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Both/And Thinking

If we can move from “either/or” thinking to “both/and” thinking, we might find ourselves becoming more flexible, understanding others’ points of view, blaming others less, and having fewer interpersonal conflicts. Two things that seem like opposites can both be true. Here are some examples: Either/Or: I’m totally right about this. You’re wrong. Both/And: I see it this way, and you see it that way. Either/Or: I should be able to take care of myself without asking others for help. Both/And: I can take care of myself, and sometimes I need to ask others for help and support. Either/Or: I can’t trust people because I might get hurt. Both/And: I can trust some people and I find it difficult to trust others. This concept is present in Buddhist philosophy, as well as in existential and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) therapy models. Where can you shift your thinking to embrace both sides?


Vicky Brandt is the owner of Looking Glass Counseling. She has over 14 years of experience working as a psychotherapist, both in private practice and community mental health settings. She has taught as adjunct faculty in the master's programs at Boston College and Lesley University.

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