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Black-and-white thinking, also known as all-or-nothing, polarized, or dichotomous thinking, is a thought process that involves viewing things in absolute terms with only two possible outcomes to a situation. According to the American Psychological Association (APA) this type of thinking is considered a cognitive distortion because clouds one’s worldview by interfering with one’s ability to bring together both positive and negative perceptions of the self, others, or circumstances into a realistic, whole view. People who struggle with these cognitive distortions often think in extremes, believing something is all good or all bad without a middle ground. Although simplifying things into easy, binary terms may seem appealing, there are several ways all-or-nothing thinking can adversely influence your life: 

  1. It can negatively impact your relationships: According to psychological research, all-or-nothing thinking can condition us to neglect to perceive nuance, which is an essential component of fostering and maintaining healthy relationships.
  2. It can damage your self-image: Black-and-white thinking can affect how we feel about ourselves because it tends to overemphasize negative qualities. Additionally, it can cause you to become hypersensitive to others’ opinions, making it difficult to accept criticism without deep insecurity. 
  3. It can be detrimental to your mental health: Good Therapy explains “Cognitive distortions can take a serious toll on one’s mental health, leading to increased stress, depression, and anxiety.”
  4. It can sabotage your career: As stated in the Forbes article, How Black-And-White Thinking Can Kill Your Business, “black and white thinking in our professional lives can make us abandon projects as mere bumps in the road, due to a feeling that they are inevitably doomed to fail.”
  5. It can disrupt healthy eating habits: Several studies have found a connection between eating disorders and dichotomous thinking, as Healthline indicates that a black-and-white thought process may cause people to:
    1. Look at certain foods as good or bad
    2. Look at their own bodies as either perfect or revolting
    3. Eat in binge-purge, all-or-nothing cycles

Researchers have also found that polarized thinking can lead people to develop rigid dietary restraints, which can make it difficult to maintain a healthy relationship with food.

To cultivate a healthier and more holistic worldview, replace dichotomous thinking with dialectical thinking. Dialectical thinking is defined as “a form of analytical reasoning that pursues knowledge and truth as long as there are questions and conflicts.” In the 1800s, German philosopher Georg Hegel, developed a new form of thinking and logic that he called “speculative reason.” The concept of dialectical thinking, which is included in speculative reason, was established after grappling with the limitations of both common sense and of traditional philosophy at grasping philosophical problems and the relation between thought and reality. A dialectic is rooted in the notion that everything is made up of opposites, and a dialogue between the opposing ends ignites change. Dialectical thinking enables an individual to hold two seemingly opposite perspectives simultaneously. This, in turn, promotes balance and minimizes the tendencies to think in absolutes. Dialectical thinking fosters an inclusive worldview (both- and) instead of an exclusive (either- or) outlook on life.

Treatment In Calabasas

Calabasas is a city in California. It is a well-known suburb of Los Angeles, located west of the San Fernando Valley and north of the Santa Monica Mountains. Over the past decade, the city of Calabasas has grown in its reputation for luxury as well as for privacy which makes it a hidden gem for residential living for society’s elite, and one of the most desirable destinations in Los Angeles County. It is also home to a plethora of highly qualified mental health clinicians providing an array of therapeutic services and treatment options. 

The information above is provided for the use of informational purposes only. The above content is not to be substituted for professional advice, diagnosis, or treatment, as in no way is it intended as an attempt to practice medicine, give specific medical advice, including, without limitation, advice concerning the topic of mental health. As such, please do not use any material provided above to disregard professional advice or delay seeking treatment.

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