Most people think in greyscale.
If I don’t get this paper in on time I’ll get in trouble.
I could probably do a couple hours of studying tomorrow, then I’ll go out.
I’ve made a mess, that’s annoying, I’ll have to clean that up now.
Not so for me. I think in what’s called ‘Black and White’, essentially ‘All or Nothing’ and find these middle grounds hard to find. For example:
If I don’t get this paper on time I’ll fail my course or get kicked off it.
I can’t do any studying tomorrow, I have to go out in the evening.
I’ve made a mess! That’s my day ruined, this always happens to me.
It’s easy to spot when you’re looking at them side-by-side, and you might think these thinking patterns are extreme; but for people with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) this is a very real experience. When we have these thoughts we think they’re true and they can influence our behaviour and emotions. This pushes us into a vicious cycle which can escalate into uncomfortable and even dangerous situations.
You may think that because I’ve written this about my thought patterns, they don’t bother me any more… I wish this was true! I fight with these thoughts every day, I’ve just learnt how to win!
Mostly I do win. I take every thought captive:
I’ve made a mess, my day’s ruined. This always happens to me!
I’ve made a mess which is annoying, but is my day really ruined? Does this really always happen? What’s happened today that’s been good? Once I clear this up I can continue my day and it could be good again!
This is the process that I follow with every thought. It’s a conscious decision and it takes effort, so if you know someone who’s going through it please be patient with them! Their natural reaction may take place before they get chance to even it out, I know it does with me. If you’re struggling with this yourself my advice is the same: be patient! You will get there, just keep trying.
There’s some interesting information on this site about black and white thinking.