Sample lessons:

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Dialectical Thinking


“Dialectical” Open-mind thinking.


Dialectical means that 2 ideas can both be true at the same time.

  • There is always more than one TRUE way to see a situation and more than one TRUE opinion, idea, thought, or dream.

  • Two things that seem like (or are) opposites can both be true.

  • All people have something unique, different, and worthy to teach us.

  • A life worth living has both comfortable and uncomfortable aspects

      (happiness AND sadness; anger AND peace; hope AND discouragement; fear AND ease; etc).

  • All points of view have both TRUE and FALSE within them.




You are right AND the other person is right.


You are doing the best that you can AND you need to try harder, do better, and be more motivated to change.


You can take care of yourself AND you need help and support from others.


Being dialectical means:

  • Letting go of self-righteous indignation.

  • Letting go of “black and white”, “all or nothing” ways of seeing a situation.

  • Looking for what is “left out” of your understanding of a situation.

  • Finding a way to validate the other person’s point of view.

  • Expanding your way of seeing things.

  • Getting “unstuck” from standoffs and conflicts.

  • Being more flexible and approachable.

  • Avoiding assumptions and blaming. 


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Couple Skills


Couple Skills - Shoulds

Shoulds grow out of your sense of the correct and proper way to act.


Entitlement fallacy:

Assumption is because you want something very much, you ought to have it. Entitlement confuses desire with obligation. It implies that when you want something a lot the other person loses his right to say no. Your partner no longer has freedom to choose: his limits and needs are less important than yours. “I want this a lot, and you’re bad if you don’t give it to me."


Fallacy of fairness:

Expectation that relationships are governed by laws and principles found in court. Some standard determines what's correct. The fallacy is built on an imaginary fulcrum where tasks and obligations and rewards of a relationship are balanced. Unfortunately, between partners the concept of fairness is completely arbitrary. Each partner’s balancing fulcrum is tilted at a different angle. Since there is no judge and jury to decide, partners define fairness to fit their needs and expectations of the other person. The partner who appeals to fairness will always define it to serve the needs of the moment.


Fallacy of change:

Assumption that when your partner does wrong, he can be punished and/or coerced into being different and if you apply enough pressure that you can mold your partner into a better person. While an angry insistence on change may feel righteous, the result is often disappointing. People change only when they are capable of change and reinforced to change. Bludgeoning your partner with anger is more likely to result in alienation.


Counteract the Shoulds - The principle of self responsibility:


You are responsible for your own pain, and you are the one who must change your coping strategies to better suit your needs.


If something feels very wrong to you, if you are struggling with a situation that feels unpleasant, or painful, you and not your partner has the responsibility to change it.


You are the expert on your own needs

Your partner is the expert on his own needs


People’s needs invariable conflict.

How satisfied you feel depends on the effectiveness of YOUR strategies (the amount of support, appreciation, and help you are getting now is all you can get given the current strategies you are using).


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