Getting Back to Normal(ish) part 2
This is part two of my series on skills that might be useful to us as the world continues to re-open after a global pandemic. The first skill I want to talk about is dialectical thinking, part of DBT therapy developed by Marsha Linehan. Dialectical thinking is about bringing together opposites and realizing that more than one thing can be true at the same time. I personally have friends from all different backgrounds and beliefs. I have friends who are anti-maskers, I have friends who are anti-vaxers, I have friends who are like myself and believe that wearing a mask and getting a Vaccine are the right choice for us. In having conversations with them, they all have their reasons and arguments for why they believe what they believe and feel they are making the right choice. It can be hard to have difficult conversations like these and I find that no matter how much I try to avoid these topics, they inevitably come up. Dialectical thinking involves recognizing that we are all entitled to our own opinions and beliefs and that differing opinions can be equally valid. It involves learning new information and being flexible with these opinions and beliefs.
I want to share an example from my own personal life. As I mentioned in the previous article, I made the choice for myself to get vaccinated. I also have an underlying medical condition that may or may have not been exacerbated by the vaccine and resulted in several weeks of fairly severe nausea as well as a recent Shingles diagnosis. I am not 100% certain whether this was related to the vaccine or just a coincidence but it did make me take time to think about the pros and cons of getting the vaccine, which also happens to be another DBT skill. It also helped me to understand why some people are choosing not to get vaccinated or worried about side effects. When making important decisions, it is imperative to really think through the positive and negative potential consequences and then make the best decision you can.
This brings me to another skills which is known as wise mind. Wise mind is the idea that we all know deep down the best decisions to make. However, sometimes we might make a decision that is more impulsive because of our emotions or logic. The funny thing about wise mind is that because we all have different values and belief systems, what my wise mind tells me to do might be different from your wise mind, but that does not make my wise mind any better or worse than yours. If we make decisions based upon our wise mind weighing out the costs and benefits, then that is the best that we can do. And if other people make decisions that might be different from us, that doesn’t make them any better or worse than us. We are all doing the best we can with what we are given.
I am happy to see that COVID numbers appear to be improving as the world re-opens, and I also know there are still difficult decisions that lie ahead. I know that soon I will be faced with whether or not to vaccinate my children at their young ages. I worry more about potential long term consequences to them that I do for my older self. I also trust that in doing my own research and weighing out the pros and cons, I will be able to come to the best decision for myself and my family. If you are struggling with any of these life decisions and feel like you need more help or guidance, feel free to reach out and I am happy to help in any way that I can. Marlarstarneslcsw.com