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  • Writer's pictureStephen

Noticing the Boths of Life

One of my Strengths from StrengthsFinder (really powerful tools which I use a lot with clients), is called Ideation.  People with this strength have an easy time seeing and finding connections between seemingly disparate phenomena.  In other words, seeing how this idea over here, connects to that idea over there.  Allow me to use my Ideation with you this week in Noticing the Boths of Life.

The Boths of Life

This is the idea that so much of life is made up of both this, and that. Three illustrations from just this past week:

  • Someone who recently had a family member pass away said they were both sad and relieved at the same time.

  • I had a chat with an individual who felt both a sense of peace and anxiety about a situation unfolding at their workplace.

  • Earlier today I heard someone say they were finding it difficult to focus in their life right now, but they were also very grateful for what was happening in their life too.

These are the Boths of life. Things that don't seem like they might be true at the same time, and yet they are! We can't always explain or figure out why Both things may be true, but they are Both very real.


Thoughts and emotions arise within us almost non-stop throughout our days. When we are driving around town, thoughts and emotions about the traffic, or that car/driver are almost instinctual. What is also almost automatic, is that we usually just react to those thoughts and emotions, which can often have a whole lot of judgement attached to it. However, I had a conversation with a friend recently who is working on taking a more active role in just Noticing those thoughts and emotions without connecting any judgement toward them.  For example, using my driving illustration - I see that driver that came flying around me and then immediately got back over to take the next exit right in front of me!  I can react to that and think about how awful and terrible of a driver/person that is for being so reckless, or I can Notice that their reckless driving made me frustrated. I may also Notice that I was making some assumptions about that person without actually knowing anything about their situation (got an emergency call from home, is late for their own wedding, etc?). By Noticing rather than reacting, I can allow the thoughts and feelings to arise and let them pass through, without letting them hijack my mind and emotions.

And now my Ideation at work:

Noticing the Boths of Life

Often when the Boths of Life arise within me I tend to react with a sense of self-judgement, attempting to dismiss or diminish at least one of them. I make a decision that one of the Boths is right and the other is wrong. But what might happen if I was willing to simply Notice the Boths of Life?  

  • I have a family member pass away and I'm feeling both a sense of sadness and relief at their loss in my life.  Rather than dismissing one or the other of those natural emotions, what if I could just Notice Both of them and allow them to just be what they are in me? 

  • I have a sense of Both peace and anxiety about that situation at work, and rather than judge myself and try and dismiss one of them, I just Notice Both of them and allow them to be real and true about my experience right now?

  • It's really hard to stay focused right now on my work, but I am also very grateful for the space I am in with my work. How might I Notice Both of those realities and let them pass through me in a way that could help me learn and grow from them?

  • Yes, that driver is very reckless, and I am feeling very frustrated by their actions, but I also don't know their situation. How could Noticing Both their actions and my assumptions about their actions help me be more gracious and less reactive toward them?

Hopefully my Ideation is making sense!

What about you? How could Noticing the Boths of Life help you be less reactive and self-judgmental so your mind and emotions don't get hijacked as much?

Here's to Noticing the Boths of Life this week!

Be Well,


Center was created to support individuals and teams so they can live from their Purposeful Center.  We specialize in professional coaching and leadership development and we’d love to support you!  Click on our Services page to book a free consultation.

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