What I learned from life coaching is simple and amazing and can change your life. This little trick helped me reduce my stress level and enlarged my world of opportunities. When I share this tip with people they are dumbfounded by the simplicity of AND. It is a step process which can take less than a month to realize the huge benefit from the power of AND.
- Week one. Practice mindfulness (sometime called awareness training) for at least a total of six minutes a day for one week. You can break this up into three bite size pieces by focusing in two minute chunks. You can do anything for two minutes!! Right? Pick a few ordinary tasks or behaviors and bring your full attention into the task such as brushing your teeth, engaging your five senses while you are at work or on lunch, or noticing how you are sitting or standing right now.
- Next week. Put your awareness skills (mindfulness skills) to work. Count the number of times you use the words either, or in your conversations with other people or conversations you have with yourself. Yourself is the inner voice that engages when you find yourself in a tug of war. You will probably lose count of how often AND shows up which is okay. I am interested in your experience with the number of times you count either or so be sure to leave a comment below.
- The third week. When you notice your language is peppered with either or substitute the word AND and say the sentence again. Did you notice the difference? Is there a difference? What is the difference? Pay close attention to your feelings and your stress level (tug of war). Here is an example: “Either I love my uncle or I can’t stand him because he is overbearing.” Now let’s substitute AND. “I love my uncle and he is overbearing which I don’t like.” If you did not notice anything that is great too. The important behavior is you noticing you did not notice a difference. Keep noticing.
- The fourth week, you can do the same with yeah but. As an example, I struggle with anxiety about public speaking. My coach says to me, “You can give a presentation at the Colorado Counseling Association Conference.” Me, “Yeah but I can’t do a presentation I get too anxious.” Rerun with AND. ” I get very very anxious and I can give a presentation.” Feelings do not prevent us from engaging in behaviors. We can always choose our behaviors regardless of our internal state. Watch your thinking and the language in your mind. Are you really paralyzed with fear? I see you moving!! I say this lightly with a wink. We take language quite literal. We all do this. I have felt paralyzed with fear AND it was difficult and challenging to do things that scare me.
The nature of human language and cognition leads us to a place of continually evaluating almost everything we encounter. When taking the perspective of having a view point of seeing and saying things are good or bad, right or wrong, negative or positive with an either or mindset leaves little room for an expanded experience of life and especially of an expanded experience of who you are beyond an evaluation of good or bad. Successful or failure. Smart or dumb.
Does the experience of your world seem constrained? Do you find yourself caught up in a struggle of trying to figure out if you feel one way or another? You are not alone. How did we get this way? Entanglement with evaluations began a very, very long time ago. Think back to when humankind first lived in caves on the savanna. How do you think each generation survived to produce another set of offspring?
The paranoid and skeptical caveman and cavewoman who were constantly looking for danger by evaluating the surroundings on the savanna were the survivors of the tribe. The survivors had a keen eye for good or bad leading to strengthening their cognitive abilities to judge and evaluate each new situation as safe or dangerous. Fine tuned skills developed for assessing how to get lunch without becoming lunch. Our language evolved along the lines of survival and problem solving.
Fast forward to the world of today and we still use the same skills of judging and evaluating with a strong emphasis on the words and concepts of either or. Either we are safe or we are in danger. You may have thoughts and say things like, I am either mad or happy. I am either good or bad. Lovable or unlovable. Worth or unworthy. Capable or inept. It is the nature of survival that is embedded in our thinking and language and we can be grateful for being hardwired to survive. Yep, you can be grateful.
How can the word AND change your world? The word AND can let you step into a life that feels bigger. A life that feels more peaceful and a perspective filled with more opportunity for authenticity. How does this work? Simple! Practice awareness of how often you use the words either or and yeah but. That is only four words. I know you can do this. Simply practice noticing. See the above four step process. A quick version: You can start with counting how often you say those words in one day. Then the next day when you notice yourself using either or replace it with AND. When you notice yourself saying yeah but replace it with AND. It’s easy. When you replace either or with AND notice how you feel and notice what your mind does. Same for yeah but. Just notice what happens when you replace it with AND. Does your perspective change? How do you experience yourself? Are you entangled with decisions about solutions?
The result is you can have your feelings of anger, fear, frustration, sadness and feeling bad or unlovable without having to get rid of them or solve the problem of your feelings AND still proceed in doing what matters most to you. In other words, you can feel angry and still be friends with someone. You can feel depressed and still go for a walk. You can feel unlovable and still act loving. The beauty of AND is that you do not have to make a choice of either or you can have both experiences of good and bad and all the other feelings that might show up.
The same goes for yeah but. Let’s say you are offered an opportunity to go on an amazing adventure to someplace you have never been before and your mind says yeah but I am too scared. Yeah but leaves you with no choice. You can say, “I am scared AND I will go on an amazing adventure.” You can say, “I am scared AND I am not interested in this amazing adventure at this time.” When you say AND you have a created choices regardless of your fear. You have left the war zone.
It is a great joy for me to watch people transform their lives with the ability of increasing their awareness skills so they can notice how language and cognition is a tool to be used to grow a larger way of living. One of the next pieces of creating a fulfilling and meaning life is to gain clarity of how AND is connected to your heart’s desire. Once you are relieved of being entangled with the struggle of solving the problem of either or and yeah but ask yourself, “What next?”
Let me know how it goes!!
- 6 Reasons Why You Might Not Want to Let Go of Your Anxiety (psychologytoday.com)
- Can we really trust our mind?
- 5 steps to personal growth and happiness
(C) copyright 2015 Brenda Bomgardner