CBT–All or Nothing Thinking

Some of you will know how frightening it can be to stare at a blank page, knowing there are words that need to fill it and that those words are yours! I seem to be doing that right now. How do I organise the thoughts in my head and begin to write? You Start! So I did and this is what appeared:

Imagine Shades of Grey…not completely white and not completely black, but somewhere in the middle. I struggle with this quite a bit. It can be identified as All or Nothing thinking. An example could be “I am not trusting anyone” to “I am trusting everyone”. I’m sure you can see the problems this might create. One would be cutting off the world and the other would be honoring everything the world has to say. Both are problematic and the only change one can see would be converting to either extreme. But, if we can begin to think in Shades of Grey, we can give ourselves a window for change. Without this window, altering our perspective becomes very difficult and we can remain stuck in a pattern of thinking that is destructive to our well-being.

Think of that perfect relationship–with friends or a loved one. HELLO! It doesn’t exist! But if we think it does, we can be driven to the extreme of completely cutting off the ties with that person. Thinking in shades of grey grants us some sense of pleasure in these relationships, allowing us to live a more fulfilling and enjoyable life. We can also experience less bitterness and disappointment in our lives. Or imagine that perfect assignment/job/adventure; once again, it just doesn’t exist! We are laden with our humanity and with the humanity of others; humankind comes in whispers not in screams. Shades of Grey help us respond to existence and situations with the humility of imperfection.

In reflection, All or Nothing thinking stops us in our tracks. There is no allowance for the gift of being human–either with ourselves or others. We need to appreciate our own humanity before we can allow others the same experience. Give yourself a break and you will be able to do the same for others.

peace balance empathy

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