Black and White Thinking

Black and white thinking is an unhelpful thought (also known as a cognitive distortion) that involves seeing things in absolutes, with no grey area in between. This type of thinking can lead to a rigid, inflexible mindset and can make it difficult for individuals to see the nuances and complexities of situations.


For example, a person who engages in black and white thinking may believe that if they don’t get an A on a test, they have failed. They may also believe that if they make one mistake, they are a failure overall. This type of thinking can lead to feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, and depression.

Black and white thinking can also manifest in negative ways in our relationships. For example, a person may believe that if their partner makes one mistake, the relationship is over. Or, they may see their friends as either good or bad, with no room for complexity or nuance in their relationships.

This type of thinking can be particularly harmful because it doesn’t allow for the possibility of growth and change. When we see things in black and white, we are less likely to see the potential for improvement and progress.

It can be helpful to remind ourselves that the world is not always black and white, but full of shades of grey. We can try to find the balance and try to see different perspectives and not to jump to conclusions too quickly. It is important to be open-minded and to be willing to see things from different perspectives.

CBT is commonly employed by therapists to address black and white thinking. The therapist will assist the client to become aware of when they are using black and white thinking, and to develop new thought patterns that are more flexible. With the help of therapy, mindfulness and self-reflection, it is possible to overcome black and white thinking and develop a more balanced and nuanced perspective on life.


If you are interested in learning more about Black and White Thinking, there are many resources available including books, online courses, and mental health professionals trained in Black and White Thinking. It is important to do your research and find a reputable source of information.

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