Dialectical Thinking for Moms

Dialectical thinking is a concept that comes from Dialectical behavior therapy (or DBT), a treatment developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan.

Is it a spoon or a fork? It’s a spoon AND a fork…It’s a spork! 

I’m always looking for easy-to-understand ways to explain “dialectical thinking”. This type of thinking is intended to support us when we’re experiencing overwhelming feelings through integrating opposite ideas. In other words, two opposing thoughts or feelings can be true and coexist at the same time. Many moms struggle with “black-or-white-thinking” (e.g. I was successful OR I failed, I’m a good mom OR a bad mom, I love my body OR I hate my body). When we allow ourselves to recognize this coexistence of opposites, rather than force our emotions to fit inside a tiny box , we are able to experience a sense of freedom that comes with feeling how you feel and it often can lead to healthier and more satisfying relationships too (e.g. Some parts of my day were successful AND some parts were challenging, Sometimes I feel like a good mom AND sometimes I don’t show up as my best self, I love parts of my body AND I’m not the biggest fan of other parts of my body). 

The other day while my toddler son was eating breakfast, he pointed to his utensil. 

“Fork?”, he asked me, as he pointed to one end. 

I nodded. 

“Spoon?”, he asked me, as he pointed to the other end. 

I nodded again. “Well, yes…it’s both”.

“Spork!”, he proudly stated.

Look at that, I guess opposites really can be true