We’ve already learned about the three minds: The Thinking Mind, the Feeling Mind, and the Balanced Mind. Do you remember how both our thoughts and our feelings can get off balance when we are not using our Balanced Mind? Do you also remember that the purpose of the Balanced Mind is to notice, evaluate, regulate, and ultimately balance what we are thinking and feeling?
The entire point of this chapter is to use the Balanced Mind to restore balance to the Thinking Mind. (In the next chapter, we will use the Balanced Mind to restore balance to the Feeling Mind). There is one key concept you will learn in this chapter that will help your Balanced Mind restore balance to the Thinking Mind: Dialectical Thinking.
Some people are just more rigid or “black and white” in how they think. People who have been traumatized are especially prone to thinking in extremes. Why is that? Because trauma survivors really have been in extreme situations. For example, when you are in a life or death situation, there really aren’t too many shades of gray worth contemplating! Unfortunately, sometimes those extreme ways of thinking crystallize into how we see everything else in life—even situations that are not traumatic.
Based on our previous life experiences, we learn to see things in a certain way, and only that way. Even if we learn that what we feel is sometimes misleading, we often still assume that what we think must be gospel truth. However, the reality is that not everything we think is necessarily completely true, accurate, logical, rational, or healthy. Once again, this can especially be true if we have been traumatized in any way. For example, trauma survivors may inappropriately blame themselves for their own abuse. Or they may become overly negative in how they view themselves, other people who are not abusive, or even all of life.
You might remember from the first chapter that “dialectics” is all about finding balance by bringing together opposites. Dialectical or balanced thinking simply means that we learn to bring our extreme thoughts and beliefs more to the middle. Balanced thinking means we learn to think about things from new and different perspectives—instead of thinking about things in only one way. Balanced thinking also means that we are flexible in how we think, that we can change our thinking if we learn new evidence, and that we can see things from someone else’s perspective. People who learn to develop balanced thought patterns are better problem-solvers, better at getting along with other people, and better at dealing with life in general.
In this chapter, you will learn a variety of concepts related to balanced thinking. First, you will learn the relationship between thoughts, feelings, and behaviors. Then you will learn a variety of ways in which our thinking can sometimes become distorted, or misguided. Next you will learn three simple questions to help stomp out your automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s). Finally, you will learn two very simple methods for changing your most deeply entrenched thought patterns.
Here is a brief preview of what you will learn next:
- Learn the relationship between your thoughts, emotions, and actions (TEA).
- Learn a variety of automatic negative thoughts (ANT’s).
- Learn to challenge your ANT’s with three simple stomps.
- Learn to change your thinking by working the TOM.
- Learn to change your interpretations by playing your DS (Dialectical Synonyms).