I FAILED my test. I have NO friends. I don’t know ANYTHING. NO ONE cares. I’ll NEVER get it. I’m ALWAYS wrong. I’m a bad student.
I ACED my test. I’m friends with EVERYBODY. I ALWAYS just know. I LOVE [fill in the blank].
These statements above are examples of what we call black and white thinking. The definition?
Black or white thinking: a mentality where an individual tends to categorize everything into one of two categories.
A lot of us tend to do this. So no, you’re not mentally ill or need therapy just because you think this way. Sometimes when we are feeling strong emotions, it feels better to express them this way.
However thinking this way too often, especially when you’re talking to yourself, can be harmful to your mental health.
If every time you get a grade of an 89 percent or show up at work one minute late a few times makes you a lazy, terrible and irresponsible failure, can you imagine what your overall perspective of yourself would be?
You’d think you’re a failure who is never good enough when really, you could be getting nearly straight As and getting to work promptly 95% of the time.
So, what do we do about this?
Its a simple thought-by-thought challenge.
Are you catching yourself telling yourself you’re bad or a failure again?
- Recognize it. Because often times, we do it without thinking.
- Think objectively. Are you really what you said you are? Would your best friend or someone who really cares about you agree? Or are you just being super hard on yourself again…
- Preach the truth and move on.
Changing the way you think takes time because you’re literally reconstructing the way your brain neurons are connecting. So as you work at this, please be gentle with yourself. It’s okay to mess up. Just keep at it 🙂