Humans tend to think in binary. Ford or Chevy. Coke or Pepsi. Colgate or Crest. Apple or Windows. This is typically good fun and simply a preference (not to mention fodder for an internet quiz).
In our lives and the decisions we make, we also often see things in binary. I can either do this OR this. We fail to see the buffet of choices, and that's where we can feel stuck or lose our sense of agency.
Enter the power of &.
& means that you can choose differently. & means aligning your values to your choices. & allows you to ask for what you want. When you live with an either/or mindset, you limit your world and limit yourself. If you shift your thinking and ask What can I create here?, you start living in an & world. Those in the improv world know this as 'Yes, and...', as a way to keep the show moving. To say no, or either/or, would stifle the creativity and story the actors on stage are co-creating. Looking at the world with the & spectrum allows for more choices and more abundance.
Let's use an example I've lived out before. You're invited to a party. A pool party. With swimsuits. And that one guy. Instantly, your options seem to shrink and become 1. Go or 2. Don't go (and save yourself the indignity of wearing a swimsuit plus the horror of wearing it around that guy). There's fear there. There's insecurity. You have a rule about wearing swim suits... in that you don't.
So because you are a smart, whole, self aware person who knows that they'll hate hearing about how great the party was the next day, you decide to take a beat and shift from either/or to a Yes & approach. You:
- List your known options, and then ask what else? (Allow for even silly options, allow yourself to be creative). Show up in a ghost costume, which covers everything. Ooh! Wet ghost costume contest!
- What if it were easy? What if you wore your swim suit, and went? That is literally step one and two. Or didn't wear your suit and went anyway? Options!
- Notice if you are imposing any self-created rules on the situation. (i.e. I can't go to that event because then I'd have to xyz). Sometimes we create rules to help ourselves, but often they are there to protect us from things we fear, or are insecure about. Is your rule serving you, or no? If you like swimming, want to have fun in the pool with your friends, but your 'no swimsuits' rule is prohibiting you, perhaps that rule needs to go.
- What if there were no limitations-- what does your heart want? Your heart may want that guy to notice you from afar, take the ghost sheet off your head, and give you a big smooch, but more than that, you want to just go & have fun! Permission granted. You're allowed to not have to overthink things!
You can go to that party & and you can totally be yourself. You can go to that party & only talk to the people you want to talk to. You can go to that party & you can leave whenever you want. You can go to that party & you can have fun!
The power of &, my friends.