“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.
I ran into a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time at the grocery store yesterday. She asked how I was doing. I paused (I’m a get real gal; I tell you how I’m really doing) and recalled a recent painful parenting encounter and my unbridled excitement about the new website we’re working on. I smiled, remembering these recent highs and lows, and said, “You know, many things are true at once.”
Despite coming off one of the hardest years I’ve ever had relationship-wise, I’ve never felt more alive, hopeful about the future and excited about the new opportunities I’ll be diving into this year.
The concept of living with extreme opposite feelings 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 mindfulness and 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 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. Many things are true at once.I’D LOVE TO SUPPORT YOU–THREE UPCOMING OPPORTUNITIES:
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Subscribe here to Live Inside Out, a weekly blog written by life balance teacher/speaker/author and self-care evangelist Renée Peterson Trudeau. Passionate about helping men and women experience balance through the art and science of self-renewal, her work has appeared in The New York Times, Good Housekeeping, US News & World Report, AARP, Spirituality & Health and more. Thousands of women in ten countries are becoming RTA-Certified Facilitators and leading/joining self-renewal groups based on her award-winning self-care curriculum. She is the author of three books on life balance and mindfulness including the award-winning The Mother’s Guide to Self-Renewal. She lives in Austin, Texas, with her husband and 16-year-old son. More on her background here.
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