"The groundwork of all happiness is health." - Leigh Hunt

Black and White Thinking: Causes, Symptoms and More

Black and white pondering is a thought pattern that causes people to think in absolute terms. For example, it’s possible you’ll think that you simply are either at all times right or that you simply are the world's biggest failure. Psychologists consider this pondering pattern to be a cognitive distortion since it prevents you from seeing life as it truly is: complex, uncertain, and continually changing.

Black and white pondering doesn’t help you discover a middle ground, which could be difficult to keep up in a lifetime of these extremes. As we turn into less rigid in our pondering, we are able to stop using “all or nothing” statements to depress ourselves without examining whether or not they are true or not. This “cognitive” technique permits you to see what you might be doing and refute your false impressions.

While it's normal to experience black and white pondering at times in life, if it persists it may very well be an indication of something more serious. All-or-nothing pondering is usually related to these states:

narcissism. Narcissism is an exaggerated, excessive interest in oneself. Black and white pondering could be a symptom of this personality disorder. People who are suffering from it often have difficulty getting help because they quickly reject doctors and therapists.

Anxiety and depression. When people suffer from anxiety and depression, they often think in absolutes. More extreme emotions may cause black and white pondering to turn into worse.

Borderline personality disorder. Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness that causes people to experience strong feelings of anger, anxiety and depression. They often have symptoms of poor impulse control and sometimes exhibit black and white pondering.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It's common for individuals with OCD to think in absolutes since it gives them a way of control and luxury. This can result in great rigidity that makes change difficult.

Black and white pondering can have very different effects in your mental health, depending on the cause.

Relationships. When you approach normal relationship conflicts with extreme black-and-white pondering, you regularly draw incorrect conclusions about other people and miss opportunities to speak things out and compromise. Examples could be:

  • Suddenly persons are moved from the “good person” category to the “bad person” category
  • Quit a job or fire people
  • Dissolve a relationship
  • Avoid an actual solution to the issues

Learn. Many courses have easy performance measurements: “pass” or “fail”. This can lead students to imagine that they’re either good or bad in school, with no middle ground. Adopting a growth mindset may also help students see the worth of incremental progress as one gets closer and closer to mastering the topic.

Career. Sometimes black and white pondering may cause you to turn into too rigid. This mindset could be a problem in work environments where there’s plenty of collaboration and sharing of various ideas.

Diet. Overthinking what you eat can severely limit your weight-reduction plan and make it harder so that you can try latest things. This style of pondering also can cause you to view your physical appearance and body as only good or bad, which could be harmful to your mental health.

If you ought to think less in black and white, try the following pointers:

Reframe your pondering. If you end up jumping to extremes, try difficult yourself. Consider why you may feel this fashion and whether there’s one other viewpoint that it’s possible you’ll not have considered.

Be careful what you say. Black-and-white pondering words like “always” and “never” are signals to listen to. When you hear yourself saying things like this, remember to switch them with other words like “maybe” and “sometimes.”

Assumption. If there’s one constant in life, it’s change. Try to get comfortable with not knowing every thing. It's okay to ask for more time to think or say, “I don't know.”

Cognitive behavioral therapy. Many psychologists recommend something called cognitive behavioral therapy, which might enable you to overcome unhelpful thought patterns.

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you:

  • Learn to acknowledge distortions in your pondering that create problems and work against your habits.
  • Gain a greater understanding of the behavior and motivation of others.
  • Use problem-solving skills to handle difficult situations.
  • Gain greater confidence in your personal abilities.
  • Move from extreme pondering to a more flexible and adaptable mindset.

With the appropriate strategies and skilled help, you possibly can learn to switch extreme pondering with healthier, more helpful approaches.