Today I coached a client who was struggling with what we coaches call a false dichotomy. This is a war in the mind between to apparently conflicting issues, such as “I have to be a mom OR an entrepreneur.” Or, “I can’t write a book because I have to focus on my clientele.”
This got me thinking about false dichotomies. They sneak into our minds without us even noticing. Right after the coaching session, I headed to the kitchen to make lunch. While the oatmeal was cooking on the stove (being pregnant seems to involve eating a lot of breakfast foods, for some reason), I chopped some almonds. Then, I looked over and saw the walnuts sitting on the counter.
“Oooh,” I thought. “Maybe I wanted walnuts instead of almonds.” I felt slightly bummed for a moment.
Then, it hit me. It was a false dichotomy. All of a sudden, I realized there was no reason whatsoever I couldn’t have almonds and walnuts in my oatmeal at the same time. Revolutionary! And, freeing.
It’s funny how these rules show up in our minds and we don’t even question them. One can only have almonds OR walnuts. Really? Why? If I hadn’t questioned that false dichotomy, I might have missed out on what I truly wanted in that moment, and what was truly right for me in that moment.
In coaching, when a client has two conflicting ideas warring in her head, we use the word “and” to blow her mind, shake that false dichotomy loose, and help her move in a new direction. I am having almonds AND walnuts in my oatmeal. Whoa! Mind-blowing! I can write a book AND focus on my clientele.
Usually, when you throw the word “and” into a false dichotomy, you discover that in fact, it works much better as an “and” than an “or.” Focusing on clientele is what makes the book all that much better – there’s inspiration, fodder, and ideas. Being a mom AND an entrepreneur allows for a flexible schedule, more time to pay attention to both parts of life, and be present as needed. Eating almonds AND walnuts means even more fabulous nutrients for the body.
Anytime you find yourself saying “or” when you’re trying to make a choice, decision, or solve an issue, see what happens if you replace it with “and.” In the end, maybe you’ll decide you do want the almonds without the walnuts. And that’s perfect. But saying “and” allows you to truly check in with what you really want, and with what is really right for you. It opens the door to what is possible, giving you the most freedom and the most choice.
Play with “and” today and let me know what you discover! I can’t wait to hear what happens for you as you open new doors and start eating almonds AND walnuts on your oatmeal. (But only if that feels fabulous.)
Posted on May 31, 2012 at 7:00 am