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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I Could Be a Rainbow

A couple of weeks ago, C wore a beautiful green jacket to our session. I thought several times that it was a lovely jacket and that it was a good color on her, but I didn't say anything.

For some reason this has been popping up in my head a lot, lately. I'm sure that it is completely beyond her awareness that her choice of color inspired me to put some color into my own wardrobe... which is usually made up mostly of black, white and gray.

And even that is interesting, isn't it? Black and white - the way my world has always been - and gray - the middle ground I have been searching for.

The first time a counselor told me I had "black and white thinking", I was well into my forties and had no idea what he meant by the term... so, just in case there is anyone out there who doesn't know what it is, I will try to explain it.

Black and white thinking turns the whole world into a coin toss. Every thing that happens is either heads or tails, every decision is either good or bad, every choice is right or wrong, every issue is either completely perfect or there is no redeeming quality in it at all. The only thing that exists are the two outer edges of the coin.

And that's how I see just about everything. Telling me to find the gray area is like asking me to stand that coin on its edge. I've flattened the world into a thin little pancake and how on earth can I get inside it, that way?

Black and white thinking is what makes me so critical of myself. If I don’t do things perfectly, then I am bad because there is no middle ground in my mind.
It is what makes it so hard to make a decision. So much is riding on every choice because one way will be absolutely right and one way completely wrong.
It’s what makes it hard for me to see the good in people who I have labeled as “bad,” or vice versa.
It’s what makes it so hard to forgive and accept others and myself.

When people talk about black and white thinking, the answer is always, "you need to find the gray area."

But what about color?

Doesn't it make more sense that if we could move beyond black (which absorbs all color) and white (which reflects all color) we would find ourselves in a rainbow?

Middle Ground

Okay, kind of a silly little thought, I guess, but in my very concrete way of thinking, finding the gray area has always seemed like a boring solution to life's problems. I mean, if there is anything more boring than black and white, it would have to be gray! So, that's how I'm going to look at it, from now on. When I can see that I am existing in a black and white world, I am going to look for the rainbow.

Oh, and about that jacket... I am making it a goal to tell people when I am thinking something nice about them. Who doesn't want to hear a compliment, after all?

So, to my friends and faithful readers, know that it gives me great pleasure to read your comments and your blogs and to know you are out there muddling through it all, with me


  1. shen, i LOVE this post! and i love the rainbow idea! :)

    as a fellow black and white thinker, and tender towards extremes, i feel like i do really get what you're saying here and really like that you described it. sometimes it helps put things back into perspective to rethink the definition.

    but yes, the black and white thinking reminds me of that post i wrote a while back about irrational thoughts. and REBT therapy.

    i think when we're tending towards extreme thinking, all good or all bad, people aren't entitled to make mistakes or be messy or imperfect, etc, that this is when we're being irrational and locked in a controlling mindset.

    because i think that's where black and white thinking come from. from needing to be in control, needing things to make sense, needing to feel secure.

    oh and also, i relate to your feelings about wanting more color in your wardrobe too. it's funny i just went out the other day and bought a sunny yellow sweater because i was cleaning out my closet the other day and noticed all my sweaters are all very drab. i used to find dark colors comforting. but i found myself wanting to wear cheery clothes.

    so thanks for bringing this all up! :)

  2. Thanks katie! Its good to know I'm not alone in the black and white world... together we will find that rainbow :)

  3. I wear colored clothing. My family buys it for me at Christmas so I am not Mr. Earth tone.

    My therapist has a cotton candy sweater that I like and tell her. She also has a jester outfit that we covet.

    I have been called a black and white thinker. I am not. For me it is about getting what is black and white and not making it gray. Sloppy thinking is what I call it. The gray is for us the important stuff. Staring with making stuff gray that is black and white make everything gray.

    Coarse other people have excuses where as I have reasons. I am not stubborn I am tenacious which is close to obnoxious.

  4. Oh what a lovely post! Black/white thinking is a major struggle for me. I love your idea of thinking in color instead of gray. I've gotten so I like gray but rainbows are better.

    I agree with Katie about control being an aspect in such thinking. I also think it's involved with emotional maturity. We are supposed to grow out of such thinking and I think sometimes trauma, abuse, or suffering can stunt that development.

    I've been getting some color clothing-wise as well. I hoard clothes somewhat so I don't add much to my own wardrobe. I've always thought that a sky blue dress would be lovely.

    Take care! *hugs* <3


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Co Creation

Co Creation
We create the life we live

Love your inner child...

...for she holds the key...

...to your personal power.
A lesson is woven into each day.
Together they make up the tapestries of our lives.