Dichotomy of Preference

This is a wonderful world of duality. The physical world as we know it could not exist and grow, nor could our consciousness expand, without duality. I think this is extraordinary.

Each of us selects the side of the duality that comes into our life by how/where we focus of our attention. We also get to choose the duality itself; that is, we choose the scale or dichotomy or opposites that define the duality. Always, on one end of a scale of duality is one thing/idea and at the other end is either the opposite or the lack of that thing/idea. The naming of the duality can be empowering or disempowering.

In most cultures, we’re taught at a very young age to distinguish between “right and wrong” and “good and bad.” I’ve found that these dichotomies are not necessarily paths to happiness. In fact, I often view them as paths to much unhappiness. As I see it, the reason is that such filters often lead to judging others or ourselves when falling into the “wrong” or “bad” side of the scale.

Another dichotomy that is particularly popular these days is “positive and negative.” This is a little more helpful in some situations, but leads to some of the same dynamics as described with “right and wrong” and “good and bad.”

Any of these scales would be greatly enhanced by adding “for me” or the equivalent at the end, so that we say or think, “this is good for me” or “this is right for my life” or “this feels positive to me.” In fact, that addition really does convert all these dichotomies into a similar approach to the the dichotomy of preference that I describe next.

“The dichotomy of preference” is a way of looking at a subject to decide whether or not you prefer it, like it, want it, etc. Is it something you prefer in your life or not? To use this dichotomy in the most empowering way:

* you notice what you prefer, and expand that preference by giving more and more attention to it; and

* you notice what you do not prefer, and minimize that non-preference by giving less and less attention to it.

An Example

I have a friend (I’ll call her Penelope). She’s an acquaintance, really, someone I know in a social setting, and only by her story-telling to the group. I think by nearly everyone’s standards she’s considered a “positive person.” She’s upbeat, smart, friendly. She’s also beautiful, successful, and interesting.

She wants very much to be married. She’s been looking for a partner for more than six years. Many people will have their opinions about why this is so, and they may or may not be correct.

Here’s my view of her situation: Penelope gives far more attention to what she doesn’t prefer, doesn’t like, and doesn’t want than to what she prefers or likes or wants. About a specific man, she often says, “I like (this attribute), but I don’t like (that attribute).”

She’s even warm and friendly when she’s talking about what she doesn’t like, often joking to provide entertainment value. Actually, some of her stories are so funny and engaging that even I laugh, although I recognize that this is keeping from her what she most wants in her life. I rarely laugh when people are disempowering themselves, so I can see that she is truly engaging.

Because of Penelope’s nature, it’s difficult to think of her as being “negative” or “wrong” or “bad,” but it’s easy to see that she’s giving her attention to the opposite of what she prefers (or wants or likes). And when any of us give the Focus of our Attention to what we don’t want, we get more of what we don’t want. Whatever we give our attention to expands.

Another example of how Penelope makes it more difficult for her partner to come to her is the fact that she counts the days and months and years that she’s been experiencing what she doesn’t want. Every holiday is a marker to tell her that yet another (birthday, New Year’s Thanksgiving, etc.) is approaching or happening or ending, and still she is not in a relationship.

Now, consider some of your preferences… Are you giving your attention to what you want, like, prefer, and want more of?