Black and White Thinking.

Welcome back! Happy Monday. 🙂

I never knew there was such a term as black and white thinking. That’s really no big deal at all except that when I found out what it was? I realized I did it incredibly often. I almost want to say “all the time” but that would only  prove that I still do it. 😉

Black and white thinking is when you look at a situation and you only see one option. It is this way or that. No in-between. Yes or no. Few maybes. This on its own is no big deal at certain times. Being decisive is a great ability that some people struggle with so if you can do it well? Enjoy it.
With black and white thinking you are taking a situation and rather than looking at the possibilities, you look at it as if there is only one possibility.
This example is a bit extreme but it will help me illustrate the point. 🙂

You want to take up running. You’ve never run before or you ran a very long time ago and you are rather out of shape now. You decide to set a goal to eventually run a marathon. You know it will take quite some time but a marathon is your end goal. Weeks later while you are out there doing a daily run, you find that you just don’t think a marathon is ever going to happen. So what do you do? You quit running.
This is how you see things when you think this way. It is very “all or nothing”. The idea of running just for fun, for your health, to keep a friend company, or many other reasons is suddenly not good enough to keep you going solely because a marathon s no longer possible.

This way of thinking can affect most anyone.
Plans with your mate to go to dinner and a show are made but then your friend has to cancel out on dinner. “Forget it! Cancel the whole night! Why even bother going out?”
Go to the store and they don’t have your favourite brand of coffee in stock? “They NEVER have my coffee anymore.”
You tell your child to take their lunch to school and they forget. Again. “That child will never learn to listen to me!”

These statements and situations do not allow for any wiggle room nor do they accurately give the facts. They show a very narrow view of your current situation.

  • So you can’t run a marathon. Few people can but the fact that you are doing something active and healthy is fantastic. Another goal of a shorter run or beating your previous time would be uplifting too.
  • Why is a movie out of the question if you can’t go to dinner? Go to dinner with someone else or do an errand to fill your time. The movie might be awesome.
  • How about asking the customer service at your store to make sure they order more of your coffee so they’ll have it next time?
  • I can’t defend the kids too much here. They rarely listen… but it is untrue to say they NEVER listen or they will never learn. They will… eventually.

Then their are comments like…

  • You never listen.
  • She doesn’t care at all about me. She never did.
  • He doesn’t care if he hurts my feelings. Ever!
  • Why should anyone care what happens to me?
  • There is no point in trying that. Nothing ever works for me.

These comments all have two things in common. They are very exaggerated and they assume that the other person involved  is out to purposely harm you. They don’t take in to account whatever they are dealing with.

  • Maybe the person who didn’t listen to you had a horrible morning and just can’t get past it even though they are trying to.
  • She likely did care at one point but something may have happened. It doesn’t mean what you had was never real.
  • Men do care if they hurt your feelings but they are not mind readers nor do they think like women. Cut him some slack and tell him exactly what you need.
  • Others do care what happens to you but in truth? Most people are so wrapped up in their own daily struggles, responsibilities, relationships, errands or workload that they don’t look up often enough. It has nothing to do with you.
  • Really? NOTHING ever works? That’s a harsh look at your life and not possible. Some things had to work to get you where you are today.

I guess all I am really trying to say is that it is easy to make blanket statements that make a situation look far worse than it is. If at all possible, try to remove your blinders (I own a great set too) and look for other possibilities. Every situation has a lot of possible solutions. If you are having trouble finding them for yourself? Ask a friend, family member, spouse, or therapist to help you.

A calmer, happier, more positive, and well rounded life awaits. 🙂See rainbows.

4 responses to “Black and White Thinking.

  1. A very nice read, I am a true believer in looking for a positive in a negative in life in everything in general if I can. Life has a lot of good surprises install for all of us.


  2. I’ve spent much of my life thinking in black and white, primarily because that is the dynamic I was raised in and exposed to most often. DBT has really helped me shift away from that type of thinking and find comfort in the gray area. A work in progress, but worth it.


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