Borderline Personality Disorder,  DBT,  DBT-FST

DBT Tip of the Day: Understanding Dialectics

Dialectics or walking the middle path

Dialectics requires a balance of viewpoints
Dialectics requires a balance of viewpoints

The concept of dialectics comes from philosophy in which two opposing points (the thesis and the antithesis) are brought together in a new understanding of the concept at hand, through a synthesis of these opposing view points. DBT seeks to moderate the black-and-white thinking that people with BPD and all of us sometimes get into. Here are some hints about thinking dialectically:

  1. Shift from either-or to both-and thinking. Avoid the polarized words like always, never, every time and you made me. Be descriptive of the situation without judging the situation as good or bad. Example: “My father always treats me unfairly” becomes “Sometimes my father treats me unfairly and at other times he treats me fairly.”
  2. Look at all sides of a situation and use varying points of view. Find the meaning in each side and understand the reason another person my have a different view of the situation. Try to see the situation through other people’s eyes. (Keep on your TOES – through other’s eyes).
  3. No one has absolute truth when it comes to interpersonal situations. All truth is colored by a person’s beliefs and feelings. Be open to alternative explanations.
  4. Use “I feel…” statements, instead of “you are…” or “that’s the way it is…” statements. Rather than “you are always so mean to me” say “I feel you are being mean to me right now. That makes me feel angry.” A statement of feelings is most often true, whether or not the situation is being looked at dialectically.
  5. Accept that different viewpoints may be valid, even if you do not agree with them.
  6. Do not assume that you know what other people are thinking. Check your assumptions by asking. Ask, don’t tell.
  7. Do not expect others to know what you’re thinking or feeling.

Dialectical thinking requires a balance of viewpoints and a synthesis of feelings and opinions. It requires that you open your mind to other ways of thinking.

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