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Black & White Thinking Explained

Everyone has an ability to “mentalize”, meaning the ability to understand the mental state, of oneself or others, that underlies overt behaviors.

When we lose our shit on someone, we lose our metalizing ability, and we start to operate in black-and-white thinking. It’s completely normal, but it greatly impairs your ability to reason and problem-solve. You start thinking that your opinion and subjective experience is a correct interpretation of reality, rather than appreciating that maybe you don’t have all the details.

It happens when you become very emotionally charged or “triggered”. You confuse how you feel for being the truth, leading to misunderstandings and a perpetuation of problems.

So, the next time you’re angry or upset, take some time to remove yourself to the situation and regain your ability to mentalize. Ask yourself two questions:

  1. Am I opperating from an emotion even though I feel in control?

  2. Am I engaging in black-and-white absolutist thinking?

You can mentalize when you’re upset, you just need to work for it as it doesn’t come naturally for most of us.

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