Where has the time gone? The end of 2014 is rapidly approaching, likely in part due to the increased activity that occurs during the month of December for those celebrating Christmas and other holiday traditions. I enjoyed reading Brene Brown’s recent post dated December 3, 2014 “The show must go on. But at what cost?” She is referencing the chaos that occurs at Christmas and sometimes we are the ringmasters of the Circus that ensues this time of year.
One of the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) concepts that can be useful to manage the “circus” is “Balancing Wants and Shoulds”. Dialectic essentially means the art of investigating seemingly opposites to achieve the best outcome. “Wants and Shoulds” at times appear to be at opposite ends of the spectrum. I want to stay home and rest, but I should go to the Christmas party. I want to buy people I love gifts, but I should be paying down my debts. I want to eat all the delicious food, but I should be sticking to healthy eating. I want to go out and visit friends, but I should get housework completed.
If we are only following through with our “wants” there are several consequences that may happen using the above examples. We may miss a great event if we stay home, we may cause ourselves financial strain, we may gain weight, and our chores get neglected. Alternatively, if we just focus on “shoulds” we may miss out on some much needed rest, we may feel bad we didn’t buy our loved one a gift, we may miss the pleasure of a food we enjoy, and we may miss the opportunity to connect with friends.
As you can see some consequences are seemingly good and some bad. There is no right or wrong. Every individual has different needs, so the consequences will alternate depending on the person. Each of these scenarios represents a dialectical dilemma. Take the opportunity to practice dialectics to contemplate situations that arise for you to find your inner truth; the right balance of wants and should for you.
The results for some will be a clear decision that falls one way or another. You will either go to the party or you will stay home. For others, you will make an appearance at the party and then go home early. Some will strictly keep to their budget or diet, and others will spend or eat in varying degrees of moderation.
Remember there is no right or wrong. The key is to explore what the right balance is for you. Pause to seek your inner truth, contemplating both “wants” and “shoulds”.