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Moving From Either/Or to Both/And

January 24, 2012

I was festering over a work situation which I instinctively had interpreted as a zero sum game. By that I mean, there were two players and only two potential outcomes: a winner and a loser.

This win-lose attitude was naturally accompanied by a generous barrage of negative thoughts, driven by a desperate need for survival and self-preservation. I had to grab my piece of the pie, because, as everyone knows, there is only so much to go around.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is how life is played out in the hyper-competitive workspace. Whether its building market share, or seeking approval from a boss, or deciding how to spend the afternoon, we tend to see things in terms of limited choices and mutually exclusive options.

This two-dimensional thinking bleeds over into our personal lives, as well, and even into our politics and theology. We like to organize everything into nice, neat categories: democrats or republicans; tree-hugger or capitalist; jock or nerd; predestination or free will.

Scientists tell us that putting things into hard categories makes life easier, because it gives us a frame of reference for interpreting the world. It’s like telling ourselves the same old stories until it’s all we see. But I wonder if all this dichotomous thinking is also a sign of immaturity, or stagnation, or spiritual laziness.

Maybe the hard-wired thinking is not so much to blame as is our culturally entrenched Western thought, with its linear thinking and process orientation and sharp corners and lines around everything. We are all educated from early childhood to be analysts.

Has everything I have ever been taught snoookered me into an either/or view on life, when there was an opportunity for both/and?

To continue reading the rest of this post, click here to join me over at The High Calling.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. January 24, 2012 7:17 am

    Before I go over and finish reading this, I have to say…your work is always great to read, but the word ‘festering’ has a whole new meaning for my zombie tweets and a poem LOL

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