to Burn your Bridges with People and in Life


Bridge burning –  to destroy one’s path, connections, reputation, opportunities, particularly intentionally – is generally undervalued.

More than that, we are actively discouraged from bridge burning. If we are dismissed from our jobs, we are cautioned to avoid being ungraceful on our departures, since ‘you never know what can happen in future’. We avoid clear endings in romantic situations too, generally preferring to ‘keep our options open’.

But what if you have a pretty good idea of what can happen in future, and it is precisely that which you want to avoid? In such cases, bridge burning is the desired option.

Plus, there are some real consequences to being weak about this. 

The biggest problem is we cannot keep a door open in life, without leaving a door open in our minds. And that weakens any resolve we may develop regarding what kind of lives we want, with whom, and with which types of experiences. 

This post is about how to embrace endings. 

How burning bridges looks across 3 life areas

Let’s look at what it means to burn bridges:

1. In relationships. In dating scenarios, long term relationships, and friendships, burning bridges might mean communicating honestly your dissatisfaction, dislike, disinterest or desire to terminate the relationship when the situation calls for it. Respectfully, of course.  It is not being mean. Rather, it is leaving no uncertainty in the other person’s mind about your feelings or opinions on a situation. 

2. At work. In your career or in business, it might mean saying no to opportunities that don’t build your vision. There is an excellent example of bridge burning in a career context in the book Essentialism, the Disciplined Pursuit of Less, which features in this list of 35 Self-Development books to read ASAP:

Herb Kelleher, who led Southwest airlines for years, made very deliberate trade-offs; decisions he was lambasted for. Rather than fly to every destination like rival flight companies, he kept flights point-to-point. So that they didn’t have to jack up prices, SW never served meals, or allowed customers to choose seats. Herb was able to do that because he had clarity of purpose. In other words, he was clear about the end result he was trying to achieve.

3. In our general life path. In life, burning bridges might look like decisive action about how to invest money, or which area of the country, or world, to live in. For example, by choosing to invest all of your savings in a house, you are burning your bridges on the possibility of investing that money in a business idea. 

Why burning bridges brings up a lot of fear.

Why is bridge burning hard for a lot of us? We:

  1. care too much about being liked.

  2. lack clarity of vision.

  3. haven’t learned to trust ourselves.

Flipping those around then, successfully burning bridges requires that we:

Are willing not be liked. With relationships, bridge burning involves being direct with people when the situation calls for it, and risking not being liked, misunderstood, or even criticized and blamed. This is a deep fear for most people. And it is definitely a trade off. But it is one that we all must be willing to make if we want to experience the psychological benefits that come with feeling fully responsible in life.  Have a clear vision of what you want. If we lack a clear vision of how we want life to look across life areas, then we will struggle a lot with bridge burning. We will be too full of doubt, and too uncertain, about whether we will want to pursue a situation or a person. So it is essential to build our self awareness to a point where we can easily identify our values. 

Trust in our own intuition and decision making. Many of us don’t trust our own judgment for whatever reason. We can cultivate greater trust in ourselves and our intuition over time.

Resolve and commitment.

Burning bridges is a real ally when we are resolved and committed to something. And resolve and commitment are how we make the things we want in life manifest.  “Resolve means it’s done,” said coach Tony Robbins. “It’s done inside [your heart], therefore it’s done [in the real world.]” When you are resolved, there is no question whatsoever. Our decision has been made. It is sometimes negatively referred to as ‘bloody mindedness’ Very few people make this level of decision. We are generally unwilling to leave ourselves without an escape route. But this keeps us procrastinating and frustrated.  When we don’t make definite decisions about what we’re going to do, we are bobbing about by the tide. Also, we’ll be swayed by external conditions and overpowered by other people’s resolve. 

Rebuilding bridges.

Sometimes we burn our bridges and regret it. That’s bound to happen sometimes. 

Why might you want to rebuild bridges?

Because you realized you ended a relationship with a person who made your life better. Or because the work you thought you wanted to do, isn’t what you want to do really.  Rebuilding bridges is its own set of skills. It takes courage and speaking from a position of sincerity and authenticity. You might get rejected, but dealing with rejection is another necessity in the life playground. 


Burning bridges isn’t something we should avoid doing. 

We can train ourselves to welcome it and even enjoy it.

Good read from:

⬇⬇ Lessons learned and this video talks about some harsh lessons I have learned (finally). Burn the fucking bridges:

I was the toxic person this video talks about. Me. ⬆⬆.

🛑 There is more to be added to this entry soon.

Ha! ⬆⬇

Oh, and this, because its relevant and I just love it ⬇⬇

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