December 2, 2014

Being Okay in the Grey: Eradicating Black/ White Thinking.

 black/ white

In the age of extreme sports we have also become extreme thinkers and communicators.

My father often said in reference to people quarreling:

“The truth is somewhere in the middle.”

In the grey.

Politics, vaccines, health care and religion are just some of the off the table “don’t talk about at dinner party” conversations. Why? Often people feel so strongly to an extreme that the discussions gets heated, offensive or even insulting.

This type of black and white thinking/ communicating can be seen in many subjects, not just at dinner parties, but in every day small talk, social media statuses and comments.

Extreme thinking and speaking is going to the furthest ends of reality.

Some of us use these extremes as a defense mechanism while others use it to “drama-up” conversations.  Most of us pepper it into our lives, while others may do it chronically. Our feelings can fluctuate from one end of the panorama, leaving our conversations and emotions feeling like a roller coaster.

Here are a few examples that might bring more awareness to your present thought and communication patterns:

Exaggeration or “drama talk.” When we are cold, saying we are “freezing.” When we are hungry, saying we are “starving.” It’s making a fact more dramatic by taking it to the severity. People that are different can be referred to as “weird” or “creepy.”

Notice if you are dramatizing your words and find a way to bring them back to a factual wording in the grey areas. This creates an even keel to extreme ups and downs.

Set for failure? The meer concept of black and white thinking makes such extremes, we can set ourselves up for failure.

If I am not perfect then I have failed.  

I’ve made an error, therefore I am stupid.   

Be okay, with grey. Be perfectly imperfect. With a compassionate heart, change what you can and accept the rest.

Over generalizing. Seeing a pattern based upon a single event, being overtly broad in the conclusions we draw or taking it to the utmost ends is over generalizing

“Nothing good ever happens.”  

“Everything is always messed up.”  

“People are so mean.” 

Can we instead take each event, situation, person as its own entity?  If the same patterns keep showing up in our lives, perhaps we need to go inward to see where the block within us may be.

Magnification (catastrophizing) or Minimisation. Blowing things out of proportion due to catastrophic thinking or inappropriately shrinking the importance of an event, situation or feeling leaves our emotions feeling erratic and over the top. Try to be real to the true reality and moving authentically from that place.

Imagine Dragons? Do you spend too much thought in fear and worry? Do you imagine the scenarios of doom and gloom? Much like catastrophizing, this one sends the mind (and therefore the reaction of the body and spirit) into a stress mode.

Instead stay present to the facts and try to imagine a greyer, perhaps more positive version.

Let go of these words from your vocabulary! Words such as “should” or “must” leave us feeling guilty for not being at the black/ white end of the spectrum—where we think we “should” be.

Instead, allow acceptance of what is and make your intention for the next step.

Over responsibility. This can leave us feeling like situations out of our control are our fault. (Conversely, blaming another person for something that was our fault.) Set intentions for outcomes and situations and then detach from the result. High intention. Low attachment. Own what is ours, and only ours.

Only 2 alternatives? In situations do we only consider the two opposite ends of the spectrum. I do this or I do that. In fact, there are usually several shades of grey to choose from. Explore the in-between areas!

By ignoring the shades of grey, we can easily judge ourselves and others—criticize or condemn.

As the holiday season comes upon us and all our fellow humans of the world celebrate different ways (Kwanzaa, Hanukkah, Christmas) consider allowing all to coexist in the delicious soup of life.

Finding the medium ground of celebrations, love and giving and receiving.

Finding the balance between super busy and over-stretching our calendars with quieter times of self care and realignment.

Explore the beautiful shades of grey in your life!



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Author: Kelly Spencer

Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Photo: flickr

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