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Negative Thought Patterns: Black and White Thinking

Posted By  
16:00 PM

Do you ever find yourself thinking in absolutes? This thought pattern can go in several directions, you may think that you’re always right, a huge failure or that you only receive bad luck. This way of thinking is a cognitive distortion, not allowing us to see life and its many events for what they are, which is complex.  

How Black and White Thinking Can Impact Us

Having this ‘all-or-nothing’ mindset can seriously limit our ability to correctly discern situations and resolve conflict. These rigid limitations can greatly impact our mental health, as well as our ability to learn new things, progress in our careers and keep healthy relationships. Research has indicated this can even impact our diets, particularly the way we view ‘good’ or ‘bad’ food, the way we view our own bodies and engaging in binge eating cycles. 

How do I know if this is me?

While many of us engage in these thoughts from time to time, and may very well be a part of our ‘fight or flight’ response, Black and White Thinking can easily become a habit the more it is used and reinforced.  If you find yourself regularly using words such as perfect, ruined, always, never or failure in your thoughts and conversations, you may be applying Black and White Thinking to a situation.

Is Black and White Thinking a Diagnosis?

Black and White Thinking in some situations is very natural, however, this can also be a sign of more serious mental health problems and diagnoses. This includes Narcissism and other personality disorders, Anxiety, Depression, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder and when habitually applied to diet or body image, Eating disorders.

How do I Address my Black and White Thinking?

Black and White Thinking can impact us in many ways, so it is important to talk to a Psychologist or mental health professional. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy has been shown to effectively deal with this, focusing on identifying and challenging the negative thought patterns that impact our emotions and behaviour.

Some other tips to address Black and White Thinking include:
  • Write a Pros and Cons list
  • Considering other perspectives
  • Becoming aware of our thought patterns
  • Questioning your thoughts
  • Listing multiple options
  • Separating your performances from who you are

If you think you could use some help dealing with Black and White Thinking, our team of highly skilled and experienced Psychologists at Breakfree Psychology Services are here to help. Contact us today and start improving your rigid thinking.