Black and White Thinking

Have you told yourself that you are the best or the worst, everyone is against you, or everybody loves you? You can do anything or nothing at all. But what happens in-between?

Where is the in-between?

 These are all common phrases that describe a particular type of cognitive distortion that has you thinking in extremes: black and white thinking. 

It is not uncommon to swing from one extreme to the other when you think in extremes. This tendency causes challenges in how one perceives themselves and instability in relationships; it can cause mood swings. As a result, you might experience difficulties at work, relationships, forgiving yourself, working in a team, and it has a negative effect on your mental health. 

Why does it affect you so much?

Because life is shades of grey (I’m not talking about 50 shades)

What’s the good news? 

You can change it!

I’m not saying it’s an easy change, but doable.  

First of all, check out your words! Do you often use always, never, everybody, nobody, impossible, all ruined, total failure, perfect, should, ought to, disaster? 

Now try to use different terms, such as sometimes, occasionally, few people, or good at some things, bad at others.

Try to distance yourself from the situation. If it was your friend, what advice would you give them? 

List other possible options. 

If your friend cancels on you last minute, it does not necessarily mean that they don’t want to spend time with you. List the possibilities: they got sick, had a bad day, had no money to go out, ran out of time, something came up.  

The best trick is with listing possibilities is to shift the focus outside of yourself and put yourself in their shoes.

When you think in extremes, ask yourself for proof. Does everybody really hate you? Even the postman or that lovely lady next door who always waves at you? 

If you still think you are the problem, you can also ask for clarification. 

Therapy can be beneficial

If you find it challenging to do it alone, you may need additional guidance and suggestions.

Therapy is an excellent source of information about yourself. In addition, you can learn more methods to deal with these thoughts.  

11 thoughts on “Black and White Thinking

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