We’ve been hearing this term in the news lately, primarily related to politics. As we watch the nightly news, we’re inundated with partisan politics that serve to drive us further and further apart until we are unable to hear and understand what the “other” is trying to say.
In psychology this is know as “black/white thinking” or “all/nothing thinking”. It’s a way of thinking in extreme terms so that when one experiences intense emotions, it’s often related to something being all good or all bad; all right or all wrong. There’s an inability to see the gray area, the nuances that are present in most situations. An individual might be seen as perfect rather than someone who’s human with strengths and weaknesses. Alternatively, they might be viewed as horrible when they truly are human beings doing the best that they can.
Applied to experiences, one might reflect on a vacation as the worst ever because of a storm that occurred. But when reflecting on the entire trip, one might find pockets of happiness or blessings that occurred while stuck inside that make this a time to relax and connect.
If you look at institutions, most people don’t love to pay taxes. But there are both good and bad aspects to this democratic process. There are costs and benefits which allow us to function as a society. We are blessed to have police protecting us, roads that are generally well-maintained and parks that are pleasant distractions after a long week of work.
For those that find themselves stuck in this pattern of experiencing life as unbearable or realize that there is little joy in their lives, the idea is that we must begin to LOOK for the nuances, the subtleties that exist that might allow us to begin to nudge our awareness toward the reality that there is balance in our experiences and our lives. We can search for those things that connect us rather than immediately focusing on the thing that separates us. As we begin this intentional act of noticing and accepting, we can then begin to connect with the “other” and explore the possibility the we are all good AND bad; right AND wrong. Or another way to say it – we are all human!