#256: “Maybe” Can Save Us From the Torment of Polarizing Extremes

What is the first word a baby learns? Take a guess.

And the winner is the word “no.” Well, maybe number one is “Mama”, but apparently “no” is near the top of the list of first words. The word “yes” comes later.

Learning to say and use the words no and yes is a developmental phase that psychologists call “splitting.” It entails the splitting of mental concepts into either-or black-and-white thinking. No versus yes, good versus bad, and so on.

Here’s the interesting bit. The word “maybe” and what it represents only enter our understanding at around the age of five. Until we turn five, we don’t think in terms of grays, of in-betweens. It takes five years for our thinking to mature enough to allow for uncertainties and possibilities.

It seems to me that some adults can do with maturing about five years so that they can admit to maybe now and then.

Welcome to my side of the nonsense divide.