A Black and White Life

Do you ever hear yourself saying things like

  • No one likes me.
  • I don’t do anything right.
  • Everyone hates me.
  • I’m just a screw up.
  • Nothing ever goes my way.
  • I’ll never find anyone who will love me as I am.
  • I’m always broke.
  • I can’t quit smoking/lose weight/stop drinking.
  • I’ll never be able to do that.
  • I’m a total mess.
  • ___ Insert your self-defeating statement here.___

I will admit. I always did that to myself and never looked at what was good about me.
What is wrong with that statement? I “always???” did that? I “never???” looked at what was good? Really?
Those are very black and white statements.
Words like always and never are very blanketing words. I am implying that I looked at only one side of the equation at all times.

To say something more correct (not to mention more loving towards myself), I can say that I have often spoken harshly about myself and that I have rarely looked at what was good but I am not a total failure as I implied with my “always and never” comments.

When I began changing the way I spoke to myself and tried using words that were more gentle, my view of myself as a TOTAL useless failure began to improve. Sure I made mistakes but every single thing I did wasn’t a mistake. Some people don’t like me… but some do. I can’t seem to lose more weight but I haven’t gained any either. I’m a total mess on some days but not on every day. Sure I am often broke… nope. I am always broke. πŸ˜‰

In my not so distant past, I always felt very strongly that things were one way or another. There was very little middle ground. Then I met an occupational therapist that would put both her hands out in front of here like she was using her hands as a scale. She would raise one slightly then the other and say “Things do not have to be this or that. They can be either or both.” She was trying to encourage those of us in her classes to use more balance in our words and then with our thoughts.

Why do things need to be so black and white when there are a rainbow of options out there?
If you are having a bad day or even a bad week, does that mean you have a bad life? It doesn’t need to if you are willing to accept that life can be great and life can suck. Sometimes on the same day.
If someone is rude to you, must that mean that all people are arseholes? Sure some are, but not all.
Some people will be hateful, mean, angry, abusive, horrible, narcissistic, criminals, or a wide range of other negative personality traits but it is really important to always remind yourself that there are also good, kind, caring, thoughtful, law-abiding, compassionate people out there as well. One does not cancel out the other but they can balance each other out a lot.

In my life I was surrounded by a LOT of negative. It seemed as though terrible things happened every single time I turned around and to a far to large degree? That statement is correct. My mother was abusive and put me in to constant danger, my father ignored it, my siblings took part at times, teachers ignored the bruises, social workers came and left without so much as a raised eyebrow, a school councilor broke my trust and phone my mother to tell her about my “crazy stories”, a current day therapist really hurt me greatly and was more harmful than helpful… I have every reason to say that this world is a horrible place, people are terrible and I am not safe anywhere. I’ve seen the worst of the worst in humanity and no chipper blog can change any of that.

BUT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The kindness I have been shown by the people who read this blog has been incredible.
The programs and groups that are run to help the abused or the addicted can be found almost everywhere. I have to drive 2 hours each way toΒ  get to one but it is there.
There are an incredible amount of volunteers and some very underpaid workers that devote a lot of their time to whatever cause they believe in.
When a disaster strikes, whether caused by humans or by nature, people swarm together like bees to honey to help whomever they can.
There are some really crappy therapists but there are some really great ones too. Over this past year I have been blessed with a great one after more duds than I can count. The difference he’s made in my life is palpable.
Social workers did not hear my voice when I was young but they listen to me now in groups to find out what they missed, why they missed it and what they can look for in the future. Many of them truly care.
I can go on and on but the point is that there is positive out there to help balance the negative. We just have to make space for it.

So what if we all try to steer clear of those always and never statements and attempt to find a little more balance? Changing your words can change your world and the way you see it.
Life does not need to be either/or.
It can be either/and.See rainbows.

7 responses to “A Black and White Life

  1. This is so true. When it comes to people I have been a mostly-rainbow person, a pleaser, wanting everyone to love me and always looking for the good/positive in people no matter what crap life threw at me. A real “Pollyanna”.
    Until the last couple of years.
    Now I’m mostly a black-an-white person in how I view people, and perhaps with good reason. In some ways this isn’t a bad thing; I’m more streetwise, less trusting and am learning to have more faith in my gut instincts. The downside of this is the negativity, especially in how I view myself and my abilities.
    You have worked so hard to find your middle ground Heather, and have really inspired me to find mine. Thank you!xx

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    • I think you actually have it backwards my friend. I hope you don’t mind me explaining how I see it?
      I think you used to be very black and white. Everyone was allowed in your life and you bent over sideways and backwards to please them all. That is very one sided. Very black and white with mostly white. πŸ˜‰
      I think you are more a rainbow now. You are starting to learn that different people deserve different levels of your attention and time. Some people have been brought closer, some pushed further away, many seen for who they really are and treated accordingly. I think you are well on your way to a much more balanced life.
      I also do not feel that you are a negative person. I think you are just seeing things more for what they are now and it seems negative after decades of prettying everything up.
      Its not an easy science to master but you are miles closer than you used to be. I am proud of you and all your hard work.

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      • Thanks Heather. I’m so grateful for your support and advice. That DOES make more sense, and I DO have a more balanced and realistic view of people these days. Sometimes my anger and intolerance gets the better of me though, and I need to watch I don’t go too much the other way! : ) A work in progress!

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      • You have a heart the size of a lion and patience to spare. Just because you occasionally wish bodily harm on someone who parks in the wrong space doesn’t mean much at all. πŸ˜‰

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  2. You are so right. I have had to wait longer than most to find the good people in my life but now that they are here it is much more helpful to use words like usually, frequently, sometimes rather than always or never. I try to not say anything to myself that I wouldn’t say to a beloved friend and that helps a. Lot too.i have just started reading your blog and I enjoy it very much.

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    • Thank you! I’m glad that you’ve commented so now I am aware of you as well. πŸ™‚
      I’m very pleased to know that you’ve made this change in your life as well and find it helpful.

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  3. Dancing butterfly

    Negative and automatic thoughts are just that. The work comes when we notice the verbiage and then take autopilot off and install a more balanced thought. It’s hard to recognize sometimes and even more challenging if you don’t have evidence readily available to counter the black and white thinking.
    It takes practice for sure. I love the rainbow.
    Thanks for sharing.

    Like

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