You Can Have Both

I feel like I am living in a place of duality and I can go from having so much hope and then I instantly question why the world is the way it is, and despair creeps in. We currently live in a world where the pandemic is coming to an end (hopefully) and there is joy and hope for the future. Within this however there is also fear and worry about what this means for us. Summer is bringing the sunshine and the natural benefits of vitamin D and camaraderie. And yet people are still struggling, they may not be telling you they are but beneath those smiles sometimes can be pain. We have a lot of questions for the near future: What does ‘going back’ to the office or work look like? How will socializing go with others?

When we ponder this we often turn to black and white thinking. Most of us grew up thinking things are either good or bad, happy or sad. In fact, our brains actually like to think like this, we actually have to work hard to create a grey area and make up additional narratives to this or that. This thinking is problematic because I can be incredibly grateful for my life and feel sad or frustrated about events in it at the same time. The key word in this sentence is “and” and it can make a big difference in your life. Consider this, our parents did the best they good and may have also taught us some unhealthy behaviours and habits. We can make a mistake in life and still be a good person. The ability to embrace this simple word stops us from globalizing ourselves and the world around us. This is called dialectical thinking and it allows us to see the good and also to acknowledge the difficulties or the challenges we face. It supports the idea that we can consider multiple perspectives before finding reasoning in our thoughts. Marsha Linehan the creator of Dialectical Behavioural Therapy defines it as “a synthesis or integration of opposites.”

How can use this simple word to make a difference in our lives? Well if we return to the questions posed at the beginning of this article, we can consider that a return to the office might be a welcome change and it might feel overwhelming. That is okay. We might be excited to socialize with others and need to leave after an hour. That is also okay. The next time you find yourself being really hard on yourself when your inner critic wants you to only see the story in one light, take a breath and think of all the possibilities that might exist. Sometimes it can be helpful to use your hand to come up with all the different perspectives of a situation. You can for sure use one finger to play out the negative scenario your critic wants you to believe and you have to come up with other options as well. It is quite possible at the end that two possibilities may be right.

You may have to own that you were unkind to someone and that does not mean you need to spend the rest of your day beating yourself up for being a terrible person. You can be unkind in moments and own your stuff and know there is a reason behind it. You can have both.

The content provided in this article is for information purposes only. It is not meant as a substitute for professional medical or psychological advice, diagnosis, or treatment. If you find yourself in distress, please reach out to your local physician who can provide mental health resources in your community.