Walking the middle path is a dialectical behavior therapy skill developed to help people bridge the gap in communicating with others. Walking the middle path replaces the “either-or” thinking with “both-and” thinking. We often make up ours mind and become concrete in our thinking. By only viewing a decision through one lens, we hinder our relationships with other by not being able to validate their experience. It is natural to think that we are right, and they are wrong in arguments.
In a dialectical approach there is appreciation for that there is always more than one way to view something. When we expand our lens, we are able to see each perspective as an opinion rather than an absolute truth. When we walk the middle line, we leave room for compromise. By creating compromise, we validate our own feelings and those of another, which creates a harmonious balance.
By: Katrin Steinert
DBT stands for Dialectal Behavior Therapy and was created in the 1990s by Marsha Linehan. Linehan was inspired to create DBT after she worked with chronically suicidal and borderline personality disordered patients. She recognized that having a one-way conversation with patients who suffer from chronic mental illnesses was not working.
In creating DBT she took principles from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and interjected eastern philosophies to her approach. DBT is comprised of four modules which include mindfulness, interpersonal effectiveness, emotional regulation, and distress tolerance. Each module is then broken down into easy applicable skills to help clients regulate their emotions. By creating these modules, Linehan hoped to create tools for clients who were suffering from lack of confidence and unable to think positively through their treatment.
In creating the dialect of acceptance and change, Linehan hoped to create enough space for the patients to see that their situations were not always hopeless and there was a life worth living. Today, DBT is not only effective with patients who suffer from borderline personality disorder but for an array of diagnoses.
Many people are familiar with Ralph Waldo Emerson’s quote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” It’s a quote that inspires people to enjoy the present moment and avoid the pitfalls of becoming overly focused on the future. A predominant approach in mental and physical health is mindfulness and meditation, a focus on the here and now. If you spend too much time worrying about the future and not enjoying the present, then you should focus on the journey, not the destination. However, if you feel stuck in the present, then maybe some focus on a destination can bring you some relief.
An Argument to be made for the Destination
Destination focus can be a positive coping mechanism when used it the right way. The following are some examples of healthy destination focus:
When Destination Becomes an Unhealthy Focus
The destination becomes an unhealthy focus when you make your happiness contingent on future success. For example, “I will be happy when…” (a) I get a promotion (b) I graduate school (c) I find a partner (d) I lose 10 lbs. If you make your current happiness contingent on future success, then you will miss the opportunity to enjoy the present. The future is an illusion because it has not happened yet. If you are going to focus on the future, it should be about enriching the present. Looking forward to a vacation you have planned is a way of enjoying the present moment because you can derive pleasure from thinking about it in the present.
It is the Journey, but the Destination has its place in the present
Life is the journey, but there are times when the journey is a struggle and reminding ourselves that pleasure, relaxation, and relief is around the corner can help alleviate suffering in the present.
How your false idea about control may be damaging to you
What are Control Fallacies?
Control Fallacies are when you have a false belief about having too much control over things that are out of your control or when you believe that you have no control over anything in your life. There are two types of control fallacies: (1) the belief that you have no control over your life and that you are a helpless victim of fate, and (2) that you have complete control over yourself, your surroundings, and the feelings of others.
The World is Against Me
The no control fallacy can lead to feelings of helplessness and low motivation. If you feel like the world is against you and there is nothing you can do about it, then you may be falling into the no control fallacy trap. Even in extreme situations where you may have no choices, you still have a certain amount of control over how you approach the situation mentally.
Everything is My Fault
The complete control fallacy can lead to feelings of anger, frustration, disappointment, and shame. The more you try to control things that are out of your control, the more frustrated and disappointed you will be. If you frequently blame yourself for how others are feelings, then you may be falling into the complete control fallacy trap.
How to Release Yourself from the Control Fallacy Trap
The first step to releasing yourself from the control fallacy trap is to identify which of the two traps you are stuck in. Do you feel like the world is against you or do you blame yourself for the emotions of others?
Empower Yourself by Taking Back Some Control (no control counter)
If you are stuck in the no control fallacy trap, it can be empowering to discover that you have more control than you think you do. For example, in states where euthanasia is legal, patients with terminal illness report that being able to choose when and how they die gives them a sense of control over the final stage of their life. If you are stuck in a job that you don’t like and you can’t afford to leave, there may be other areas of your life that you can tweak to improve self-care. At the very least you can reframe some of your negative thoughts into more self-compassionate thoughts.
Find Relief by Letting Go (complete control counter)
If you are stuck in the complete control fallacy trap, it’s relieving to discover that you are not responsible for the emotions of others. Yes, what you do and what you say does impact others. It’s commendable to take responsibility for that. If you are in the complete control fallacy trap, then you are taking too much responsibility for things that are out of your control. Let others be responsible for themselves. Stop blaming yourself for things that are not your fault. Stop trying to change things that you cannot change. If you are struggling with identifying what is in your control vs not in your control, it can be helpful to get feedback from others. As the saying goes: “Two heads are better than one.”
By: Ranjita Rao
How many times have you been overwhelmed with a million different things going on at once? And in these scenarios, how many times have you actually asked others for help?
This situation most likely happens more than you would like to admit. I hear all the time from individuals how much they would like to ask for help and yet how hard it is for them to actually do it. Maybe it’s because you are worried about being a burden, maybe you see it as a sign of weakness, or maybe it’s simply because you struggle with how to ask for help. Here are some tips to make asking for help much easier!
One of the skills presented in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT) is called the states of mind. The states of mind are broken up into a Venn diagram which include the rational mind, the emotional mind and the wise mind. As people, we are always vacillating between the three different states.
Rational Mind: When we are thinking in our rational mind we are thinking logically, unemotionally, and trying to reach our objectives. If we were to think of rational mind as a color it would be blue. It is cool, calm and collected. The benefits of being in rational mind are it is our "doing" mind. Without rational mind, we would not be able build roads, solve problems or complete tasks. The downsides to rational mind are it is harder to connect with others and unable to feel emotions including joy.
Emotional Mind: Emotional mind is our instinct. Emotion mind helps us think instinctually and follow our gut. You feel your emotion mind taking over when our emotions are ruling our actions. If emotion mind were a color it would red. It is hot, fiery and impulsive. The benefits to emotion mind are intense devotion, which keeps motivation for hard tasks. The downsides to emotion mind are it can lead to emotional outbursts, prolonged suffering of intense emotions and impulsivity that results in wrong decisions.
Wise Mind: Wise mind is the synthesis between the rational mind and the emotional mind. You cannot overcome rational mind with emotional mind and vice versa. The goal with wise mind is to recognize the facts with the rational mind and validate the emotional experience with emotion mind to come up with the best solution.
How this Cognitive Distortion could be Negatively Impacting your Relationship
What it is…
Mind Reading is when you assume you know what your partner is thinking or feeling before they express it to you. It’s when you stop listening to your partner because you assume you know how their statement will end. It’s when you cut them off and finish their sentence for them because you assume you know what they are going to say.
Why it is a problem…
Mind Reading is a problem because it makes your partner feel like what they have to say it not important to you. Even if your assumption or prediction is correct, you still need to let them communicate it to you. Part of processing thoughts and feelings is formulating sentences without having someone else do it for you. Your role is to actively listen to what they are saying, especially because they may share something that you were not expecting or predicting. Maybe they are taking responsibility for their role in a recent argument rather than blaming you like they have done in the past.
What to do instead…
Instead of Mind Reading, try active listening. Face your partner and make eye contact. Listen without judging or jumping to conclusions. Stay focused. Don’t start planning what to say next. Don’t interrupt or assume that you know what they are thinking or feeling. Actively engage in the process of listening.
By: Ranjita Rao
Change does not occur by doing nothing. Often, we believe that if they wait for change, it will eventually occur. As much as we want to believe that change can occur magically, oftentimes we need to actually be proactive in the changes we make. It may seem daunting, but if we break it down, it can become a lot more manageable. Look at areas in your life that you would like to improve, and set micro-goals for yourself. Little actions can not only change the way you feel day-to-day, but can gradually help make bigger changes in your life.
Be realistic about your goals. While micro- goals can help build toward bigger goals, it’s important that we be realistic about them. When setting goals, be sure to set goals that can actually be achieved. After you have a realistic goal for yourself, be sure to break it down into smaller more achievable goals to fit into your timeline. Not only will this feel less stressful for you, but will also create feelings of success every time you achieve your micro-goals, leading so more daily satisfaction.
Why You Should Avoid Them
How They are Damaging Your Relationships
What are Negative Interpretations?
A negative interpretation is when you or someone else (particularly your partner) consistently believes the motives of the other are more negative than they actually are. For example, if your partner forgets to take out the trash and you interpret this behavior as intentionally malicious or selfish on their part. Or if you are late to meet up with someone (maybe traffic was bad or maybe you struggle with compulsively making sure all the doors are locked before you leave) and they interpret your lateness as an intentional choice on your part to disrespect them and they time they have put into scheduling a meetup with you.
Give People You Love the Benefit of the Doubt
Often, there is a rational explanation for why the people you love do the things they do that frustrate you, and usually these reasons are not intentionally malicious or negative. Giving someone the benefit of the doubt goes both ways and there are ample opportunities throughout every interaction to see the perspective of your loved one.
For example, let’s say you are late to meet up with your loved one because your anxiety causes you to compulsively make sure everything in your home was secure before you left. You arrive late and your loved one is frustrated and angry with you. Your loved one makes a negative interpretation of your behavior and says, “you are inconsiderate, selfish, and lazy.”
You notice this triggers an emotional response inside of you that in turn gives rise to your own negative interpretation of your loved one’s verbal criticism. Your think to yourself, “my loved one is an aggressive jerk and is incapable of understanding the struggles of others” (negative interpretation). You now have a choice: (1) to match your loved one’s negative interpretation with your own negative interpretation (an eye for an eye) or (2) think about a rational explanation for why your loved one is behaving in that way, read in-between the lines of what they are communicating, and validate how they are feeling. Maybe your loved one has past issues with people letting them down and not following through with what they said they would do. Maybe your tardiness has triggered that issue for them. Maybe they need you to understand that about them.
Of course, you also need them to understand that your anxiety contributed to why you were late, that you are not a selfish, inconsiderate, and lazy person. You can communicate that need to them once they calm down and feel validated that you understand them.
Be Mindful of When Negative Interpretations are Entering Your Thoughts
Negative interpretations are pervasive in our society. It’s easier to villainize others for their behavior than it is to understand why they do what they do. It takes extra work and thoughtfulness on your part to come up with rational explanations for why people do things. This is especially important with your significant other, but it extends to relationships with family and friends as well. The more effort you put into understanding why your loved one does what they do, the more empathy you can have for their process, and the more you show them that you understand and accept them for it, the closer your bond will be.
Most of us spend more than half of our lives working. There is a lot of pressure to find the right career path, to become successful and create our perfect working environment. With all these pressures can create a pressure cooker of balancing the perfect job with the perfect after work life. Here are three tips on how to reduce burn out when you are feeling overwhelmed at work.