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    Black & White Thinking: A Cognitive Distortion

    Do you find yourself thinking in absolutes? Black and white thinking (also known as all-or-nothing thinking) can provide us with a false sense of safety. This cognitive distortion can be a result of trauma. With a traumatic experience, it can often shake our world view and leaves us searching for concrete answers as a way to decrease doubt or confusion. Although this way of thinking may have been a coping skill during a challenging moment, this cognitive distortion can also be limiting to our growth.

    Black and white thinking limits our ability to see all the variables in a situation and instead, pushes into absolutes. This pattern can often show up in our self-talk. Some examples are:

    “I didn’t make it to the gym in the last two days, I’m never going to get better. I’m a failure.”

    “When I was sick last week, I didn’t practice my self- care and didn’t get any of my errands done. I am never going to make progress.”

    Maybe you have been moving your body consistently everyday, but because you didn’t “go to the gym,” the thinking pattern forces you to cling to the absolute of “I am failing.”

    I encourage you to push yourself to explore the in-betweens. The reality is, very few things are absolute. If you find your mind engaging in negative thinking, push yourself to challenge the thought. What are some ways that you have succeeded this week? How have you made progress? No matter how small or big. Seeking out and acknowledging the grey area allows for self-compassion and grace. Despite popular opinions, self-criticism and bullying is not actually motivating you to improve or grow. Let’s start challenge these beliefs together.