I promised in my last post, to talk a bit more about steps to take toward creating peace. One way is to think “Yes/and instead of Either/or.”
I recently posted in response to the Newtown, Connecticut killings that we needed More Aikido and Fewer Guns. Those calling for banning guns chastized me. They were thinking “Either guns or no guns.”
I think Malcolm X would have understood my position. He is one of my heroes mainly because, as the quote demonstrates, he didn’t get locked into Either/or positions. He was a critical thinker, what some call a “Yes/and” thinker.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS THOUGHTS ABOUT EITHER/OR THINKING
Either/or thinking closes off richness by limiting the options to two possibilities. Not useful. I agree with those who think the more views of the territory, the more accurate the map.
Either/or statements make better sound bytes, are easier to frame and put people who define themselves as one or the other at odds. Something the media enjoys doing.
Our either\or views often reflect our earliest beliefs. Children under the age of six form a core set of beliefs about the world. The infant explores what is and is a learning machine. S/he will come at about the age of six or seven to solidify that learning into a more global belief: “What is Ought to Be.” Contradictory ideas get rejected because they threaten.
A child’s “What is” is formed by three things:
- Biology, meaning both genetic predispositions including temperament, and those biological events such as illness, trauma, brain injuries that change a person.
- The voices of authority heeded by the child; the more those surrounding a child teach and preach the same thing, the more powerful the teaching–why fundamental religious groups want to control education and often separate their young from broader societal influences if at various with their doctrines.
- The child’s personal experiences. Something as simple as being the first-born child leads to different beliefs about what is and about right and wrong, particularly as taught by voices of authority.
Believing “What is ought to be” sometimes undergoes revision during adolescence. This is when many become capable of thinking broadly and comparing contradictions among previous beliefs.
Adolescents seeking self-hood often question authority, but not always. Some studies show as many as 70 to 50% of the human race do noy challenge authority or think broadly. Seventy percent of the world are idiots is an adult material Facebook Page using that concept. You might enjoy some of its humor, but you might also find it occasionally offensive.
My point, we are programmed to think either/or, but most of us can learn to think more broadly. The more who do so, the more possible it is to walk paths of peace.
An aside: one of my 2013 goals for my Emotional Fitness blog is to post one exercise each working day. I refuse to become so addicted that I must post every day, so am treating this as a five day a week job. Here is one small step in that direction. Some times the daily post will just ask you to think, or maybe to enjoy a laugh. Here is the first.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS EXERCISE
Become aware of either/or thinking. Then try to think of at least one yes/and position.
An example: The fiscal cliff crisis was often presented as raise taxes or cut spending. Anyone who has read broadly on this issue knows both are needed.
We rely on long-established beliefs to help guide us along life paths. It helps to think the floor or ground beneath our feet is solid. It is not helpful, when we categorize groups of people. “Yes/and” thinking is a better tool when trying to walk the path to peace.
Here is my thank you gift for those joining me for the first time. Click here to be taken to an introduction to the Daily Twelve Emotional Fitness Exercises. Thinking about what matters is one and practicing kindness another.
As always thank you for reading and supporting my efforts.
THE USUAL PROMOTIONAL STUFF
Liking, commenting, sharing are acts of social media kindness and very easy to practice. So be kind to me and all your media friends. I promise you will be repaid.
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DISCLAIMER ONE: EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING IS NOT THERAPY.
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
DISCLAIMER TWO: FORGIVE MY GRAMMATICAL ERRORS
If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later. Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.