Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Life in a ‘both/and’ world

I have a confession to make—I am a recovering either/or thinker! I don’t know how or why it happened but I’ve spent a lot of my life in all-or-nothing thinking. I first became aware of this many years ago when I joined Weight Watchers to lose some extra weight.

I noticed that if I went off my plan for a meal, I got discouraged and thought, “Well, I’ve ruined today. So I might as well just eat whatever I want. I’ve screwed it up anyway.” Oh, yeah, that was really helpful! Not so much ….

The more I became aware of how my either/or, all-or-nothing thinking hindered my weight-loss efforts, the better a change to both/and thinking looked to me! Sometimes I still struggle with either/or thinking. But more often than not, I’ll be invited back into the expansiveness and joy of life in a both/and world when it happens.

Possibilities open up
When you are stuck in either/or thinking, things are either one way or the other. There is no room for ambiguity or for the gray areas of life. Either you are strong or you are weak. Either you are on a healthy eating plan or you’re totally off your plan. Either you are perfect or you are a failure.

However, when you switch to both/and thinking, you can see many sides to an issue. Many possibilities open up. Solutions you didn’t see before appear. You can acknowledge all the facets of your personality. Several realities can coexist.

You can be a strong woman—and you can have a scared little girl inside. You can eat that forbidden snack—and you can acknowledge that you ate something not on your plan while still deciding to get right back on the plan with your next meal. You can love your husband—and still want a weekend away from him and spent in the company of your female friends.

Where do you spend most of your days—in either/or land or a both/and world? What helps you sustain both/and thinking?

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