Finding Balance in Our Thoughts

The world is not really full of extremes, such as “good people” and “bad people.” Yet somehow people tend to think of things in a very polarized manner. In fact, in almost all instances people tend to have both good and bad qualities. Reading the news on some days, I can’t help but think that the world can be such a negative place, yet just a month ago I couldn’t help but realize the extraordinary compassion the city of Houston showed during Hurricane Harvey. Wait, if the world is so negative then how could the city of Houston pull through in such a spectacular fashion? The reason is because there really is some bad in this world, and there really is some great in this world. Both are equally true at times.

If the world really isn’t black and white, then why do people quickly make judgments? According to cognitive psychology, cognitive dissonance tends to occur when we are presented with two opposite truths. Cognitive dissonance is the experience when someone simultaneously holds contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. In fact, cognitive dissonance can actually cause a person mental discomfort. Because of that mental discomfort, we tend to jump to one extreme and ignore the evidence of the contrary. This is why I love the counseling theory of DBT.

The ‘D’ in DBT comes from the word dialectic. This means that two opposite truths can be equally true. People have to accept themselves as they are; and simultaneously they have to change. The world can be a very dark place. The world can also be an incredible place full of compassion and love. Our confirmation bias- tendency to only view things that confirm our belief, helps us keep our one extreme view. As a counselor, I actually watch people begin to accept their situation when they accept that two opposite truths can be equally true. For instance, working mothers will say “quality time with my children is a positive.” They will later say that “being a working mother provides for my family, as well as sets an incredible example for them.” Once a client makes peace with each of their truths they can start to feel the tension release. What can you make peace with this week?

Written by Amy Rollo, M.A., LSSP, LPC-S

Amy Rollo is a Licensed Professional Counselor Supervisor and owner of Heights Family Counseling. Amy has been practicing for fifteen years. She has doctoral level training in the areas of child and adolescent counseling, marriage and family therapy, and adult counseling. Amy Rollo provides counseling and evaluation services in the Houston Heights and surrounding areas. Amy’s goal in counseling is to journey with her clients in order to foster positive changes and growth in their lives. Read more about Amy's counseling style by visiting www.heightsfamilycounseling.com