Are you Caught in the Realm of Black and White thinking?

Do you hear yourself saying things like “I’ll never…..”, “I always…”, “It’s ruined…” or if something goes wrong in the morning, that’s it, the whole day is a right off and it’s a ‘bad’ day before you’ve even left the house. If you do, you may be caught in the realm of thinking in black and white…

What is thinking in Black and White?

Black and White thinking, or ‘all or nothing’ thinking, is seeing the world in one extreme or the other, something is either ‘good or bad’, you are either ‘right or wrong’, there is no in-between or grey area.   The student who gets a B in English but A’s in every other subject, believing “I am a failure ” for not getting A’s in everything, is an example of black and white thinking.

Do you Live in a Black and White World?

Take a moment now to think about the language you use on a daily basis, if someone asks you how was your day, do you only respond with “good” or “bad”?, if you don’t achieve something you had in mind, do you jump to the conclusion you are stupid or a failure?  A lot of the time we are using black and white language without even realising it, which in turn can have a negative effect on our general well being.  Do you say to yourself anything along the lines off:

“You are either a winner or a loser”

“If you don’t do it to the best of your ability, it isn’t worth doing at all”

“Anything I do is likely to turn out badly”

“If I mess this up, I’ll never get another chance”

“It’s all my fault my partner left me”

“If something can go wrong, it will”

“Anyone who thinks that must be an idiot”

The language we use, can have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves.  When we judge ourselves, situations and others based on these extremes, it can become very easy to feel negative about yourself, to feel disappointment, anger, frustration and anxiety.

The good news is, we can change the way we feel about ourselves by simple adding shades of grey into our thinking, to find the middle ground.

Finding the Shades of Grey

The world we live in is complex and thinking in black and white over simplifies life, for example, you may say ‘that holiday was a complete disaster’ but was it?  Yes, there may of been elements which didn’t go according to plan but because the unexpected happened, doesn’t mean it was a complete disaster, think about what was good?  Find the middle ground.  Lets say a child is failing a maths test and they say “I’m stupid”, they could say instead “I’m not great at maths but I’m good at sports” or english or whatever it is.  Because you fail a test, doesn’t mean you are stupid, if your partner doesn’t understand your point of view, it doesn’t mean they don’t love you.

By finding the middle ground or the shades of grey, it can help turn unrealistic thoughts into more truthful and realistic ones, which in turn will be less anxiety inducing and help have a positive effect on your general wellbeing.  Are you quite hard on yourself?  Be kinder to yourself by allowing yourself to make mistakes and accept there is uncertainty in this world, we can’t control everything.

See the World in Colour….

Norman Vincent Peale said “change your thoughts and you change your world”.  I really like this quote, because it’s simple and true, I see it every day in my clients; how changing their thoughts, changes their world, and you can do it too, if you choose too.

If you would like to know more about how to change your thoughts, so you can change your world, contact me for a free telephone consultation, with no obligation to book a session, just a chat to see how Elizabeth Donegan Cognitive Hypnotherapy at Hypnotherapy Bury St Edmunds and Hypnotherapy Ipswich can help you change your world.



Book: How to Master Anxiety by Joe Griffin and Ivan Tyrrell,  HG Publishing 2007