Good-bye Black and White Thinking
There's one thing I've noticed - and it's that so many things I learn and read are re-packaged wisdom. Not only do I think this is okay, I think it's fabulous!
I love the idea of universal wisdom. You could take a belief and probably find many examples of where it is taught in historic and contemporary culture. Just looking at "the importance of what we think" related to how we feel about life is covered in the Law of Attraction, The Four Agreements, You Can Heal Your Life, Man's Search for Meaning, and yes > Wanda Petunia!
This week I've been thinking about black and white thinking. Reflecting on this takes me back to my grad school days when I learned about Albert Ellis, the founder of Rational Emotive Behavior Therapy. Ellis admitted that his theories and therapy stemmed from Asian, Greek and Roman philosophers.
His main focus was that we do not get emotionally disturbed by difficult situations, but more by our view of the situation. It is our belief about our experience that forms a consequence and that affects our feelings.
You can find his irrational beliefs list in various forms online, and I will list one version at the end of this post.
The beliefs are really about releasing black and white or all or nothing thinking >> and instead finding something that feels better - do you hear Abraham Hicks here? (And, if you don't know the reference ask me - I would love to share!)
I've actually been spending this month rewriting my beliefs. My friend Kim Irene Muse created an online writing group for March to inspire daily writing. The goal was to write books, screenplays, poems.
I decided to turn my often ridiculous "fiction posing as non-fiction thoughts" on their head by exploring them. Every day, I've been re-writing a belief I have that doesn't feel good into something more truthful and better feeling. It's not about lying to myself but instead delving into reason and rational, as opposed to triggered emotion.
If you find yourself getting into harsh and polarized thinking, you might want to explore other options - gentler and more compassionate ideas. Life is full of so much goodness, and it's easier to see when we let go of black and white... I'll keep that for my wardrobe and not my thoughts!
How about you? Let me know what you discover as you delve into what you are thinking about in black and white ways... I want to know!
12 Irrational Beliefs – Albert Ellis
1. The idea that it is a dire necessity for adults to be loved by significant others for almost everything they do-- Instead of their concentrating on their own self-respect, on winning approval for practical purposes, and on loving rather than on being loved.
2. The idea that certain acts are awful or wicked, and that people who perform such acts should be severely damned -- Instead of the idea that certain acts are self-defeating or antisocial, and that people who perform such acts are behaving stupidly, ignorantly, or neurotically, and would be better helped to change. People's poor behaviors do not make them rotten individuals.
3. The idea that it is horrible when things are not the way we like them to be-- Instead of the idea that it is too bad, that we would better try to change or control bad conditions so that they become more satisfactory, and, if that is not possible, we had better temporarily accept and gracefully lump their existence.
4. The idea that human misery is invariably externally caused and is forced on us by outside people and events Instead of the idea that neurosis is largely caused by the view that we take of unfortunate conditions.
5. The idea that if something is or may be dangerous or fearsome we should be terribly upset and endlessly obsess about it-- Instead of the idea that one would better frankly face it and render it non-dangerous and, when that is not possible, accept the inevitable.
6. The idea that it is easier to avoid than to face life difficulties and self-responsibilities instead of the idea that the so-called easy way is usually much harder in the long run.
7. The idea that we absolutely need something other or stronger or greater than ourselves on which to rely -- Instead of the idea that it is better to take the risks of thinking and acting less dependently.
8. The idea that we should be thoroughly competent, intelligent, and achieving in all possible respects -- Instead of the idea that we would better do rather than always need to do well, and accept ourselves as quite imperfect creatures, who have general human limitations and specific fallibilities.
9. The idea that because something once strongly affected our life, it should indefinitely affect it -- Instead of the idea that we can learn from our past experiences but not be overly-attached to or prejudiced by them.
10. The idea that we must have certain and perfect control over things -- Instead of the idea that the world is full of improbability and chance and that we can still enjoy life despite this.
11. The idea that human happiness can be achieved by inertia and inaction -- Instead of the idea that we tend to be happiest when we are vitally absorbed in creative pursuits, or when we are devoting ourselves to people or projects outside ourselves.
12. The idea that we have virtually no control over our emotions and that we cannot help feeling disturbed about things -- Instead of the idea that we have real control over our destructive emotions if we choose to work at changing the “musturbatory” hypotheses which we often employ to create them.
The Emotional Intelligence Training Company Inc. www.eitrainingcompany.com
musturbatory aka perfectionist