Break Out of Black and White Thinking
Today I want to talk to you about a style of thinking that can keep us trapped in anxiety.
Black and white thinking.
If you can’t see the shades of grey in between the black and white then you are limiting yourself to a fixed point of view. Having a dualistic mind tricks us into thinking that we have life all figured out. It gives us a temporary feeling of certainty and control.
The truth is, this all or nothing style of thinking narrows our vision, limits our possibilities in life and can make us feel more anxious and stressed out than necessary.
It also causes us to harshly judge ourselves like this:
I’m right or wrong
I’ m good or bad
I’m strong or weak
I’m smart or stupid
I’m a success or failure
This type of thinking most definitely isn’t fun, because it forces you to live in a world of extreme pressure to fit into one or the other – mostly the right, good, strong, smart, successful part – and the pressure you place on yourself to meet these expectations will riddle anyone with anxiety!
Most things in life are not ‘completely disastrous’ or ‘absolutely wonderful’, but contain elements of both. When you are thinking in black and white, you don’t see the shades of grey in between. You get stuck in what is right/wrong or good/bad – nothing else.
You see…life doesn’t work this way. There are degrees of good and bad and everything in between, that’s what makes us human and living in this world an experience. Unfortunately, black and white thinking keeps you rigid and judgemental without flexibility, what kind of balance are you going to achieve with a mindset like that?
I know a bunch of people who fall into this style of thinking – perfectionists! Do you know any?
Perfectionists are extremely hard on themselves. When they don’t measure up, or meet their own high standards and expectations they beat themselves up. “I should have said something different, I should have done that better, I’m a failure because I didn’t make the cut etc.” – Nothing is ever perfect.
Living this way, being rigid, being perfectionistic can keep you anxious. and unhappy. It is tiring and stressful constantly trying to be in control to meet a set of standards that aren’t actually achievable.
You have no room to be flexible in who you are, and you don’t allow others the freedom to be themselves.
Rigidity also affects your body
A rigid thinking mind = a rigid body. If you can’t be flexible in your mind, then that rigidity is going to manifest somewhere. The tension gets translated into your body via tension, pain, headaches and anxiety. Not fun.
Break the Habit of Black and White Thinking:
1. Recognize when you are going into black and white thinking. Observe the expectations you are holding over yourself and others.
2. Notice when you are ‘shoulding’ all over others. You don’t need to be in control of everything. Realise you would like certain things to be done your way, but realise it isn’t yours to control.
3. Be accepting of things even when you don’t agree with it.
4. Find a different way of thinking about the situation you are in. What shades of grey can you bring into the picture, that you may have been missing? What is another way to think about this?
Once you make the realisation this is something you do, then you can make the decision to step into changing it. That is where true power lies.