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