Living a life of both/and
Written by: Annalise Wintz
We know that life is not black and white; there is a ton of grey area when it comes to issues, making decisions and even how we feel. So why do we so often fall into this either/or mindset? — This “you’re either with us or against us” concept. Perhaps it’s because many of us are not introduced to the concept of “both/and.” For example, the Covid-19 pandemic has made many individuals feel both isolated andconnected at the same time. On one hand, individuals have become physically distant from one another, but on the other hand, individuals have also stayed in touch through technology and media. Individuals may also feel both fear and hope at the same time with the world turning to some sense of “normalcy” post-pandemic.
This idea can also be applied to the way we feel about ourselves. We can feel both happy and sad. We can work hard and still rest. We can love someone and still set boundaries with them. The real work starts when we recognize the complexities of ourselves.
When we limit ourselves to all or nothing thinking, we limit our possibilities. When we allow ourselves to consider a middle ground, we open up the opportunity for healing and growth. We then allow ourselves to be mindful of our feelings and intricacies. We accept ourselves for who we are – complex humans who do not have to pick just one side, idea or feeling.
Cognitive dissonance is a term to describe the state of discomfort one feels when one holds conflicting values, thoughts, beliefs, feelings or attitudes. Our mind naturally prefers to see things as either/or instead of complex and inconsistent. That being said, considering both/and can take initial effort, but it’s worth it in the long run once you realize things do not have to be one or the other.
You can be a procrastinator and a good student. You can be social and introverted. You can end a relationship with someone you love. You can accept a loss and still be sad. You can be born as one thing and identify as another. You are allowed to be more than one thing. You are allowed to feel and identify as both/and.
Written by: ANNALISE WINTZ
Lead Clinical Case Manager
Bachelor of Arts in Psychology
Registered Substance Abuse Counselor