The Trap of Black and White Thinking

This prison that is the all or nothing lifestyle. 

One of the most difficult things to do is appreciate and see all the complex shades of gray in life. Often, we only see black or white, this extreme or that extreme. Liberal vs conservative, atheist vs believer, carnivore vs vegan, man vs woman, spirituality vs nihilism, black skin color vs white skin color, Europe versus The United States, Muslim versus Jew…or as Bush once said “You are either with us or with the terrorists”. This kind of “either/or” thinking is learned from childhood and reinforced and celebrated repeatedly throughout our lives.

I saw a post on Facebook where someone was saying they didn’t like the “positivity culture” and said “I like those who are comfortable with the entire spectrum of human emotion.” Almost every response to that post had thought this person was bashing positivity and endorsing negativity. How did the commenters come to that conclusion? Did we read the same post? The entire spectrum of human emotion includes joy and happiness too.

The “positivity culture” that they were talking about was where we are judged when we are down. Where we are forced to be positive. The “positivity culture” tells us to turn a frown upside down and to be grateful we aren’t starving in a third world country. The positivity culture assumes any emotion that is not smiling is “negative” and “bad”. Yet, the original poster wasn’t bashing positivity. But that is how we read into it. It’s either all positive or all negative. It can only be one or the other, right? Our minds can only see the simplistic black and white views on any topic. Our thinking tends to be based in extremes (anger-driven) and simplistic (intellectual laziness).

While there are blacks and whites and extremes in Life, life, diet and humans are far more complicated than that. And to really appreciate Life and Humans, it is important to appreciate complexity or the entire spectrum. Every color and shade on the spectrum has its purpose in our lives and is necessary to experience and to eventually accept.

Just because we’re criticizing something liberal, doesn’t automatically mean we are conservative.
Just because we are criticizing another country’s culture, doesn’t mean we condone our own culture.
Just because we are criticizing the “positivity culture” doesn’t mean we are endorsing a “negativity culture”.

Just because I am criticizing you, doesn’t mean I accept myself.
Just because we criticize a fruitarian diet, does not mean we are “meat-eaters”.
Just because we are depressed doesn’t mean we aren’t grateful for the positive things in our lives.
Just because we are criticizing religion, doesn’t mean we are atheists.
Just because we are criticizing atheism, doesn’t mean we are religious.

Just because you love and accept someone as they are doesn’t mean you don’t have boundaries and discernment.

“This is exactly what we’re talking about here. People jump to all kinds of conclusions because there’s no rationality left in the process. When you have mind-control, that’s the first thing that goes. People can’t think. They can’t reason. They can’t say “wait a minute; let’s slow down here, just wanna get that fact straight – what did you say?” There’s none of that. That’s all out now. It’s all just mind-control. How do we elicit the stimulus response? How do we make the dog drool? When we ring the bells so that the dog thinks that the food is coming. And when you get to that level, then people just start jumping to all manner of wild conclusions, you know that… “OK so you must be an atheist because you’re saying some candidates are using God as a brand.” ….”NO, not saying that at all.” But people just make the most outrageous leaps because THINKING is out. It’s ALL mind-control.” –Jon Rappoport

As we continue on our journeys, as we learn to emote and learn who we are, the more we can appreciate that life and humans are too complex for absolute labels and knee-jerk reactionary conclusions. The more we live, the more we realize that we are complex and the more complex we see ourselves, the more we will understand the complexity in others.

It’s not about being positive or negative (simple black/white thinking), but more about being real (complex thinking).
It’s not about being liberal or conservative (simple black/white thinking), it’s about seeing that every political persuasion makes a good point. (complex thinking)

It’s not about making up your mind all the time. It’s about appreciating that space of balance and inclusivity of all possibilities. To truly be alive is to allow all, embrace all and resist and judge none.

If I am being true to myself, I notice that my natural state would be considered “bipolar” to a psychiatrist. But the truth is, for me looking only at myself, bipolar is natural. Sometimes I am up and sometimes I am down. Up things make me up, down things make me down. I’m allowing and feeling and ALIVE in this state. As much as I don’t like feeling unhappy, I wouldn’t have it any other way since my growth doesn’t come from things always going my way. I grow when I am being challenged. I grow when I am feeling uncomfortable. And sure it is normal to feel up in one moment and down in another. Why not? There’s a reason for it. Maybe someone had a flashback? Maybe they remembered something traumatic? Maybe they got triggered by the person they are talking too. Life is up, down, and all the grays in between. Because there is duality on Earth, there is also duality inside all of us. It’s not one or the other all the time. Quite often, it’s about all the shades of white, black and gray or…. the entire spectrum! We are here to be dipped in every color of paint.

This Extreme versus that Extreme reinforces separation. However, sometimes we need to hop from one extreme to the next before we can appreciate everything is connected, here for a reason and in balance.

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