When I realized that my brain’s default was two-column, either-or thinking, I began to get a glimpse of how I was limiting my life. If I assumed that there were two options in any situation, then my choice would be either the right one or the wrong one. Two-column thinking encouraged me to think in extremes and opposites. Believing I must choose either this or that cut me off from exploring the range of possibilities available to me.
If I become fearful, anxious, or uncomfortable, grabbing a label such as good or bad simplifies the answer. It offers me immediate certainty and helps me avoid confusion and ambiguity. At the same time, it limits my life. While it may temporarily make me feel less anxious or give me a sense of security, it blinds me to the range of choices that are present before me.
When my mother and father both were terminally diagnosed within four days, it took me a couple of weeks to see that, although I was experiencing loss and grief, I was also being presented with an opportunity to celebrate and love my parents. As a result, I know that if am poised for possibilities, I can be the creative individual I was born to be. Now I look for patterns and connections and allow myself to recognize the potential in situations.
As a dear friend of mine so wisely stated, “I am the only thing standing between the rut I’ve been living in and the possibilities of my future.” Even when life presents me with limitations, loss, or challenges, I can see that, within those constraints, possibilities abound. But it is always my choice to decide what to focus on.
This post is the first in a new series, 21 Ways to Live in Discovery.