Do you see things in black and white?

“Nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so.” ~Shakespeare

Around the globe, many of us are experiencing deep frustration and despair right now. Others are expanding joyfully into new ways of being and seeing.

And most of us are dancing with both.


A long-time client, Julie, is struggling. At the end of 2016, she left a high-paying, high-stress corporate training position. She cashed out her 401K to fund a new business and due to sluggish sales, she is facing a possible home foreclosure.

Despite her struggles, she shared that over the past few months, she’s also never felt more alive, more hopeful about her future and more excited about the possibilities she envisions down the road. Sound crazy?

Julie, along with millions of us, is experiencing what we call polarity. How is it possible to live with these extremes? The concept of living with polarity is not new. From as far back as we can remember, we’ve been fascinated with the balance between light and dark, contraction and expansion and how close tears are to laughter—polarities are everywhere.

In fact, many of my colleagues in the field of leadership believe polarity—creating consciously from wholeness—is the key to unleashing enormous untapped potential.

Author Richard Rohr says, “The dualistic mind (either/or thinking) cannot process things like infinity, mystery, God, grace, suffering, sexuality, death, or love.”

If we are able to hold opposite feelings and experiences: frustrations—that are very real—and our highest aspirations, we open ourselves up to a vast unknown of possibility. To what I call “the great wide open.” (Read my recent blog post Action-Motivation-Action  on what happened when I wrestled with inner polarities.)

I encourage you to pause and be open to the many gifts that can come from this thinking. Pull up two chairs and invite the extremes you’re experiencing to tea! What would they share? As you consider the concept of polarities, you might ask yourself:

  • What are the current polarities in my life/career/relationships?
  • Which end of the spectrum do I tend to gravitate towards (continuously hopeful/optimistic or chronically negative and discouraging)?
  • Am I comfortable holding these extremes in the same space or do I want them at opposite ends of the building?!
  • If I were to describe this dance (of extremes) would it be a Texas two-step, the jitterbug, a waltz or Michael Jackson’s Thriller?
  • What opportunities might come forth from “being” with both extremes (i.e., shifts, new perspectives, ideas, etc.)?

As you compassionately examine areas of your life where polarities exist, consider what brilliant breakthroughs might be awaiting if you’re willing to start pausing, becoming curious, listening more and including “and” as often as you include “or” in your debates.

Want support for embracing polarities in your life?

  • Attend one of my self-renewal retreats and receive high-level support and mentoring for living intentionally. P.S. My Oct. 27-29 Kripalu retreat has just a handful of spots left (lodging is almost sold out).
  • Schedule me to speak to—or organize a retreat for—your organization, company or team on resiliency, stress management and mindfulness. Learn more.
  • Explore the idea of facilitating or joining our Personal Renewal Groups for women (in 10 countries worldwide); becoming a RTA-Certified Facilitator can be a great way to support your own growth, empower women locally and learn the art of self-care. Our online training is $100 off through Sept. 30 and includes private coaching with me!

Join me here in the Berkshire Mountains of Western MA at Kripalu Center for Yoga & Health Oct. 27-29 for New Way of Being: Women’s Self-Renewal Retreat.

Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by mindfulness coach/speaker/author and Career Strategists president, Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about living intentionally, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining Personal Renewal Groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum.  She is the author of The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal and Nurturing the Soul of Your Family: 10 Ways to Reconnect and Find Peace in Everyday Life. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 15 year-old son. More on her background here.