Are You Limiting Yourself with An Either/Or Mindset?

train tracks - either or mindset (2)

“There has got to be another way.”

I’ve pondered this thought many times in my life from simple things like:

How do I get to the airport in rush hour in the shortest amount of time?

To the most complex like:

How I can live my most happy life because what I’ve been doing isn’t working.

As I’ve done my own internal work and asked myself this question in many situations I noticed something that was common to my thinking: I had an either/or mindset.

Either it had to be one way or the other. Black or white. Either this or that.

I wasn’t leaving any space for ‘AND’ which offers many more possibilities.

Either/or puts limits on you and has a doom & gloom feeling to it. It can also imply that there is a sense of sacrifice or suffering with your options. For example:

Either I stay in this soul-sucking job and be comfortable or leave and face uncertainty.

Either I fit in and people will like me or I stand out and some people won’t like me.

Either I stay in this relationship and am unhappy or I leave and am lonely.

But sacrifice and suffering do not have to be the case. Often the scarier option, ie leaving the job, standing out, or ending a relationship, tend to have a negative spin to them because they involve RISK.

The risk doesn’t necessarily go away with a different thought but if you can get yourself to a better feeling thought you are more likely to take action.

Remember, these are just thoughts and you can change them by choice.

One way I like to do this is by trying on ‘AND’ for size. It helps the mind expand to many other possible thoughts like:

I can leave my soul-sucking job and be comfortable in my decision as I find something better.

I can stand out and be myself and allow others to be themselves – whether they like me or not.

I can leave this relationship and feel sad for a while but not hopeless.

Whether you can believe this new statement or not, it at least shows that there are more choices available to you. And to me, seeing more possibilities feels so much better.

Is there a way you’ve been limiting yourself with an either/or mindset?

Look at a thought you have around something that makes you say “There has got to be another way.”

Then see if you can ‘open it up’ a bit more with an AND statement. How does that new statement feel? (It may feel scary but just because it feels scary doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s just a new way of looking at something. Scary can be a good barometer for stepping out of your comfort zone and trying something new.)

These new AND statements can be big shifts in thinking and some may seem impossible BUT I encourage you to look for evidence that they are possible. You can start by looking at the possibility in others – can you find evidence of others (anyone, whether you know them personally or not) living your AND statement? When something feels possible it gives us hope.

Has anyone ever been able to live your AND statement?

I bet so.

Now it’s your turn.

If they can do it, so can you.

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