Black and White Thinking

This year I am focusing more on Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD).  There is so much negative discussion around BPD, and I think it’s important that there is more balanced conversation.  It’s for the sake of the diagnosed, the newly diagnosed and their loved ones.

Over the next few weeks I’m going to be talking more in depth about the diagnostic criteria for BPD.  I’ll also be relating it back to my own personal experiences because I think it’s important to have real stories alongside the information.  The first symptom of BPD that I am going to be talking about is Black and White Thinking.

A few months ago I wrote a post outlining the 9 diagnostic criteria for BPD and what they mean.  To save you clicking over (although it’s a good post that I recommend reading if you want to know more about BPD) Black and White Thinking is an all or nothing approach to life.  The thinking is based more on judgement and less on fact.

People who struggle with Black and White Thinking don’t see grey areas in the world around them.  They tend to think that life is all horrible or all wonderful.  There is no room in their thinking for anything else.  It’s believed that the initial all or nothing thought pattern is what is responsible for setting off our fight or flight response.

The fight or flight response actually aids us to be able to survive situations which we may find distressful.  However Black and White Thinking keeps people in that survival mode for longer than is healthy or necessary.  It also has the added effect of alienating those around us with our rigid thinking.

Social media is an absolute minefield for someone, like myself, who has to work hard to keep the Black and White Thinking under control.  At my fingertips are people who may not agree with the way that I think.  I then struggle to reconcile that different thinking with the person that I know.  I often lose friendships this way, although of course sometimes that is for the best anyway.

I have steps in place now that help me to determine if what I am feeling and thinking is an all or nothing response.  I am still struggling with working on the fly, and sometimes my emotions getting the better of me, especially if I haven’t been taking steps to take care of my own mental health.  However I have a step away from the technology rule for particularly emotive topics.

Black and White Thinking isn’t the issue that it used to be for me.  I once believed that I was a completely horrible person, rotten to the core.  I couldn’t provide evidence for this, not evidence that stood up against the test of logic anyway.  I believed it so much that I was afraid to tell people because I *knew* that if I did, that they would simply confirm my own beliefs.

I no longer hold that rigid belief.  I know that I am made up of different parts, that those parts are both good and not so good.  I also know that I am not everyone’s cup of tea, and that, that is ok.  I know that I am OK, that I’m not rotten to the core.

It has taken a lot of work to get to this point and of course I still have those initial fleeting all or nothing thoughts.  The difference is now I can recognise them for what they are, and I can put stops in place before I get myself too far into the rigid thinking.

Have you struggled with Black and White Thinking?

What steps do you take to make sure you don’t fall into the all or nothing trap?

Linking up with Kirsty for I must confess!


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