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Challenge Black and White Thinking Through Dialectics

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)  is all about *you guessed it* Dialectics. And if you don’t know what Dialectics are read on…

Dialectics is the concept that two beliefs or ideas can be seemingly contradictory but both true *at the same time.* So it can be sunny out and still cold. I can feel excited about a vacation and nervous about traveling. I can love my family and still get frustrated or hurt by them sometimes. 

If we saw the world this way, tolerating all the grey areas of life and relationships, we’d be a whole lot better off. Instead, we often see the world as “black and white.” But turns out, our brain loves to put things into categories- good and bad- easy and hard- motivated and lazy. The truth is so much more complex.

Probably the hardest area to practice this grey-area thinking is with our emotions. We’re taught that certain emotions are “bad” based on how people react to them, tolerate them, and reinforce or punish them. And our comfort in putting black and white labels on just about everything can make us feel wrong for feeling a way that’s anything more than simple and straightforward. 

On a day like Father’s Day, it’s so important that we take a step back and validate the emotions we are feeling, regardless of whether we can put these emotions in neat, pretty boxes. With family, it’s normal to feel a range of complex emotions, and while today may be a day of celebration for some, it also may be a day of mourning or anger for others. 

If you struggle with practicing this in your life, remind yourself of these truths:

  1. I am valid for feeling the way I’m feeling
  2. There’s no right or wrong way to feel
  3. My feelings makes sense
  4. My feelings are not “too much”
  5. I’m allowed to feel my emotions, even if it makes other people uncomfortable

Self-validation is perhaps the most important skill we can use each and every day to deal with and manage our emotions. It’s something that takes practice and repetition – and oftentimes something we have to learn! Don’t give up on trying to integrate self-validation into your life. 

Photo by Paola Aguilar on Unsplash

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