I have a wonderful job – I get to work with amazing people. Often I get to meet some of their family members. Occasionally those family members aren’t supportive (at least as I would like to see them being supportive). Even more rarely, I will overhear comments about my being there to help. One spouse in particular would make comments when I would arrive – “we don’t want any,” time after time. He could have been kidding or he could have been frustrated. In truth, it could be either of these, or both, or some combination of any number of things.
It’s much easier to put those experiences into “boxes” that we understand – oh, they made that rude comment to me so they must be rude. Or as so many of us take the responsibility on ourselves – they did this or that, so it must be because they’re upset with me. Our explanations for things can fall into a context that makes sense to us – and often is a clear-cut, black or white interpretation. This may or may not be the truth for them.
Where’s the middle ground in how we view things? Well, first it’s incredibly hard to simply hold an experience and not put it into a “box.” It takes energy and focus. We have to look at it – rather than shove it away and maybe avoid it.
We do these same things with our own behaviors – we label ourselves as “good” or “bad” for this or that choice, behavior, action. I know very few people who go around making bad decisions – they make the best choice based on the information they have, their own personality, and values. As with everyone on this planet, it was the “best” decision they could have made in that moment and situation.
Consider a pro-con list – with each choice you’re considering there are pros and there are cons. They are personal to you – your pros (and cons) might not be anyone else’s. It’s the opposite sides to one coin – the choice contains both the pros and cons – at least potentially.
The same thing can be said of the things we do with our life – day to day. We go to a job that often frustrates us, yet it’s not as simple as just needing the money – we believe in what we’re doing and find joy in it periodically. We have so many interests that we fill our schedules full and our anxiety skyrockets – yet we wouldn’t change it and find those activities rewarding. We buy containers to organize the stuff surrounding us that sit unused adding to the stuff around – yet there’s hope for making changes. Our ongoing behaviors and choices can have both pros and cons within them. It’s not as simple as black or white.
My job means that I will sometimes work with people whose family isn’t as supportive of them as I would like them to be. It doesn’t mean that I won’t do this work or work with those clients. And it doesn’t mean that I will understand what is truly going on with the family members – their concern, their frustration, their whatever – unless they share with me.
There’s nothing wrong with the duality and it doesn’t have to be one or the other – “good” or “bad.” There’s nothing saying that we can’t live with and stay with those contradictions in our lives. It doesn’t make it easy to see and hold the duality though. When we can open our eyes, see the pros as well as the cons, and accept it – then we gain some clarity – a big picture view. And maybe changes will have to be made, but even then, the next choice will have some duality too!