Finding Balance with Dialectics

Finding Balance with Dialectics

It is mid-January and we are already well into a new year. It is at this point where the resolutions are not as attractive as they were a couple weeks ago. If this is true for you, it is completely human, and you are not alone.

You can desire to change and be resistant—it’s dialectics. However, rather than beat yourself up over not attaining whatever goal you set, how about embracing dialectics and just search for some balance?

In Dialectical Behavior Therapy, dialectics is a foundational concept used when approaching the environment, ourselves and others. Dialectics is a method of holding two opposing positions at the same time. It is embracing the yin and the yang of life, the positive and the negative, or the light and the dark.

By holding both, you acknowledge that opposite forces exist in any situation, and this can lead to feeling more aligned. It is also the cognitive and emotional place where we can find our intuition and inner wisdom (in DBT terms, also known as “wise mind”).

At the same time, I honor that this is an extremely hard concept to do (You see? More dialectics!). Nor do we have to exist in that state of mind all the time. We humans strive to attain balance while living in this dichotomous chaotic world. However, when we are not in balance, then we can be in a place of tension and conflict…and that typically does not feel good.

Therefore, start by accepting that it’s the act of setting the intention of balance that is the goal and then do your best to find it.

Here are some ideas of how to find your balance through dialectical opposition:

  • Substitute the word “but” with “and.”  This one is a DBT favorite, and it is easy to do. Catch yourself when you use the word “but” and replace it with “and.”  For instance, instead of saying “I am doing the best I can, but I want to change,” say “I am doing the best I can AND I am trying to change.”
  • Task yourself with being the attorney for the opposing view. Just like a lawyer, you don’t have to believe your client, but you do need to see and understand their perspective in order to represent them. This act can shift you out of your own experience in order to separate yourself from one side of an issue. Again, you do not have to agree, you just need to mentally hold the other perspective at the same time you have your own.
  • Move away from an extreme perspective and “all or nothing” thinking. Use mindfulness to notice your thoughts and watch to see if you are using words such as “always” and “never.” Then check the facts to see if your thoughts are true. For example: Does your friend always show up late? Does your partner never tell you how they are feeling? Maybe the truth is somewhere in between and the balanced view is more accurate.
  • Balance your body. Stand upright on both feet (or sit in firm chair) evenly distributing the weight of your body. Notice the weight between both feet (or both sit-bones). First, breathe in and lean forward. Then exhale and return back to center. Next, inhale and lean back; exhale return to center. Then, to the right, center, left, center. Each time you go one way inhale, then exhale and return to the middle and evenly distribute your balance between both sides.

Keeping the concept of balance in the forefront of your mind, reminds your body and mind about the concept of finding the middle path. This, in turn, will provide yourself with stability when approaching the new year and the life adventures that await you.

Authored by:  Alison Trenk, MA, LCSW