April’s theme is “The Grey Area”: finding the both/and, the multiple interpretations, rather than assuming something is firmly one way or the other.
Find something in your life that you’ve been assuming is firmly one way, black and white. It might be something that’s frustrating to you–a person that challenges you, a situation you’ve assumed isn’t going to change, or a project that’s been stressing you out.
See if you can interrogate what your assumptions are about whatever that thing is. Write a list of as many of them as you can think of. You might find some feelings make their way onto this list too; feel free to put them on.
Once you have your list, look through them and take a mental step back. Are any of these assumptions true? Can you look at them from a different angle, see them from someone else’s point of view in the situation? Could you ask for help on one aspect of the project and get something taken off your plate? Maybe there’s something you’ve been struggling with that you’ll find isn’t as clear cut as you thought.
There’s a funny thing that happens when you do this. Sometimes (especially if we’re organized perfectionists!) you think the best way to solve a problem is to isolate it, name it, box it in, and solve it. But people, projects, and complex situations aren’t always simple math problems; they’re more like theorems that can be solved a number of different ways.
Even though it seems like boxing something in and trying to solve it in a vacuum is the easiest, you probably find yourself frustrated in that process. In a paradoxical way, opening up that box and letting all of the different things that affect that situation, person, or challenge will help you realize that there are so many different ways to address it — and that it might not be a problem to be “solved” at all, but rather something that can be addressed and grappled with in a number of different ways. Release yourself from the idea that there is “one right way” and settle into the grey area, where there are a multitude of ways to go about doing something and no way is right or wrong, but rather will just lead you down a different path with new things to consider.
How to go about this? You can absolutely just think about it; for me, I definitely find journaling or writing down my thoughts in some way to be a great way to work through this challenge. If you like processing with another person, another great way to do it is to call a friend or family member you trust and see if you can bounce your thoughts off of them.
Once you do this in this more intentional way for a few situations, it becomes a lot easier to do this in many areas of your life. This practice has helped me immensely in being more aware of the things other folks around me are dealing with, and helps me be more compassionate when collaborating, more creative when problem solving, and kinder to myself in knowing that there are many ways to get things done.