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Healing the Hurt of Black and White Thinking

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about healing, the painful habit of black and white thinking. So we all get caught up in what we might call cognitive distortion sometimes. So a cognitive distortion is when we make an assumption or a judgment based on minimal evidence or without considering the full or the bigger picture. And black and white thinking is one of the most common cognitive distortions.

So most life events are not completely disastrous or perfectly blissful, and people are not a complete monster or a living angel. We are not either a total failure or a perfect star. Life events and people, including ourselves, are not black and white. We actually contain many shades of gray elements of both good and bad. Black and white thinking also known as splitting is the tendency to view the world mostly in extremes or absolutes.

It's a very binary thinking habit where you narrow your worldview into either-or terms. So in other words, people are either good people or they're bad people. You're a success, or you're completely worthless. People are victims and they're villains. You're a loser, or you're amazing.

So this way of thinking doesn't account for shades of gray, and it can be responsible for a lot of negative judgments, both about yourself and others. So the more we rely on black and white thinking to interpret events and make decisions, the worse we tend to feel. In fact, this thinking style is very strongly correlated with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. To live a happier, more harmonious life. It's really important to recognize black and white thinking and take steps to change it where we can.

So one way we can heal black and white thinking is to replace either-or thinking with both and thinking an example, instead of it's either he's a good person, or he's a bad person consider he's a good person and a bad person. That is, he's got a lot of wonderful traits and does kind things sometimes. And he also makes mistakes and has flaws and weaknesses. Instead of it was a wonderful holiday or a total disaster, consider I had some really magical moments and really happy moments. And some things happened that were really painful and difficult.

Instead of I'm stupid or I'm brilliant. I'm really talented at certain things and sometimes I perform really well. Sometimes I'm not so good at certain things and I, my performance is poor. So using the word and helps us be non-judgmental and more understanding and accepting of both ourselves and others. Now, another way we can heal black and white thinking is to get comfortable in that gray zone.

For instance, instead of labeling yourself as a Republican or a Democrat, you might consider whether you fully identify with one simple category or whether actually you disagree and agree with policies and opinions on both sides. Instead of seeing behaviors in terms of right and wrong, good or evil, considering the complexities of the whole situation, the viewpoints of others involved and all the possible different perspectives. And instead of seeing yourself as part of a nationality, consider seeing yourself as part of a humanity. So try this out for yourself today. Replacing either-or thinking with both-and thinking and hanging out more in the gray zone.

And remembering to be compassionate with yourself as you practice and wishing you well with it. As always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And let's settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.7

Healing the Hurt of Black and White Thinking

Personalized support for learning how to integrate mindfulness into your life. Delivered fresh everyday by our world renowned experts. Choose meditation duration:

Duration

Your default time is based on your progress and is changed automatically as you practice.

Hi, and welcome to your Daily Mindfulness. Today, I'm going to talk about healing, the painful habit of black and white thinking. So we all get caught up in what we might call cognitive distortion sometimes. So a cognitive distortion is when we make an assumption or a judgment based on minimal evidence or without considering the full or the bigger picture. And black and white thinking is one of the most common cognitive distortions.

So most life events are not completely disastrous or perfectly blissful, and people are not a complete monster or a living angel. We are not either a total failure or a perfect star. Life events and people, including ourselves, are not black and white. We actually contain many shades of gray elements of both good and bad. Black and white thinking also known as splitting is the tendency to view the world mostly in extremes or absolutes.

It's a very binary thinking habit where you narrow your worldview into either-or terms. So in other words, people are either good people or they're bad people. You're a success, or you're completely worthless. People are victims and they're villains. You're a loser, or you're amazing.

So this way of thinking doesn't account for shades of gray, and it can be responsible for a lot of negative judgments, both about yourself and others. So the more we rely on black and white thinking to interpret events and make decisions, the worse we tend to feel. In fact, this thinking style is very strongly correlated with anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem. To live a happier, more harmonious life. It's really important to recognize black and white thinking and take steps to change it where we can.

So one way we can heal black and white thinking is to replace either-or thinking with both and thinking an example, instead of it's either he's a good person, or he's a bad person consider he's a good person and a bad person. That is, he's got a lot of wonderful traits and does kind things sometimes. And he also makes mistakes and has flaws and weaknesses. Instead of it was a wonderful holiday or a total disaster, consider I had some really magical moments and really happy moments. And some things happened that were really painful and difficult.

Instead of I'm stupid or I'm brilliant. I'm really talented at certain things and sometimes I perform really well. Sometimes I'm not so good at certain things and I, my performance is poor. So using the word and helps us be non-judgmental and more understanding and accepting of both ourselves and others. Now, another way we can heal black and white thinking is to get comfortable in that gray zone.

For instance, instead of labeling yourself as a Republican or a Democrat, you might consider whether you fully identify with one simple category or whether actually you disagree and agree with policies and opinions on both sides. Instead of seeing behaviors in terms of right and wrong, good or evil, considering the complexities of the whole situation, the viewpoints of others involved and all the possible different perspectives. And instead of seeing yourself as part of a nationality, consider seeing yourself as part of a humanity. So try this out for yourself today. Replacing either-or thinking with both-and thinking and hanging out more in the gray zone.

And remembering to be compassionate with yourself as you practice and wishing you well with it. As always, thank you for your practice and your presence here with us. And let's settle in for today's meditation.

Melli O'Brien

4.7

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