What’s black and white, and blue all over?

A deeply depressed person, of course!

“Black and white” thinking – that something (or someone) is all good or all bad – is characteristic of people in a depressed state.

When I’m depressed I try to live by the mantra “the truth lies in the grey zone”.*

So when I meet someone who gives the impression that their life is breezily under control, I resist the temptation to assume that she has it all, and is supremely, blissfully happy. I understand she, too, probably has her secret burden of stresses and sorrows.

Or when someone cuts me off in traffic, I try not to believe he’s an arrogant misogynist, nay – misanthropist, with narcissistic tendencies. He simply may not have seen me, right?

A little harder is to apply “grey zone” thinking to myself. It’s so tempting, when you’re depressed, to believe you are “all bad”: how easily I could give you an itemized list of evidence proving that I am a complete failure in absolutely every aspect of human endeavour! Personally, I find it easier to offer compassion to others than to myself, so I pretend that I am my own best friend, and imagine what she would say if I were to share that list with her.

Of course, black and white thinking isn’t merely confined to depressed people. Do you have any strategies to think beyond black and white – to enter the grey zone? And how important do you think it is to exercise that skill?

 

* Well, actually, I happen to believe philosophically that the truth usually does lie in the grey zone, so it’s more than just a self-help technique for me – it’s part of the way I think about reality – but when I know I’m depressed, I try to bring this style of thinking to the forefront of my mind

 

5 Comments

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5 responses to “What’s black and white, and blue all over?

  1. emberyn

    I tend to run off in the opposite direction and forgive everything because “there’s probably a reason”. Sounds good except that it frequently leaves me with blame that is not mine.

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  2. I haven’t thought about it that way before, but I definitely have an all-or-nothing approach to my self perceptions. I’ll try to remind myself of the grey zone. Thanks! 🙂

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  3. I really relate to your statement “A little harder is to apply “grey zone” thinking to myself”. I haven’t thought the grey zone in this context before, but it’s a great point, and a useful tool in low times.

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