The Limits of Black and White Thinking

We have a habit, as humans, of binary thinking. It’s either this or that. We’re either on one side or another. Or so we think. Life doesn’t work like that. Not really. It’s rarely that clean.

I love contrarian thinking. I love debate. When I was younger, it’s how I released my anger—by taking the opposing view and backing it with whatever intellectual might I had at my disposal. Some may have labeled me a flip flopper (cue the 2004 election for any of you old enough), but really what I was exploring was the truth inherent in seemingly contradictory streams of thought. And the limits inherent in both.

Because the truth is always a limit with intellectual thought, with ideas. It’s really only when the rubber meets the road that things get interesting, when nuance and shading come into play.

See, the thing is: one can oppose an idea, but one can never really oppose a feeling. Who is to say what you are or are not feeling. Who can argue with that?

And still, we’re so often afraid to voice them. We are more likely to shout and scream about an idea or belief than we are to say, simply, that we are scared or lost or lonely.

I think it has something to do with proof and self-worth.

We can back up opinions with thoughts and references, but when it comes to our feelings the buck stops with us. We are our own validation. We are our back up.

Why do so many of us lack faith in our own interpretation of events? Especially when our subjectivity is what makes us interesting, what reveals us?

I had a friend who used to drive me crazy. Every time I relayed a story to her, she doubted my interpretation. Every. Time.

I later realized this was a mirror to my own lack of self-trust, my own self-negation, but at the time, I found it disorienting. Isn’t everybody’s memory subjective? And isn’t that the point, in a way—to lean into our experience enough to share it? And from there be open to hearing another’s?

Feelings are messy. They cloud our experiences, but in the best way. We aren’t moved or catalyzed by facts, we’re moved and catalyzed by our emotions, by the things that pull at our hearts, that ignite our passions. And that’s what makes life beautiful, makes it rich with meaning. Who would want it any other way?

Artwork by Michelle Favin of Whys LA for Poppy & Seed.  Connect with her @whyslosangeles.

Danielle is available for one-on-one spiritual advising and astrological counseling. To learn more visit her website at www.daniellebeinstein.com or email her at danielle@poppyandseed.com
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