Have you ever thought about the beauty of the word sometimes?
Sometimes is a great word. It’s so much more honest than always or never.
I know this because black-or-white thinking is one of my not-so-super superpowers. “So & So is an asshole.” “I’m a total success.” “I’m a complete failure.”
It seems like extreme thinking is a teenager’s superpower too. Just last night, I overheard the following examples from our teenagers at home, “I totally failed that test.” “I’m always awkward around other people.” “I never know what to say.” “I’m an idiot.”
It made me wonder, Is our tendency to exaggerate making us feel sad and stuck? If we were more honest with our words, could we be happier?
In Lori Gottlieb’s book, Maybe You Should Talk to Someone, there is a single paragraph about the word sometimes that I’ve been savoring like the last ripe berries of the season.
Gottlieb writes, “[The word] sometimes evens us out, keeps us in the middle rather than dangling on one end of the spectrum or the other, hanging on for dear life…It helps us escape the tyranny of black-or-white thinking.”
Our brains are wired to remember the negatives more aggressively than the positives. We may feel like we are always blowing it, but the truth is we are crushing it more often than we think. So now I’m teaching the teens in our home to try it (complete with eye rolls).
“I’m awkward, sometimes.”
“I don’t know what to say, sometimes.”
“I act like an idiot, sometimes.”
I’ve been practicing as well. It works like an alarm to wake me up from catastrophic thinking.
“I succeed sometimes.”
“I fail sometimes.”
“So & so is an asshole, sometimes.”
The little word “sometimes” that I may have judged before to be too average and dull now keeps me from falling off the cliff of extremes. There’s relief knowing it’s not always or never.
It’s a simple way to build compassion in the world for ourselves and for others. “Sometimes” is also a tool to stop beating ourselves up so we can show up real. Because we want to show up whole and human, always.
I’m baaack coaching and speaking again! I’d love to help you thrive amidst all the unexpected changes in your life. I’ve also crafted a 45-min keynote on how people and organizations can thrive in turbulent times. Do you know an organization or conference that needs this message? Get in touch with me.