The image above comes from an art journal I kept a few years ago. During that season a lot was shifting in my life and everything felt uncertain. It was then I began the work of learning to live in the ‘AND’.
I am a person who is wired for extremes – right or wrong, good or bad, strong or weak. This black or white way of viewing the world offered me a sense of security and a measure of control. This sense of control turned out to be an illusion. Trying to play it safe, I ultimately shrunk back from living life fully.
Shades of Gray
I have learned that life is best lived in the murky middle of the shades of gray (and not the Christian Grey kind of shades either 😂) These shades of gray are about learning how to let go of an either/or way of thinking and replacing it with a both/and way of approaching life.
Living in the ‘and’ is a way of accepting what is while staying open to the possibilities of what might be. It’s learning to hold two things that feel like opposites alongside each other without judgment.
You can be a good mom AND still yet at your kids from time to time.
You can love your family AND need a break from them.
You can be grateful for all you have AND want things to be different.
You can love someone deeply AND they not be the right person for you.
You can be firm in your convictions AND befriend and love those who don’t share your opinions.
You can be a good person AND still occasionally make choices that are not in your best interest.
You can be a masterpiece AND a work in progress.
Living In The AND
Here are three (3) ways you can learn to live in the ‘AND’:
Start with YES
I’m not advocating that you should say yes to everything. Instead, I am inviting you to consider the options in front of you with an expansive yes to the possibilities. ‘No’ constricts, it tightens you and encourages you to look for why something isn’t possible. ‘Yes’ invites you into a journey of exploration where new opportunities often show up. Starting with yes also encourages acceptance and from there anything is possible.
Living in the ‘and’ means staying open to a different perspective. Seeing something from a different point of view helps you recognize that sometimes it’s not as clear as one is right and the other wrong. Sometimes, it’s a matter of how you are looking at something or the lens through which you are viewing it. In the process of staying open and curious, you may learn something new about yourself or the situation.
Replace ‘but’ with ‘and’
If you do nothing else, I encourage you to begin this practice. I have been doing it for the last several years and it is a game changer. I have discovered more times than not ‘and’ easily replaces ‘but’. The word ‘but’ shuts you down. It negates everything that came before it and makes everything that comes after it more important. ‘And’ is expansive and opens you up. It invites in grace and kindness instead of judgment. When judgment isn’t present, truth can reveal itself more easily.
Honoring Your Complex Imperfections
You are a multidimensional, complex being who deserves to be celebrated in all of your imperfections. Living in the ‘and’ helps you both see AND accept this truth about you. This is perhaps one of the best gifts you can give yourself.
My hope is you will choose to embrace living in the ‘and’. There is peace, joy, and maybe even a little bit of magic waiting for you there.
From my heart to yours,
P.S: If you’d like to explore what living in the ‘and’ could look like for you, let’s talk. Click here to schedule a complimentary call with me. There is no obligation.