Black and White Thinking – Rhoads Life Coaching

I have posted recently about how we think between a pendulum of yes and no, exaggeration, and being mechanical. Embedded in these topics is a binary system of approaching the world. We get stuck in black and white thinking.

When we think in binary terms (0 or 1, or black and white) we limit ourselves and those around us. In that swinging pendulum arc, the only two spots the weight comes to a full stop are at the extremes. This happens to us ALL the time. We are always looking for the simplest answer to our questions, right? “Just tell me what I have to do to fix this!” is a plea to get to the simplest answer, in the shortest amount of time, with the least amount of effort. It might seem to be easier to approach life with only these two options, but quickly these limited options reduce our ability to see better answers.

Think about the metaphor itself. IS your life black and white? (The answer is “no”). Our lives are a wide variety of shades and colors. We buy high definition digital televisions so we can see every single pixel in full color. We want to see all of the nit and grit in a movie, but want our lives to function like and computer of clearly defined ones and zeros.

So how do we recognize when we are thinking in black and white? It starts with self observation. What are your expectations in a specific scenario? Do you expect to get your needs met all the time? Do you expect to never lose? Do you expect your partner to agree with you every single time? Do you expect your stock investment to always go up? Watch yourself and observe your expectations. If there are only two possible outcomes to a conflict or exchange, you are stuck in black and white thinking.

How to get out of this binary mode? Slow down! The speed at which we make decisions across multiple topics dictates that we move fast to keep up. An important decision requires time and attention. Take a deep breath to slow down and disengage the binary thought process. Take time to consider someone else’s perspective. If you don’t understand how someone has made a decision, you are drifting towards black and white thinking. What is the motivation to avoid this trap? There options are too limited when you only have two possible outcomes to any given scenario. –

Black and White Thinking - Rhoads Life Coaching


finding meaning and purpose in daily life

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