“An area intermediate between two mutually exclusive states or categories, where the border between the two is fuzzy.”
Fuzzy. Wishy-washy. Unable to pick a side. There can be a negative connotation to this phrase. It might be associated with lacking passion. To me, being in the grey doesn’t mean that you aren’t passionate, that you don’t have strong beliefs, or that you can’t make up your mind. It means you understand the need for balance in life and don’t run straight to extremes. It means you are reasonable, thoughtful, and able to consider both sides of a situation or multiple perspectives at once.
Sometimes, choosing one side over another isn’t the answer. Instead, finding balance between two things can make you the most well-rounded version of yourself. Many behaviours, thought patterns, or perspectives exist along a continuum or spectrum. You may find that sitting in the middle of that spectrum can provide you with the most clarity and functionality in life.
Here are some examples of generally opposite ideas, thought processes, or actions and how balancing both of them can help us grow.
- PS I’d like to say that not all of the pairs listed below are straight-up opposites or “extremes”. Some are more like different ideas within a category, but I thought it would be helpful to draw attention to how using them in combination can be beneficial.
Open mindedness and critical thinking.
Both of these practices are intelligent and expand our minds. Open mindedness allows us to learn new things and hear new perspectives, but on it’s own, can cause us to blindly believe whatever we hear. Critical thinking allows us to question what we learn based on our previous knowledge, but alone can cause us to become unable to believe or consider another person’s perspective.
We aren’t contradicting ourselves if we choose to use both of these tools. By balancing critical thinking and open mindedness, we can respect and learn from another person’s perspective without letting it replace the information we’ve already learned. Instead, we can add to our bank of knowledge where we see fit.
Practicality and dreaming big.
When I get going on the topic of making your wildest dreams come true, I can sometimes forget about real life obstacles that get in people’s way. My writing can come off as unrealistic or inconsiderate of those who are struggling too much to simply “make it happen”. However, I still believe that no one should settle and everyone should dream big, otherwise they may sell themselves short.
Dream outrageously big and then tame it back, making reasonable steps towards your bigger goals. Be idealistic when thinking about your dream life but be practical when you plan out how to make it happen.
Empathizing and motivating.
I greatly value empathy in people. Being empathetic means you can understand where someone’s coming from and almost share their feelings with them. However, when you over-empathize, you may contribute to someone wallowing in negative emotion, or you may even become victim to being manipulated or taken advantage of. On the other hand, you could be more of a motivator. At their extreme, motivators come across as the person who only listens to give advice/share their experiences or even as a pusher of their ideals.
Sometimes people want advice, sometimes they just want you to listen and empathize with them. A good balance between empathizing and motivating is having the ability to understand where someone is coming from and how they’re feeling while also avoiding contributing to their own victimization (which can lead to them feeling that “life has done them wrong”). You can show your support and acceptance while not subscribing to their negative choices or thoughts by inspiring them and focusing on their strengths. Help them find the qualities they possess that will help them overcome their obstacles.
Listening to your emotions and analyzing your emotions.
It is good to listen to you heart/gut/emotions when making tough decisions. When I was working a job I hated that gave me good money and status, I listened to my emotions (sadness, stress, lack of fulfillment) in order to finally make the tough decision to leave it. If I had only followed my logic, I would have stayed at this job for way too long, burning myself out and becoming depressed. However, sometimes we need to challenge our feelings to make sure they’re not coming from a place of fear.
For example, if you have a feeling that you want to leave your job because it’s difficulty stresses you out, consider the following: is this a job you want to succeed at? Do you know that doing the difficult things involved in this job will grow you and eventually reduce your stress? Or is this job never going to fulfill you and therefore causing you unneeded stress? If it’s a job that is hard in the right way (pushing you to grow and making you learn skills you actually desire), then you may need to find the balance between listening to your emotions and analyzing which ones are coming from fear. Don’t act upon fear, or you may end up leaving a job that could eventually fulfill you.
Being self-confident and being self-critical.
When you are only self-confident without critically analyzing yourself, you can inflate your ego. However, if you are only self-critical, you may tear yourself down over and over again. Being self-confident and critical, in conjunction, means loving yourself while constantly growing. It means knowing your strengths and how to use them to better yourself and the world, and knowing your shortcomings, to improve upon them in order to experience personal challenge and growth!
Thank you for reading, please let me know if you can think of any other spectrums where balancing the extremes can be helpful!