• Everything is neutral – until you colour it in.

    2nd May 2018 | Blog
  • Another way of saying that is this quote from Shakespeare’s Hamlet: ‘Nothing in this world is either good or bad. It’s only thinking makes it so.’

    I love this quote because it sums up the underlying message in all of my mindset blogs, which is that there is always another way of looking at things. Until you add your own unique interpretation, or until you colour it in in your unique way, everything is neutral. Things in themselves are like a blank canvas.

    What inspires the colours you use, or forms your interpretation, is your unique set of values, beliefs and thoughts. These in turn depend on your culture, lifestyle, background, experience, etc.

    If your immediate response to that quotation is ‘Yes, but what about X? That’s a universally bad or good thing’, chances are that somewhere in the world, within however small or isolated a culture, or in however extreme circumstances, your X is viewed differently.

    For example, in many cultures, it’s believed to be wrong to take someone’s life. However, there are still countries that still have a death penalty. You could deduce that in those cultures it’s believed that taking someone’s life is wrong except in certain conditions, i.e. when the state takes a life in punishment.

    The same principles apply to more everyday things. Is there something that you think is terrifying, funny or thoughtful but someone else thinks differently about? That could be something like public speaking, skydiving or walking along a dark street late at night,

    The reality is that however convinced you are about your own opinion or belief, someone else will have a different one. You interpret it, or colour it, differently from each other. Therefore it’s not the thing itself that has the quality or the definition. Nothing is inherently terrifying or fun or thoughtful. It’s what you think about it that makes it so.

    Your thoughts are coloured by previous experience, either yours or somebody else that you’ve heard about.

    As we travel through life we start attaching meaning to things according to our individual experience. Often that’s helpful because we are alerted to potential danger or harm as well as pleasure or joy. Where it’s not so helpful is where you become so attached to a particular meaning for something that it causes you discomfort or stops you from doing something.

    Sometimes it’s helpful to work out where that belief or thought comes from. Maybe it was based on someone else’s fear that they’ve passed on to you. Even if it’s based on their experience, your own experience may not be the same so don’t always let that hold you back. Question how valid or real your thoughts and beliefs are.

    Taking a few moments to reflect on why you attach your particular meaning to something and wondering if there could be a different way of seeing it may help you become unstuck.

    How else could you see it – or how could you colour it differently?

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