Can You See These Shades of Gray?
I’m writing this from the couch because I can’t walk to my desk.
I can’t walk to my desk because I decided to go running after a long hiatus. Instead of a leisurely trot today and another one tomorrow, I threw myself into a three-mile run I should have worked up to. I figured if I was going to do it, DO IT. Bad idea. I’ll be out of commission for days.
Black and white thinking will derail you every time.
I see a lot of black and white thinking going on these days. With me, with the people in my life. All or nothing committments, “go big or go home” plans.
While the energy in that kind of big beginning feels motivating, you quickly burn out.
Instead of slow and steady (unremarkable) progress, we end up with spectacular failures. Paralyzing perfectionism. Dramatic crash-and- burn endings. Going down in a blaze of glory.
The universe seeks balance. The body seeks balance. Our creative process seeks balance. Black and white thinking is the enemy of balance.
If black and white thinking is all-or-nothing extremism, gray is the middle path. I struggle with gray a great deal. It’s almost unbearable for me to undertake modest plans, gentle shifts. As though manic, sweeping change proves my dedication. It doesn’t.
If you’re committed to success, you make small sustainable changes. You’re in it for the long haul. You tend to your goals quietly, every day.
But slow and steady isn’t very sexy, is it?
There’s so many ways we can engage in black and white thinking: a sedentary lifestyle or obsessive exercise, workaholism or sloth, binge and purge, a shopping spree or a monk-like existence, deprivation or excess.
In the long run, none of them will ultimately get you where you want to go.
Get out your journal and try some of these prompts to explore how you might incorporate more gray in your life.
What is the role of black and white thinking in your life?
- Is there something you’re not doing because you can’t “go big or go home” right now? Can you find a way to incorporate a little bit of that goal into your daily life?
- Are you mired in perfectionism? Afraid you can’t go whole hog so you’re not doing it at all?
- Do you make enormous changes all at once, stay dedicated for a week or two, and then burn out? Are you willing to consider another way?
- Can you find the middle path, the shades of gray, en route to your dream?
While moderation lacks the adrenaline and pizzazz of high stakes, it’s undoubtedly the most likely way to reach your goals.
After all, the tortoise was the winner in the end.