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Dialectical Thinking

Inspiration for this week: Black and White Thinking

I find myself hearing a lot of black and white talk from my clients. "I hate my ex for cheating on me, but I also miss him and the way he made me feel," "My sister is my best friend, but she also can really upset me," "I need to get a job and be more financially stable, and therefore I shouldn't enjoy the freedom I have with more time on my hands." 

We often think about things in very binary ways. If I feel one way, I cannot have another sense of feeling. If I choose one pathway, the other path is dead and gone. If I make a decision, it must be binding and final. And then what happens? Well, when we put such restrictive parameters on ourselves, we often feel trapped. And that entrapment can paralyze us from moving forward on any decisions, or leave some unacknowledged feelings festering and causing resentments later. We end up punishing ourselves for the way we feel, pushing down unwanted feelings, and avoiding growth opportunities because we fear we'll make the wrong decision.

Theme of the Week- Dialectical Thinking

Dialectical thinking means that the universe is filled with opposing sides and opposing forces. There is always more than one way to see a situation, and more than one way to solve a problem. Two things that seem like opposites can both be true. Dialectical thinking refers to the ability to view issues from multiple perspectives and to arrive at the most economical and reasonable reconciliation of seemingly contradictory information and postures. - Marsha Linehan, DBT

How does one go about dialectical thinking? First, we must accept and acknowledge that two ideas can be true at the same time. We need to adopt a "yes, and" mindset over a "either-or" mindset. Here are some examples of dialectical thinking: *You are right AND the other person is also right* *You are doing the best that you can AND you need to try harder and stay motivated* *You can take care of yourself AND you need the help and support of others* We want to make sure we stay away from extreme words like "always, never, everyone, no-one." For example, instead of saying "everyone always leaves me", try saying, "I have had some relationships that ended and I also have friends and family that stick by me."

Challenge this week: Adopt a "yes, and" mentality

I want you to think wisely about your words throughout the week. Are you using extreme words such as always and never? Are you only allowing yourself to believe in one truth at a time? If you catch yourself in these traps, try rephrasing it around to accept and include all possible truths. "I am angry at my ex and the breakup and I also miss the good parts of our relationship." "I can look for new jobs that also afford me the opportunity to enjoy the things I love." "My sister can frustrate me at times and I love our deep connection." I wonder how much lighter you may feel without all that extra pressure and expectations!

dana renee counseling
(407) 476-9666
[email protected]

I have a virtual office servicing
FL and PA statewide

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8:00 am-5:00 pm


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