Beyond Black and White Thinking

Beyond Black and White Thinking


Black and white thinking is one of the biggest barriers to overcoming emotional eating and weight loss. Black and white thinking (all or nothing) is a distorted, polarized, split way of thinking that prevents people from viewing reality as it really is. Nothing or no one is all good or all bad, weak or strong. People who engage in black and white thinking don’t see the gray; the in between place where reality resides. Reality comes in fifty shades of gray; it’s full of what ifs, contradictions, ambiguities, or maybes.

People aren’t all good or bad; everyone is a mixed bag of weaknesses and strengths. No situation is all good or all bad. Unfortunately, because black and white thinkers think in extremes, their moods can be extreme as well. One minute they’re flying high on elation over an event, situation, diet, or person they deem “perfect” or “great” only to hit the depths of despair when they make a mistake or find a flaw in the same thing.  Then it’s “ruined,” “bad,” or “not good enough.”

If you’re a black and white thinker, your life is probably run by a lot of shoulds, musts, and oughts. It’s based on rules made up by your mind, instead of reality. Black and white thinking is perfectionistic thinking. Someone who engages in black and white thinking usually only sees two options; and often, neither option is appealing, so they do nothing. “If I can’t follow my food plan to the letter, the day is ruined and I might as well not do it all.” This type of thinking keeps you stuck because the gray zone of other possibilities is missing.

Reality is full of possibilities and there are always more options and choices than you’re aware of. Black and white thinking has a very narrow way of looking at things; it’s often focused on faults, problems, and is very judgmental because things are either “right” or “wrong.” An open mind is flexible. It’s always looking for new solutions and new ways of looking at things.

If you engage in black and white thinking, ask yourself, “What other options/ways are there of looking at this?”

If you can’t see other options, ask someone else for their perspective or ask yourself, “How would so and so view this situation? What would they do?”


Black and white thinking


People who engage in black and white thinking are drawn to diets because they like things to be spelled out in a simple way they can follow. There’s no ambiguity. It’s black and white – follow this diet to the letter. Unfortunately, life is not black and white. As soon as they’re thrown off course, which is the reality of life, they don’t know what to do except go to the other extreme and overeat. They label themselves to be “bad” for getting off track, the day to be “blown,” and the resultant guilt sends them into a downward spiral leading everything to be labeled as “ruined” and labeling themselves as “losers.”

It’s not the actual event that’s so devastating; it’s all that negative labeling that destroys one’s self-esteem and mood. Talk about a motivation killer!

If you recognize yourself in the above description, you need to ditch the “If I can’t follow it perfectly, it’s ruined, and therefore I’ll eat all I want” mentality.

The key is to do what you can each day. Learn to see that all your efforts are worthwhile and they add up over time. Every good thing you do for yourself is practice and practice makes perfect (almost).

See every positive behavior as a deposit in a savings account that will eventually yield the long term results you’re looking for (long term behavior change). If you’re only focused on pounds lost, you’re missing the boat. The weight you’ll eventually lose and maintain is the result of your willingness to practice new healthy behaviors. No practice is ever wasted; no day is ever ruined, unless you label it so.


 Reality is Beyond Black and White Thinking


Real life is beyond labels, beyond black and white.

You must embrace the many shades of gray to find the peace, and happiness, and health you deserve.

Gray is good.

Gray is beautiful.

Gray is what life is.


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7 Steps Perfectionists Need to Master to Lose Weight 

How Perfectionism Sabotages Weight Loss


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