Sometimes during times of adversity, we can experience the phenomenon of two opposite feelings, ideas, values, or facts coexisting in our minds. Some examples of this can be being angry at a loved one- while simultaneously missing them, or feeling guilty over making a choice- while knowing that you’re making the right choice.
These coexisting opposites are referred to in Psychology as Dialectics. Our mental health can be heavily determined by how we accept the dialectics that confront us.
Dialectics are two opposing things being true at once, and opposites that are integrated can lead a person to greater truths about themselves and others. Therapists are trained to teach people how to recognize when a dialectic situation is occurring, to then encourage self-compassion and acceptance of interconnected thoughts.
One way of doing this is by focusing on the word AND. Below are some examples of dialectics using AND:
- You can be disappointed in someone AND love them.
- You can understand where someone’s behavior comes from AND be hurt by them.
- You can want to be with someone AND know that you need to be apart.
- You can be afraid of change AND be excited for it.
- You can be doing the best you can AND continue to try harder.
- You can feel broken AND know that you will get through this.
Interpersonal conflicts, changes, grief, loss, and growth can leave room for dialectics to enter our thoughts. Instead of trying to fight the coexistence of two truths, we can accept them and treat ourselves and others with understanding.
“The shuttling to and fro of arguments and affects represents the transcendent function of opposites. The confrontation of the two positions generates a tension charged with energy and creates a living, third thing … a movement out of the suspension between the opposites, a living birth that leads to a new level of being, a new situation.”- Carl Jung