Things had always been pretty black and white for me. You either do or you don’t. It either is or it isn’t. It’s yes or no. Hot or cold. Right or wrong.
I was forever throwing the proverbial “baby out with the bath water”, because I thought “well if it is not entirely one way then not even a part of it can be true.” The whole — a sum of its parts.
I am not exactly sure where my dualistic mindset came from, although I have a suspicion that the introduction of religion at a young age had something to do with it. It was good or evil, right or wrong, heaven or hell, and really nothing in between.
Regardless of where the black and white idea came from, life was pretty limiting when I lived from this dualistic mindset. I was perpetually only seeing two options and completely missing out on countless other options before me —the wonderful world of grey!
The in-between black and white spaces. The shaded grey areas — where two seemingly opposing things, beliefs, mindsets, feelings, options, etc. can exist (gasp!) at the same time!
At first, just like every other area of growth in my life, this new idea was met with quite a bit of resistance. Good ol’ resistance — a spotlight for areas that need a closer look, and likely a change. I pushed back at the idea, because in order for the world I understood at that time to work, the truths I believed had to be true, and absolute. It seemed impossible at first, to wrap my mind around the idea that the truths I believed may not actually be my truth — they may contain some truth or be part of a bigger truth that I had yet to understand. Even more difficult to comprehend was the idea that my truth and someone else’s truth, though different, can both simultaneously be true.
But why did I want to hold on to the black and white mentality when there is so much freedom provided in the grey? The black and white provides two choices. You can make the grey, messy, muddled choices into any combination you want — a smorgasbord to choose from. You can hold, simultaneously, two opposing feelings, two opposing thoughts or beliefs. You can vary back and forth or hang out somewhere in the unknown in between. Because the truth, for me, is that there are multiple truths for multiple people, and each truth — even if seemingly the same on the outside — is experienced differently by each individual.
So now, when confronted with a choice — whether large or small — I seek out the possibility of the grey space and I play with it. Is there a way I can rearrange my thinking to see a third option? Maybe an option that includes part of both choices? When I have a feeling about something, what is the other perspective I am missing? Can I explore the seemingly conflicting feelings I may also have? Is it O.K. for me to feel both at the same time? I ask the questions: “What if?” “Why not?” “Could this also be true for me?” And when I meet some resistance to the idea I know I’m on to something good!
Author: Rebecca deVries is a registered nurse and student at the Naturopathic Institute. She currently interns at Continuum Healing.
Photo source: creative commons