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Beyond binary approaches

Binaries - the yes/no, either/or, black/white, good/bad way of categorizing people, experiences, and the world around us - are everywhere in our culture. They’re an incredibly useful tool that help us sort a complicated world into two-options and clear categories. They tell us where we are, where we are not, and where we want to go.

And, for several hundred/a couple thousand years, depending on where you locate their emergence, binaries have been used in service of domination, of sorting everything and everyone into hierarchies: good/bad, better than/worse than, worthy of protection/deserving of violence. Almost everyone alive today lives in a culture founded on binary thinking.

The logic of binaries underlies almost every aspect of our lives, no matter our political orientations, religion or spirituality, class, race, gender, age, or ability. We’re so used to thinking in binaries it can be difficult to even recognize the ways they operate in our lives. They seem like a natural, normal, given, like gravity or sunsets. And yet, the more we study binaries, rather than taking them for granted, the more we learn how artificial and out of sync they are with the rest of the planet, and how much expansiveness and possibility actually and already exists in the world around and within us.

In my coaching and workshops I work to create space to untangle binaries, and the systems of domination they support, to consider and practice other ways of being, and to reconnect with the nonbinary ways of being that already exist within us. Each of us is always already nonbinary in our approaches, because the planet, and the life that exists here, are themselves nonbinary.

Want to learn more about binaries and nonbinary approaches? I write monthly emails about them over on substack.

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