The opening scene in Love Actually poetically describes the hellos and goodbyes, the reuniting “welcomes” and the separating “see you laters” that occur in airports. It goes on to portray the excitement of new adventures, the joy of return to awaiting loved ones and the sadness of leaving behind pieces of our hearts as we board our planes. It truly is one of my favorite movie scenes for the simple yet complex truth to which it bears witness.
This one location holds so many seemingly opposite emotions and thoughts. Joy and sadness. Expectation and anxiety. Even the traveler may be experiencing an array of thoughts and emotions such as readiness to return home while perhaps longing to stay with loved ones. And airports aren’t unique in this. Many places, our homes and workplaces, sororities, and dugouts, all bear the burden of complexity.
Such is life.
For many of us, the tension that differing thoughts and emotions present turns into an internal tug-of-war. We disregard the pain of leaving the familiar to convince ourselves the adventure will be better. We push aside the joy of returning home to agree with the masses that vacationing is the best thing available to us.
What if it didn’t have to be this way?
As individuals with rich and full experiences, we can learn to hold the tension. We can learn to validate our entire experiences. And we can learn to grab hold of a life that reflects our true and complete self.
This is part of the essence of Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Dialects are two opposing platforms, such as black and white or change and acceptance. These typically force us into decisions where one is viewed as “the right way” and the other “the wrong way.” However, upon closer inspection, and the reality of our personal experiences, the world is much more gray and requires our acknowledgment of both to create the wisdom for an effective response.
As we learn to navigate these dialectical parts of our world, we gain freedom. By giving attention to our entire experience, we move towards awareness of the best plan of action and gain the ability to do so.
Written by Lindsay Williams, MA, LPC
I invite you to learn more about DBT. While it is not the only therapeutic framework I use, because of its practicality, I often incorporate it into many of my sessions. Let’s talk today to see how it might benefit you.