Our culture loves to think of the world in absolutes. Right or wrong. Yes or no. Good or bad. Unfortunately that mindset can make life much more difficult. The reality is that much of the world we navigate through consists of shades of grey. There are far fewer absolutes than many of us like to imagine.
Absolutes can make us feel safe. Knowing that something is A or B, Yes or No, On or Off, removes a lot of the need for judgement. It reduces our chances for mistakes. When we acknowledge that there is grey it requires us to make decisions and to take responsibility for our judgments.
Seeing things as black and white has other drawbacks as well. It means that much of life becomes a pass/fail situation. It means we either succeed or fail. It doesn’t leave room for anything in between. It also limits our vision. When we limit our thinking to one option or another, we start closing ourselves off to other options that exist. What we think are options A and B are really A and Z with many more letters in between.
When we accept that the world has shades of grey it opens us up to the fact that there are many possibilities, many options, many paths that we can take. Our choices don’t have to be right or wrong…they can just be different.
And once we allow for difference it opens the door for us to show ourselves compassion. It takes away our need for perfection because when there aren’t absolutes, there isn’t a measure for perfection.
When we set a goal of perfection we are really just guaranteeing our failure. Perfection isn’t attainable. And when we fall short of perfection, too often we feel the need to criticize ourselves for not being good enough. Then, instead of building on our strengths, we just continually reinforce our negative view of ourselves as we fail to be perfect again and again.
Learn to love the grey. It holds amazing beauty and opportunity. It opens the door for creativity. It allows us to find the success in the things we do. Change your thinking. When you look at the gray don’t think, “I don’t know what to do.” Instead, think, “The possibilities are endless.”
A very helpful post. I reminded me how I, as a therapist, can get drawn into judging behaviour as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and how I can become attached to certain outcomes instead of allowing what unfolds to unfold.