I’ve been thinking a lot about dialectical thinking, which is the ability to acknowledge and tolerate that conflicting truths often co-exist. For example, I am profoundly lucky to have a job that can be done from home, and, I am finding myself struggling emotionally at times. I am so glad that people are turning to me for help and guidance, and, I feel emotionally drained. I share this not to complain, but to emphasize the importance of allowing yourself to acknowledge, validate, and legitimize the full spectrum of your emotional experience right now. Remember not to let the things you are grateful for invalidate the challenges and struggles of your life.
When we experience uncomfortable emotions, we often react by building up a wall to keep that feeling out. Unfortunately, this “wall” usually has the opposite effect — it holds our emotions in and we get stuck with them. To get unstuck from an emotion, let yourself just sit with it and experience it without doing anything to change the emotion – simply be present to your experience. You’ll notice that the intensity of the emotion might rise and fall like waves. When you sit with the emotion, allowing yourself to experience it fully, you’ll find that the emotion will recede, just like waves in the ocean. We cannot stop our emotions from coming, but we can learn to ride the waves.
Who is Dr. Carla? Carla D. Chugani, PhD, LPC is an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She is an expert in collegiate mental health and is passionate about supporting the emotional wellness of college students through evidence-based programs and services.