How do you live life dialectally? This is a challenging way to live life, but there are merits as it will allow you to open your mind to new possibilities.
Living life dialectically means not viewing life in black or white scenarios, but considering all sides of the various situations that occur in your life. As humans, we are not merely happy or sad, or right or wrong, or strong or weak. There are nuances to our emotions and feelings. Also, there may be situations in life where the opposite side of a situation may be just as true as the side that we are on.
With the study of Dialectical Behavior Therapy, often referred to as DBT, we learn that more than one side can exist and we should be open to both sides in many situations.
How do we do live life dialectically? First, we can take a flexible stance in life when making decisions and when it comes to our relationships with others. When in a dialogue or argument, it is helpful to consider the other person’s point of view. Remember that their concerns are valid. Develop a clear understanding of the problem or issue being discussed.
Then work on forging a compromise and generating a new solution that attempts to address all concerns. Keeping in mind the old adage to treat others as you would want to be treated is helpful when relating to others. Recognize that we are all connected and focus on similarities, not differences.
Here is a look at some situations where living dialectically may be helpful:
Change. You may want to make changes in your life but at the same time keep elements of the old. You need to be honest with yourself and realize the extent of change that will accept in your life. Nurture a flexible mind as being curious is conducive to situations that involve change.
Ask for help from others. Friends and family may have faced similar changes before and may have advice and guidance to help you with this new challenge in your life. Being able to readily adjust your course when making decisions or when facing a change in your life will prove helpful.
Politics. Politics is clearly an area that involves the need for dialectical thinking. We can accept aspects of a candidate while not admiring their other characteristics. A candidate may support the state of Israel, but be conservative fiscally. In our society, we tend to feel that an individual must solely support all candidates in one political party but it may be possible to like candidates from both parties.
Social media. We can view both positive and negative aspects of social media. We don’t need to say that this form of communication is all good or bad. It is an avenue where people can meet others and stay abreast of developments in the lives of friends.
At the same time, it can also be associated with bullying. People may become depressed when they believe that the images posted portray factual interpretations of the lives of friends and acquaintances. We may enjoy the ability to buy items online but not like the fact that companies can track our buying patterns.
Living dialectically takes patience, skill and the ability to look at both sides to a situation. Take time to learn more about this approach to life and try to use it when dealing with relationships, changes, political issues and social media. Realize that most stories have two beginnings and endings.
Marcy Shoemaker, Psy.D., is a staff psychologist at Abramson Center.