Black and White Thinking–What It Is and How It Kills Communication

Many of us suffer from the addiction called “Black and White Thinking” but don’t see it or don’t realize all the trouble it causes.

Black and white thinking is “either-or” thinking.

It’s thinking there is only one option and not being open to hearing another…

And being stuck in one way of seeing a situation, usually butting up against someone who has a different viewpoint.

Black and white thinking can manifest in thoughts like…

It’s “one way or no way”…

“I’m right and you’re wrong”…

“You always…”

“This is the only way that makes sense….”

“They never see it my way…”

“She’s just wrong…”

“They never take responsibility for anything…”

“I’ll never make this work the way it’s supposed to…”

“My boss is such a ___________________…”

“My partner doesn’t see things my way and it doesn’t look like he ever will…”

These are ALL examples of what someone’s inner chatter is like when they are experiencing black and white thinking.

And the problem with that kind of thinking is this…

When you think in absolutes or “either-or” thinking like we’re describing and calling black and white thinking…

You lose all hope for new possibilities and connection.

And when you ignore opportunities for new possibilities…

Your choices for how you’re going to be in your relationships and how you’re going to live your life start to get narrower and narrower.

The truth is…

Black and white thinking is an absolute killer of connection and a destroyer of love and relationships.

How do you get out of it when you or someone you care about is so overwhelmed by it?

–You first have to become aware of what’s happening and create the space to open to other ways of seeing the person or situation.

Susie remembers early in our relationship being indignant when Otto told her he’s considering voting for someone in a political party she never supported.

For several years previous to meeting Otto, she worked for a particular party, canvassing and making phone calls.

For her, voting for people in this particular political party was a black and white issue!

The problem was that she expected Otto to feel the same way she did and that belief led to a snippy comment that went something like this…

“You aren’t going to vote for anyone in that party!”

Well he quickly reacted that Susie wasn’t going to tell him how to vote!

Luckily, Susie saw how ridiculous her comment had been which allowed her to consider another point of view.

She could see how she shut off any conversation by her comment.

She could see how she shut off an opportunity for connection and learning something new about Otto.

When you see your black and white thinking for what it truly is…

An illusion and barrier to love…

You can make the choice to be present, open and available to seeing something new in what shows up.

There’s an opportunity for more love, connection and understanding when you do!

If you’d like to talk with one of us about black and white thinking in your life, contact us here




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