The Power of “AND”

What I want to introduce you to today is the Power of “AND” (yes, Eckhart Tolle tribute intended).  While a simple concept, “AND,” it can be extremely powerful when applied to your daily life. In my experience, most powerful interventions often are just that, simple. I liken it to food. Consider some of the best meals you’ve ever had. Now think about the ingredients. What made these meals so delicious? I would bet that some version of simple fresh ingredients is almost everyone’s answer. Well, bringing “AND” into your life can be like adding that simple fresh ingredient that ends up creating your best dish yet, and that dish, of course, is your life.

So what is it? What am I talking about when I say “AND?”

“AND” is the act of taking ourselves out of our EITHER/OR (aka BLACK and WHITE) thinking. That EITHER/OR thinking that encompasses all of the unspoken rules that we live with every day in order to judge ourselves and our experiences.  You know what I’m talking about. We all have them: “Either I’m a great mom OR I yell at my kids, I couldn’t possibly be both; Either, I love my husband OR I get angry at him when he leaves dirty socks on the floor; Either I have meaning and purpose in my life OR I feel sad.” EITHER/OR thinking just flat out denies parts of our experience and additionally, puts a negative spin on them.

When we bring “AND” into our life, we get to have it all: the good, the bad, the ugly. Now, that might not sound so great, but true living is about experiencing all life has to offer, not just the negative and not just the positive.

“I AM a great mom AND sometimes I yell at my kids. I love my husband AND I get angry at him when he leaves his dirty socks on the floor. I have meaning and purpose in my life AND I feel sad.”

Notice how different that feels than the previous EITHER/OR statements.  Notice that by embracing the “AND” we get to have our good parts back too.

“AND” is a simple, easy, powerful, intervention that takes the sting out of our cognitive distortions and helps to reshape them. It allows us to accept all parts of ourselves and to realize that these parts coexist. When we use EITHER/OR thinking we negate the good parts of our lives with blanket negative statements. These negative statements have a powerful effect on us.  According to psychologist Marcial Losada, it takes about three positive comments to override one negative comment. “AND” helps us move towards restoring the balance. It gives us permission to be human: that is, permission to be imperfect and to have all of our experiences recognized. It also gives us permission to recognize all of our parts; thus allowing us to see the big picture and the reality of our life.

I invite you today to add this simple fresh ingredient into your dish of life. Next time you catch yourself having an EITHER/OR thought follow it up with “AND…..(I’m okay, I am loved, I am a good mother/father/person, I love my…).

OH, and here’s a little secret for you, it works just as well anytime you have any negative, criticizing thought, not just the EITHER/OR ones. So, next time you think, “I’m (fat, ugly, stupid, worthless, lost, no one, etc…) follow it up with AND I’m (smart, talented, honest, kind, loving, creative, generous, etc…). Try it out and let me know how it works.

Be Well AND Keep Growing,

Donna

Image by pixaby