When I was younger, I saw everything in black and white. People were right or wrong. Decisions were good or bad. Straight people in the eighties had two ways of looking at people’s sexuality: gay or straight. I look back with kindness on my younger self, but I know now that life exists in the gray and this is where I want to allow myself and others to spend their time.
One definition of “the gray area” is a place or a situation where it is difficult to judge what is right and what is wrong. I prefer to look at the gray area as more of a curiosity zone. Instead of judging people as right or wrong or good or bad, I remind myself get curious about people from a place of love. After all, who made me the moral arbiter of other people?
Judgement is often our go-to response when we observe something that looks different from our frame of reference. This is because we don’t like feeling uncomfortable. When we see something or someone that looks different from how we expect, or acts in a way we don’t anticipate, it can leave us unsettled. We can also experience cognitive dissonance when we are confronted with new information that conflicts with our existing beliefs, ideas or values. This dissonance presents as mental stress or discomfort and can also be felt by people who are trying to hold on to two or more contradictory beliefs or values at the same time.
The fact is, we are not trained to be able to handle discomfort. Whenever we feel uncomfortable we try to resist the feeling or avoid it instead of just feeling it. The harder you push against a negative feeling the longer it will hang around. Trust me, I know! When you really allow yourself to feel a negative emotion, it will pass. The emotions of life are 50/50 my friends. We aren’t supposed to feel happy all the time. But we have been led to think that we should be.
We can save ourselves a lot of mental gymnastics if we choose to let other people exist in the gray. If we acknowledge that the gray area exists we can allow the dissonance. Because being a judgy person is exhausting, and isolating and mean. A little discomfort isn’t so much to ask of ourselves if it lets others live their truth in peace.