If there is one thing that I have learned over the years, it is that there is no one way to do it.
There is no right or wrong.
There is no good or bad.
There is no black or white.
There’s only what is.
“What is” is a moment in time…”what is” is where you are today, it is the here and now.
It isn’t where you have to or should be, and it isn’t where you will always be. It is simply now.
We often get hung up on the judgement, criticism and discomfort of where we are, but the real question is not where you are today, but what will you choose to happen next?
What words will come out of your mouth next?
How will you choose to react next?
What is the next action you will choose to take?
Various internet sources estimate that an adult makes about 35,000 remotely conscious decisions each day (in contrast a child makes about 3,000). Thousands of these are around food, clothing, and other seemingly benign choices, but there are dozens of other choices that we make that will affect others and our path forward.
It is the ones around what we say and do that I think about the most.
And while it may seem like these might be insignificant or merely an issue of “semantics”, for a significant number of them, it is in the choice of what happens next that possibility lives. It is the choice that becomes your destiny.
Let me share an example or two so that you can understand more fully what I mean.
Last week I chose to write an open letter to Sheryl Sandberg; one that I crafted very carefully. I was intentional about the language I chose to use.
In response, some people chose to share kind and positive reactions/posts in support, others used their support as a vehicle for condemning and criticizing her.
Is Sheryl “bad”? No.
Is she “wrong”? No.
She and her book simply “are”. They are out there for us to look at and reflect on….and possibly react to if we should so choose.
After reading it, Sheryl reached out to me in the nicest, most gracious way to express her appreciation for my blog and to offer her support, even during this difficult time in her life. We had a lovely exchange.
As a result, I chose to create a new post sharing that she had reached out to me and a little more about why I believe it is so important to agree and disagree without judging, shaming, marginalizing or diminishing.
Dialogue, learning and growing can’t happen when we are critical and insulting….ever.
I am now in dialogue with Sheryl and the door is open to a relationship as I move forward; and I have also been in contact with many other women who share my thoughts as a result of this post and that is always a good thing. Possibility has been created.
Let’s look at another example. I got into a heated debate the other night with a wonderful man that I have gone out with a few times. We are political opposites, and of course, find that the subject comes up in our conversation regularly. But upon recognizing our political differences, we agreed that we would remain open to hearing what each other says and committed to sharing our thoughts in a respectful and engaging way, without putting each other down. That was the condition we set for ourselves.
Is it “bad” that we are no politically aligned? No.
Is he “wrong” for feeling the way he does? No.
It just “is”, and we both have the choice of how to move forward with each other…or not.
One night, however, we got particularly heated. We realized then that the bottom line is that we simply disagree. We both feel passionately about what we believe in and we will not be influencing each other’s opinion, regardless of how great our debate skills are. Instead we are choosing to agree to disagree, because we enjoy spending time with each other and value each other’s intellect and opinion.
Yes, there have been moments that could have turned into arguments; where we could have said unpleasant things to each other. We could have been critical and combative; however we are choosing differently.
I have hundreds of these examples.
Experiences with my ex-husband,
And yes, it is work. Choosing what to say and do, in a kind, clear, strategic and compassionate way is hard…and it requires discipline.
Remarkable things happen when we choose wisely; when we look at every choice we make as an invitation to what is possible.
Wherever you are right now and whatever you are experiencing is not good or bad, right or wrong, or black and white….it just is. You are exactly where you are supposed to be and now just need to choose what comes next.