I was journaling the other day and wrote “He always says sarcastic things. What’s wrong with him?” And continued on my negative spiral. A few sentences later, I caught myself and realized I was in an all-or-nothing thinking trap.
All-or-nothing thinking has its roots in survival. When faced with a life threatening situation, we need to make a quick decision. Fight or flight. We don’t have time for grey areas. But most of the situations we face these days are not life threatening.
It is important to honor and understand that part of you that is acting quickly to protect you in some way.
And it is important to learn ways to calm down that part of you so it doesn’t hijack you from being your best Self.
One way is to notice when we are caught in black-and-white thinking and ask yourself:
- Can I be basically an intelligent person and still do something stupid?
- Can I love my children and still get angry with them sometimes?
- Can my partner love me but sometimes be insensitive?
- Can one part of my life be difficult and other parts be easier and more enjoyable?
- Can a part of my life be difficult now but in the future get easier?
- Can some parts of an experience (such as a social engagement or vacation) be awful and other parts of it be OK? *
Of course the answer to these questions is “Yes”, but when you ask yourself these questions, you help slow things down, ground yourself and be more realistic in your thinking. It’s a way to untangle your Self from that part of you that can get depressed. I hope this is helpful.
*These questions come from the article called “’All or Nothing’, or ‘Black and White’ Thinking and Depression (http://www.clinical-depression.co.uk/dlp/understanding-depression/all-or-nothing-or-black-and-white-thinking-and-depression/)
(professional website: http://www.BethLevineCounseling.com)