binary thinking vs. limitless options

There’s this thing that happens when we feel trapped – our primitive brain takes over. We go into binary thinking, the black and white thinking mode, commonly called fight or flight.

Our brain tries to be helpful and narrow things down to just two options so that it will be easier to make a decision. Hah!

First of all, that isn’t easier, but we might come back to that later. Do you feel a little uncomfortable because I said “might”?

Secondly, it certainly doesn’t set us up for better decision making! What if there are better options out there than fight or flight? What about hide?

I am always so impressed and entertained when people in stories or shows come up with creative ways to get out of danger. They don’t make the obvious choice. Somehow they are not responding from that limiting place of black or white thinking. They are able to see beyond the binary and tap into their creativity and their intelligence.

How do they do it? Are they just wired differently? Probably not. But it’s actually the storyteller’s brain that we want to know about, right? They’re the one who is really coming up with the options, not the character.

Okay, so how do they do they do it, the storytellers? Well, they engage their problem solving skills. Problem solving requires you to look at a situation from multiple angles, to look for the loopholes and the root cause, so they push the limits. They look for multiple options, expand the options and examine the consequences. And the master storyteller intentionally looks for the surprise!

Limits aren’t binary. Why do we think solutions are? Oh that’s right, because we get caught up in binary thinking.

Here’s what I played with recently when I was feeling a bit trapped. I knew I was narrowing my options by being afraid. I was emotionally only feeling that my choices were binary – black or white, good or bad, stay or go. And the fear was also giving me an artificial sense of urgency.  So I paused. I slowed my breathing (so very helpful) and decided that I wanted to tap into my inner story teller.

That changed everything. Primitive brain was no longer in charge. I completely redefined the task. I wasn’t looking for the safest answer, I was brainstorming a bunch of creative options so that I could choose one that made the heroine of the story (that’s me) an amazing and interesting character. It was actually fun. I was distracted and forgot to be afraid. I  came up with three great options. And guess what? I discovered that I can do all of them, not just one!

Yes, it’s just a change in perspective. But that’s the first step to a miracle – being willing to change your perspective.

Look for the surprise!

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,

Maggie

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If you’re interested in using Color Thinking for your own leadership development program, let’s talk. I invite you to schedule a call if you’d like to chat about it.  Or email me: maggie@maggiehuffman.com

If you’re still aware of that hanging thought, the one I might get back to… having only two options doesn’t really make a decision easier. It just makes the options seem more extreme, more polar. It makes it seem more important to choose the right one, because the other one must be wrong.  It’s microdrama. Orange thinking just might be the opposite.

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