Happy Monday! It’s time for another personal post (so, warning you now, before you curse at me when I lure you into reading about me as a human who emotions and struggles, instead of our usual banter about books or writing wonders).
But, I apparently suffer from black and white thinking, which is something I never thought about–or really realized, before–but, now that I know it’s a thing, I see it 100%.
According to the most reliable of all sources, Wikipedia, black and white thinking–also known as splitting–is “the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism. The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground).”
My therapist, who I’ve been seeing for the past two months, introduced this term to me, during a session where we went over a worksheet that introduced a few different ways of thinking and she had me discuss whether I believed I found myself in those camps of thinking. When we came to this one, I was like, “Eh, prolly?”
Then, at our next session, I was telling her about my new routine I tried and she asked how it went. I then told her how I smashed it the first week and then completely failed the second week (and haven’t tried since) and she was like, “Ah, so your black and white thinking is coming out.” We talked about a few other things that meeting, but black and white thinking continued to reappear, over and over and over again.
For me, this kind of thinking really amplifies my depression, because I view myself–and what I do, what m goals are–as an all of nothing thing. It’s either a 100% success or a 100% failure. I’m either 100% happy with myself or 100% hate myself. There is no in-between, no middle ground. It doesn’t matter if I get up and work out on Monday and Tuesday. If I miss Wednesday, I’m a complete failure, the week’s been wasted and I guess I have to wait until Monday before I can try again.
It’s really bad when it comes to my self-image. I am always hyper-focused on the negative thinking, when it comes to body image and self-worth. I am always convinced that, since I’m fat and I’ve gained a lot of weight, I am now worthless; that because I’m fat, I don’t deserve to like my hair, or feel pretty when I smile or admire my tattoos. It’s all or nothing and I’m a whole lotta nothing.
Writing it out like this, it’s obvious how harmful this kind of thinking is, especially when I’m looking at a routine and judging my success based off an entire week. This type of thinking is also hard because it doesn’t take into account the complexity that is life. It doesn’t allow me grace when I’m on my period and can barely move because the cramps are so bad, so I missed a workout. It doesn’t allow my flexibility when my day job has completely drained me and I know no productive writing is going to get done later that evening. It doesn’t allow for understanding and kindness when I snooze my alarm and skip an early morning walk because my body just needs more sleep than what is considered “average” for today.
Plus, when I think in this way, it just encourages and opens doors for my anxiety to spike and my depression to spiral, causing my moods to drop and my own self-worth to plummet. It also really heightens my comparison struggle (looking at others and thinking, “Wow, she is gorgeous” or “Whoa, they have the perfect book”), which definitely doesn’t help my own self-esteem, either.
I’m glad that I realize I think this way, at least. I’m hoping, that through that realization, I’ll be able to do a better job of recognizing it and allowing myself more leniency than I’ve ever given before. But, if anyone has tips for combating this type of thinking, I’d love to hear them (of course, I’m working with my therapist on this, as well, but I’m always open to new suggestions and ideas).
Thanks for reading about how my brain works! I hope you’re staying afloat and doing all you can to survive such weird times.