The Tension In "Both/And"

Last week, many of us witnessed the world's response to the verdict of the police officers involved in Breonna Taylor's murder. Depending on your own beliefs and the beliefs of those you're connected to, the responses varied. I noticed feelings of outrage and hurt. There were some who weren't surprised yet still disappointed. There were some who were fueled and motivated to continue towards change while being agitated and annoyed. We also had some who were confused as to why people were emotional and found the verdict justifiable.

What I noticed within myself and others is that some of the emotions and thoughts were contradictory in nature: 

  • not surprised and disappointed 

  • agitated and motivated to pursue change 

  • saddened and hopeful for what's to come

  • I'm sure you can add your own

The juxtaposition of many of these feelings within a person may cause tension that I'm learning there is space for. As multilayered beings, it's normal to experience multiple emotions simultaneously. One emotion does not have to belittle or negate whatever else you feel. 

It's okay to develop ways to hold space for the both/and's in your life. To sit with the contradictions and maneuver through them at your own pace. I find that normalizing the existence of both/and's helps to reduce (although not eliminate) the internal conflict of these feelings and thoughts existing within. It helps to reduce anxiety, self-judgment, and creates space for self-acceptance of what you feel and think at this moment. 

It's okay to develop ways to hold space for the both/and's in your life.

The truth is, we are still journeying through hard times this year ... unprecedented times. So the both/and's you feel and think can be more common than many are verbalizing. Whether it's COVID-19, racial injustice, personal loss, financial needs, school, employment, housing issues, anxiety, depression, transitions, or other stressors - acknowledge your "both/and's". Embrace the tension, don't run from it.  

The tension these both/and's create do settle over time as you begin to identify for yourself what is true. These feelings matter, which is why it's important to hold space for them, but these feelings are not the end. The truths we choose to live by is our ultimate sounding board (we'll chat more about that another time). In the meantime, may you learn to hold space for the tension of both/and's that times like these produce. 

Rooting for you, always.

Diamond James, LCSWA

#BreakingDownStigma #EmotionalHealth #HoldingSpace #BreonnaTaylor #SayHerName

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