I like to think that I have the talent of finding what is wrong with most things and why there is nothing wrong with everything else. Try me. You can mention anything and I can tell you why it’s one hundred percent correct or absolutely wrong. Sadly, the DSM labels this behavior as black and white thinking.
Recently, I found myself attending a class to learn very practical skills. The teacher taught about a skill called “Dialectical Thinking” The idea is that often times, two seemingly opposing concepts or viewpoints can find mutual ground. For example, someone could give money or items to help people they have never met and other people build relationship with people and help through this relationship. My mind says, “Ok i need to pick one OR the other…only one can be truly helpful.” “Dialectical Thinking” says, “How can both of them work together?” Thus, those who build intentional relationships likely need money from someone so that they can build relationships. In reality, one depends on the other.
It’s interesting that I would learn this skill from my particular teacher. When I came to her organization for a different group, she did my initial intake. I took to her quickly. She said something that impacted me in a way that still affects me 8 months later. I saw her off and on throughout that first group. When I moved to the new group, I gladly found out that she would teach me. Over six months, I learned a number of different skills, including “Dialectical Thinking.”
On my last day, I came to class with a Thank You Card for her and a few other people who helped me. However, she was not there. The next week I learned that she had fallen from grace and the thud as she hit the bottom still rings in my ears. As I tried to wrap my mind around what happened, I felt angry, frustrated, confused and sad. Over the following weeks, I have learned that regardless of where my teacher finds herself or whatever she has done, she still helped me and I still respect how she did.