Up until a recent conversation with a client, I had no idea who Martha Beck was. I’m learning that coaching is kind of like being a musician. We need to get out there and see what other musicians are putting out there, so we can continue to grow rather than hide in a hole and stay the same as we ever were, producing music that everyone used to like. So when I saw an article by one Martha Beck on the table of contents of my O Magazine this weekend, I couldn’t help but grow myself into reading it.
Beck talks about using both-and thinking instead of either-or thinking when it comes to making decisions in sticky situations. Her article was more focused on making decisions about others, but as I read, I fell into an introspective state. Which of course led me into my self and my authenticity. What I want to know is how I can create some Self-Awareness and apply this both-and thinking to my own Authenticity.
Last week I found myself in a drive-thru line at In-N-Out Burger. As I waited in the always-long (and somehow always-fast-moving) line of cars, I noticed the car behind me was filled with what looked to be teenagers or early-twentians. I saw the young driver with her hair pulled loosely and stylishly back, giant sunglasses on, and jaws popping gum all over the place. I saw her passengers in tight low-cut v-neck t-shirts over tank tops. I pictured them in short-shorts and Ugg boots, although I certainly had no line of sight through the outer shell of Lexus Gold-Edition SUV they were in.
I thought to myself, “Ugh, I bet they’re driving mommy/daddy’s car and have no idea what it’s like in the real world…” as my thoughts drifted off to my own early driving years, sitting in an In-N-Out drive thru line on Ventura Blvd in a beaten up blue Honda Civic I had to buy for $1 from my father so I wouldn’t get taxed on it when it was left to me after my mother died. I thought about how different life is now and how far I’ve come from that scared little girl who hadn’t yet figured out how to be herself.
In a matter of about 30 seconds, I had looked in my rear-view mirror and assessed these young women based on their differences from me. I made assumptions about their character based on the size of their sunglasses and clothing they wore.
At the time, I recognized that I had no business judging these young ladies, and silently apologized to them as I paid for my meal and drove home to eat. All the way home, I chastised myself for judging the proverbial books by their cover. I then reread my post on Compassion and began to forgive myself. And a few days later I came across that Martha Beck article.
I recognized that I, as I believe we all do, have a tendency toward the either-or line of thinking. I’m either a thoughtful and non-judgmental person, or I’m a judgmental and assumptive ass. The truth is that I am all of these sometimes, and we are human. The truth is that we’re both, we’re all. And the truth is that we’re practicing and learning and growing, and we can’t expect ourselves to fall into “perfection,” even after 35 years of trying.
As I’m working through this here with all of you, I realize that we’re all creating a set of blue prints for ourselves, and we aren’t all using permanent sharpie markers. We’re using charcoal and pencil and watercolors and oils and pastels and #2 pencils and Bic ballpoints and sometimes even lipstick and eyeliner. The point is, we’re all making this up as we go along, and just because we’ve written something out or planned it out on paper doesn’t mean that when we go to build, we won’t make changes. It’s part of being human.
And as we make things up and make our changes, there’s a growing necessity to remember what we’re learning so we can continue to apply it. We must remember that just because we’ve learned something doesn’t mean that we are now that thing or person we’ve learned. We must remember that we are human and that we are sometimes the thoughtful creature that we have intended ourselves to be. Sometimes we fall back into being judgmental and assumptive. And when we do, it might do us good to remember this both-and line of thinking, rather than getting stuck in the either-or line of fire.
When we’re either-or, it can be difficult to have that compassion for ourselves that is so necessary to forgive ourselves and move forward. But if we come from the point of view of both-and then it’s easier to remember that we’re also the good and decent human beings we’ve intended ourselves to be, even if we falter every now and then.
For me, the only way to do that is to create Awareness around my Self. To keep a vigilant, loving eye on me and let others live as they will. My job is to lead my own life, and not anyone else’s.
How do you engage in either-or and both-and thinking? And how do you move forward?
June is Self-Evidence + Authenticity month here at Authentic Realities. This post is a part of my June blog challenge, which I invite you stick around for, read a bit, and even get yourself in the mix if it suits your fancy. It’s also a part of Bindu Wiles’ 21.5.800 challenge, which you can also join in on if your fancy should so be inclined.