So tell me where shall I go..
To the left, where nothing is right?
Or to the right where nothing is left?!
I don’t know who said it and why he/she said it?!
I mean what happened to the good old middle ground? There is something called in between, ever heard of moderate? How about staying neutral for a while..?
You know when I read it first up, I didn’t like the vibe it gave me. But there are exceptions to every rule, so let this be it.
Okay listen to the sound of this;
A: How are you today?
Hang on…are you REALLY feeling Awful?
See the thing is that more than most of the times, what we are actually feeling is a little boredem, out of sync, lagging behind, lethargic, a tad bit disoriented, unwell and —– you can fill in the blank space with a feeling of your choice. It has become more of a habit to resort to polar opposites when a middle ground suggestion could’ve fit the bill. We come across so many black n’ white statements that it has slowly desensitised us towards their meaning.
Here’s my personal favourite.
Child: listen to mee..
You: yes honey…?
Child: listen to meeeeee
You: hmm? (Responded without looking@the child coz maybe you were multitasking etc..)
Child: you NEVER listen to me!
You: 🤔 All or nothing! Here we come..!
P.s. sometimes a child, as little as 6 yo, can be an expert at disqualifying your credentials as a parent.
Ok back to where we’d started, you see how one simple word can entirely change, twist or even reverse the truth of a situation? It is commonplace for us to delve into black and white/extreme thinking and underestimate the power of words.
Like It’s either love or hate, this or that, fight or flight, good or bad. I mean if it’s not “perfect” then it must be “horrible”. If it’s not “beautiful”, it must be ugly. If it’s not amazing.. fantastic ..superb ..brilliant then it must be boring..bogus..absurd ..stupid..
Doesn’t it seem like that our brain is a compartmentalised space thinking in terms of absolutes? A space inhabitating over simplified opinions and feelings but breeding massive emotional swings. This categorical simplicity of thinking in black and white shuts the window to the spectrum of ‘greys’. Possibilities that exist beyond these coherent units are numerous but are easily and automatically overlooked in favour of BnW. And that’s where satan jumps in, exploiting our weaknesses through polar extremes. Like If I’m inherently sensitive, he will make me look at the dark morbid side of life making me feel even more miserable.
Recalling a very old account of my childhood, I remember I used to struggle with mathematics and every time someone asked me how the exam went? I would say: “I know I’m going to fail.” But did I actually believe I would fail? No.
The point is that I could’ve had said, “Oh i didn’t do “that well” this time..or something like, “not too excited about my attempt etc etc “.. but I guess normalcy in language isn’t cool! We like to pack our words with a verbal punch by adding unnecessary degrees and flavours of extremes.
BnW thinking is restrictive. It withholds you from imagining and appreciating a wide array of possibilities and dimensions. Like if a student is made to believe that getting anything less than an A+ is a sign that he’s not smart enough ..& let’s suppose he ends up getting a B+, It’s highly likely that this outcome is going to fill him with despair and a lack of faith in his ability. But what if the child managed to secure an A+?? Sounds promising but did you not reaffirm (oh I’m sorry) did you not DISTORT his perception of success? It is rightly said in a situation like this that “nothing fails like success!”
This one stings..
Child: mom I came second place .. i am so happy!!
mom: why second?! what went WRONG?!
By the same token, when we become too tough in relationships, we are falling prey to the same All or Nothing mentality. You know the famous my way-or-the-highway attitude! 🤷♀️
Here’s some good news: BnW thinking does have benefits like when in practical life there’s a deadline or something. You’ve gotta do it – so you’ve gotta do it! There’s no grey matter. 12pm-is-12pm sharp!! And likewise certain ideologies (religious and otherwise) and personal convictions do not have any room for what we call ‘grey matter’. There are parenting practices, principles and goals you would never compromise on. Those are justifiable absolutes. Any chance of ambiguity? Not a chance.
Answer this for me and for yourself please… Thankyou.
If I’m not all success, does this make me a total failure?
If I’m not drop dead gorgeous does this imply I am ugly?
My friends are few in number, does this make me a loner or an out-and-out introvert?
If i am not the smartest in a specific field, does it mean I am absolutely dumb in that area?
Life is complex enough to be lived in total black and white while being oblivious to the many shades of grey in between the stark blackness ‘n whites.
There is always some calm in the chaos and some method in madness. What’s needed is an eye that looks deeply and a heart that feels profoundly. 💕