DBT Peer Connections

Building Hope, Community and Skillful Means

An Introduction to Dialectical Thinking According to DBT

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Dialectical Thinking Diagram by Rachel Gill

To say that something is right or wrong is a moral judgment, a subjectively realized opinion. In other words, what may be right to you may be wrong to me and vice verse. For this reason, a primary objective in dialectical thinking is to eliminate unnecessary judgments. However, this is not to say that judging has no purpose.

To the contrary, judgments are a necessary means to human survival. Every day we make important judgments that help shape the course of our future like putting on a seat-belt before driving or waiting for the proper signal before entering a crosswalk. Rather, what dialectics is targeting in the context of judgments is an inflexibility of mind, black and white thinking.

In dialectical thinking, there is a conscious intent to build awareness to one’s own and others personal judgments. Through this state of awareness, one becomes able to realize, acknowledge, and then radically accept all points of view. To accept does not necessarily mean to agree with but rather to let go of all resistance to reality as it is.

Instead of tying oneself up in the misery of what one thinks life should or should not be, the wise mind realizes that life is just as it is regardless of how it causes one to feel. Although emotions are important and powerful, they may likewise convince us our beliefs and judgments are somehow greater or less than reality, this may be because our morals and values are things we tend to feel strongly about.

Therefore, rather than committing to judge oneself and others in a divisive or self-defeating manner, through the process of mindfulness, dialectical thinking, and reality acceptance, one not only reduces his or her psychological suffering, but opens the mind to the possibility of change. This balance of acceptance and change is a synthesis of wise mind and defines what it means to be dialectical.


Author: Rachel Gill

I am a survivor on mission to synthesize balance from division, to find dialectical healing, learn to love what I am feeling, live in the now, show my peers how.

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