learning to let go of either/or thinking

so there is a shift afoot with regards to either/or and both/and thinking. it’s happening in lots of places and from many different directions, people in my circles are decreasingly interested in either/or thinking. people are leaving behind the idea that choosing between two options is ever a realistic situation.

jessica taubner, a new friend and my evolutionary leadership coaching buddy, has encouraged me (and lots of other people in her life) to completely stop thinking in terms of “but.” whenever there is a “but” in a sentence, she says, try to turn it into an and. it’s not always possible, but it usually is. this is totally in line with the both/and movement.

where is all this coming from? i think it’s stemming from a refusal to believe that the options as we see them are all that there is. it’s a pushback against hierarchy and paternalist ways of being and thinking. it’s a step towards embracing complexity, expansive thinking, and framework of abundance, as opposed to simplistic or scarcity mindsets. it’s a stand in the belief that there are rarely only two options on the table. and, in fact, if someone has framed a choice (or a decision? help cyndi!) as either this or that, it’s likely that they have an ulterior motive that makes both options not ideal. note that sometimes this is happening unbeknownst to the framers.

for example, who gets public support for things like housing and healthcare? right now (and for most of american history), the wealthy have pitted different groups of poor people against each other. if poor people of color are in public housing (which isn’t even the majority of public housing, but let’s go with the dominant narrative), that means that they are takers. they are taking from the system that isn’t also helping poor white folks. but, in actuality, it’s possible for all poor people to get housing support and healthcare. we have just decided that that’s not how we want to operate.

and yet, if you look under the hood, people who get the mortgage income deduction literally have publicly-subsidized housing. but the wealthy would never tell you that or frame it that way. so their motive in framing public support for housing implicitly sets up a “them or you”decision and actually makes our whole country lose.

anyways, that wasn’t a great example, but there are plenty more. the both/and shift is growing and i, for one, am excited about it. it’s making me think more creatively about how to achieve lots at the same time instead of believing that there isn’t enough or very little is possible.

ps - that said, my time is a huge exception to me in this rule. &shrug;

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