It's Both. All at the Same Time.


I talk a lot about coexisting truths and I want to emphasize the healing power in this approach to life.

How would you describe your job? How was your day today? How was that meeting?

We tend to use one-word answers to these questions, yet life is rarely black or white. It's usually pretty darn checkerboard. Maybe even a grey mush from time to time.

When we use one-word answers such as "fine" or "exhausting," we limit our actual experience to that one word. We actually change what we experienced into a memory defined by that narrow word or phrase. But if we try to thoughtfully state what the, say, meeting really was like, we will likely have a different feeling about the participants, the discussion, and the outcome of the meeting.

I'm not suggesting that this approach makes everything feel rosy. What it does is state the whole. The good, bad, ugly, delicious, awful truth. There is nothing more freeing than living your truth day to day. It allows you to know yourself, your limits, and your desires.

Here's how it works. Try to describe your job using supposedly contrary, yet amazingly accurate, descriptors: It's both fun and tiring. It's both frustrating and exciting. It's both fulfilling and draining.

Think about the meeting you just left. Was it awful or was it both well-intentioned and unsuccessfully run? I'd rather go the latter meeting, how about you?

And your job. Is it really horrible or is it both some nice people and no room to grow?

How was that date last night? Was it a disaster or was it yummy food and boring company? Frankly, disaster sounds funny but it'll leave you feeling hopeless rather than hopeful. Words can do that. Choose carefully.

When we use the word "both," it forces us to think through the whole of the experience. You may end up dropping the "both" the way you drop the silent "you," as it becomes second nature. When I teach this in person, I cup both hands facing up, as if cradling water, to hold each of my coexisting truths. It helps to visualize and define the multitude of emotions we experience and cull it down into the essence.

Imagine the clarity you'll experience when you use carefully chosen words to describe your life. It opens up lines of communication, it reduces confusion, and it creates a safe space for others to be as honest - with themselves and with you.