Updated: Apr 1, 2021
“Whatever is possible is by definition also natural. A truly unnatural behavior, one that goes against the laws of nature, simply cannot exist, so it would need no prohibition.”
We’re constantly trying to categorize ourselves into one of two categories. Male or Female, gay or straight, wrong or right, successful or a failure, good or bad. Known as “splitting”, “all or nothing thinking” or “black and white thinking” this type of thinking leads us to extremes. When we fall victim to black and white thinking, we are unable to see the world as complex and nuanced, instead sorting life into right or wrong and good or bad. It’s the type of thinking that closes us off from hearing the whole story, seeing the whole picture and ultimately giving ourselves and others the space, safety and grace to be human.
I’ve struggled a lot with all or nothing thinking, and It took me a long time to allow myself to embrace a more malleable idea of identity. I wanted to be something. A runner, a hiker, a good friend, creative, successful in my career. When I was little, my best friend was often referred to as a “tom-boy”. She liked to catch bugs and get dirty playing outside and hated wearing dresses. I took that to mean since I was not a tom-boy, I must be her opposite: a girly-girl, which got confusing when it turned out that even though I liked putting on makeup, wearing dresses and playing with hair, I also loved playing outside, and getting dirty. As it turns out, she’s not a tom-boy and I’m not a girly-girl. We are both women who like some things and don’t like other things.
As I move into my future as it becomes my present, I am challenging myself to practice mental flexibility. Where my brain reaches for “either/or”, I look for “and”. When I think about leaving in July to hike the Colorado Trail, my brain offers me the thought “Leaving while you’re trying to start a new business is a terrible idea and will only set you back.” I re-frame by asking “How is it possible that hiking the CT contributes to - rather than limits - my success?”
I can empower women by showing them they can be humans who like some things and don't like other things. They can do some things, sometimes and sometimes not.
I can be an example of what is possible.