Ever notice how we all almost always think in black and white, or either/or? This is known as all-or-nothing thinking which helps to foster disordered eating behaviors and it becomes a significant barrier in recovery.
“I’m either going to eat none of this pizza or all of it.”
“I’m going to go hard at the gym or not go at all and just sit and watch TV instead.”
“I’m going to be a workaholic or why bother working at all?”
“I need to get 100 or I might as well fail."
Do any of these sound familiar to you? If so, you aren’t alone. In fact, I would argue that most of our culture engage in this type of thinking. It’s either/or, black or white, all or nothing. This type of thinking can and often is destructive in recovery. Our black and white thinking helps to fuel disordered behaviors as well as our negative emotions surrounding our behaviors. Let’s use the pizza example given earlier, in a disordered, black and white mindset, you may say you can’t and won’t have any pizza. Then you have a slice, and since in your mind, you’ve already failed, you “might as well” finish the entire pie. This only allows room for our disorder to fester.
What most people don’t think about too often is that there’s actually a lot of colors in between the black and white and plenty of possibilities between the all and the nothing. How might this look in the pizza example? Well it may look something like this “I love pizza! It wouldn’t feel good to deprive myself of this, I can have some.” Allowing yourself to enjoy the pizza is between black and white, you don’t have to resist it entirely and you don’t have to eat the entire pizza. And if you find that the temptation is too much and you end up eating more than you wanted to, that doesn’t mean that you “might as well” finish the entire thing. You may end up having 1 slice, maybe 2, maybe 3. On your way to thinking you “might as well” finish the entire thing, you may stop mid-way through the third slice. That’s between the all and nothing. You may have wished you acted differently, but you can recognize the success in just being able to act between the black and white. That is progress and working on that skill will be helpful for your recovery.
The first step is noticing your black and white thinking. Take some time to think about where this thought process takes place in your life. Look out for the “might as well” language which can be a clue that this type of thinking is taking place. Once you do that, brainstorm, what are possibilities between the extremes of black and white? There’s a whole realm of possibilities to explore, allow yourself the freedom to do so.
I hope you found this post helpful! Please share with anyone who may be struggling with their readiness to begin their treatment journey. If you have any questions, concerns or requests for future posts, feel free to leave a comment or message me privately.
I wish you to see the colors between black and white on the way to finding your State of Balance!
You can also check out my YouTube channel for more inspiration!
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