The wisdom of dialectical thinking

I think that many people – no matter what their diagnosis or personality type – can tend towards absolute or black-and-white thinking:  It’s either this or that.  I’m either good or bad.   I’m right.  You’re wrong.

The foundation of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is dialectics.  In this context, dialectics explore the idea that two seemingly opposing concepts or opinions can both be true.

In terms of dictionary definitions, dialectical is:

“… the process of thought by which apparent contradictions are seen to be part of a higher truth.”
–The Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition, 2009

“ The process or art of reasoning through discussion of conflicting ideas.”
– The Merriam-Webster Dictionary, Home and Office Edition, 1998

Some pieces of dialectical wisdom I’ve gained over the past year:

People can generally be kind, and not act kindly towards everyone.

An organization can do work that I consider meaningful, and that does not necessarily mean it is a good fit for me.  I can support the work they’re doing and not be involved.

I can respectfully listen to someone’s opinion and still disagree with it.

In resolving an old conflict with a friend, we can both be right.

I can be frustrated with someone and still want to spend time with them.

I can love someone even when I’ve fallen out of contact with them.

My SPD can often make it challenging to be in loud, stimulating environments and I can still enjoy going to see live music.

I can feel sad and still have hope.


2 responses to this post.

  1. “We can both be right” is relevant to me right now. Just had a conversation with my therapist about a comment a friend made that irritated me, because she seemed to be supporting a random stranger instead of me. But both our perspectives on the situation are valid. Both can be true at the same time.


  2. Posted by Kneelynn on January 27, 2016 at 7:44 pm

    How very insightful!


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