Life Is Not Black And White
Life Is Not Black And White
A common codependency trait is black and white thinking. What I mean by that is thinking in terms of extremes. It’s looking at things in an “all or nothing”, good or bad, right or wrong perspective. There’s no gray area. It’s using words like “always” or “never”.
But life isn’t black and white. It’s full of the gray area in between, and when we go around judging ourselves, others, and life with an extreme mentality, we’re not seeing it for the reality that it is.
For example, Don and Mary get into an argument. Mary, who struggles with thinking in extremes, says, “You always do this! I’m so sick of it! This relationship is horrible!”
Now, Don may not know what to think. Maybe he forgot to take the trash out. He does that every so often just because life gets busy and he forgets. It’s not all the time. It’s occasionally. However, Mary tends to think in black and white and uses the term “always”. She goes onto throw the baby out with the bath water, really feeling like he does this all the time and because of this, the relationship is awful.
Guess where she picked up black and white, or extreme thinking?
It was a coping mechanism her young self picked up to protect her emotionally. It’s an emotional defense mechanism that protected he as a young child, and now as an adult.
Her husband doesn’t always do this and most of the time, their relationship is excellent.
But somehow his not doing the task triggered in her an emotional response, and because it was an overly dramatic response, we can assume she’s reverted to an unhealthy coping mechanism picked up in childhood.
Good news is that you can learn to recognize when you’re thinking in extremes. Learn to detect when you throw out the words like “always” or “never”. Become more mindful of the words you are using, especially when you are upset.
As you do, you can begin catching yourself before you let your emotions hijack your brain, saving you from a heated argument.
Listen, if you’re looking to grow in your relationship and life, people will enter your life that will push your buttons. Those buttons, or old wounds, those are the things that are beckoning to be healed, so when you feel your emotions start to rise, stop for a moment.
Ask yourself some questions.
Why am I feeling so strongly about this?
Does he/she really ALWAYS or NEVER do this?
How old am I feeling?
Can I allow a grey area here?
Resist the temptation to make it about a right or wrong. A relationship takes teamwork, and teams don’t do well when they get into a power struggle.
Life isn’t black and white. It’s full of grey and all sorts of colors in between. If you’re prone to swinging one way or the other, go back to your childhood and have a discussion with your inner child. Let her know that she’s safe and loved. And, she’s so worthy of unconditional love. Extend that kind of love to her. That’s the kind of love she deserves, for she (you) are so worthy.
Blessings to you, beautiful soul.
Dominica Applegate is an author, writer, and transpersonal spiritual teacher. Her teachings have helped millions of people experience emotional healing, relationship repair, and spiritual awakening. Earning her BA in Psychology and MA in Counseling, she worked 12 years in the mental health field before diving full-time into writing.
She runs Rediscovering Sacredness, an online portal that offers inspiration, essays, resources, and tools to help heal inner pain and experience more peace and joy.
Her books include Recycle Your Pain: It Has a Purpose, Into The Wild Shadow Work Journal, and a collection of poetry entitled, The Pain, It Shapes Her World.