Black and White Thinking Black and white thinking is when you look at something as all good or all bad; right or wrong; believing that something can be only one way or another without anything in-between. Black and white thinking is just that-- either black or white, with no "shades of grey".
Shoulds and Musts
When we think or say "I SHOULD", or "I MUST", this only puts pressure on ourselves and sets up unrealistic expectations. For example "I should get this house cleaned today"... "Should-ing" yourself only leads to feelings of shame and guilt, which aren't healthy motivators for change.
Current situations and events can trigger upsetting memories, leading us to believe that the danger is here and now, rather than in the past, causing us distress right now. For example, if you used to be in a relationship where your partner got quiet every time he/she was angry with you and right before they would explode with rage, which caused you a great amount of distress. Now, in your current relationship, every time your partner gets quiet, you attribute it to them being angry and withdrawing attention from you, causing you distress all over again, even though your current partner isn't angry and doesn't rage. The only difference is that in the current situation, the uncomfortable feelings are imposed upon the other person and not necessarily true.
What unhelpful thinking habits did you notice this week?
Joleen Watson, MS, NCC, is a therapist at Imagine Hope Counseling Group. She enjoys doing marriage counseling, relationship counseling, couples counseling, and individual counseling. Imagine Hope also specializes in family, child and adolescent counseling and serves Indianapolis area including the surrounding areas of Carmel, Noblesville, Zionsville, Westfield, and Fishers.