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Hi I’m Elizabeth- Black & White Thinking

Hi everyone! I’m Elizabeth- first time posting here!

Anyone have any advice on dealing with black & white thinking? Recently it’s been a huge problem for me- whether I’m thinking about my sexuality (and the need to label myself), diagnoses, food & body stuff, work, medications, etc. Any strategies that have worked for others?

10 Replies to “Hi I’m Elizabeth- Black & White Thinking”

  1. VRuiz says:

    Hey Elizabeth! I actually struggle with the exact same thing…I feel like I have to have things, people, my relationships- I want everything in my life to be clear and concrete, static and unchanging. I think it’s something that a lot of people with mental ehalth issues deal with – the need to have stable unchanging ways to identify oneself and the world around them.
    I think specifically with sexuality, it’s a fluid thing that can’t be totally categorized into one or another, since it totally depends on the person and their relationships to other people. Since I’ve never really questioned my sexuality seriously, I can’t speak from experience, but it’s my personal belief that sexuality and attraction to others depends on a lot of factors besides the other person’s gender.
    For me, black and white thinking usually involves other people, where I totally hate them or totally love them. Lately I’ve been working on recognizing the gray area, and honestly, trying to live with the good AND the bad can be pretty scary. I don’t know if I have any strategies exactly, but I can definitely relate.

  2. Sam B. says:

    Black & white thinking can be the worst. I know I fall into that trap all the time. For me it helps to remember that there isn’t always one absolute truth, that there is a whole lot of grey in the world. And obviously that is easier said than done considering how much easier it is to just have one simple answer. I also think it depends on what I’m thinking about that I feel I need that definite answer or label for. I like what Isabel said about sexuality, it totally is true. How is your black and white thinking affecting how you view your sexuality?

  3. Elizabeth says:

    Thanks to both of you for your responses. It always helps to know that others relate.

    In terms of my sexuality, I know that I’ve always felt different from others and recently have begun identifying with one particular sexual orientation and feel like I have to start labeling myself. And I have this strong need to label myself…I think a lot of it has to do with what Isabel mentioned (about the need to have the stable, unchanging identity). But since there is no “test” I can take that will tell me for sure whether I am indeed a particular sexual orientation, I am struggling with the fear of being wrong in labeling myself. So, I am trying to tell myself that I don’t need to label myself, and to try and remember that sexuality is fluid…yet at the same time, that is very challenging to do. As I’m writing this, I’m realizing that I’m afraid if I don’t label myself, I will never be able to have a relationship.

  4. VRuiz says:

    I totally get that, but can’t really say I have experienced the same thing. But you can have a relationship without identifying yourself as one particular sexual orientation…honestly, if someone doesn’t accept you as you are, WITH your questioning about your sexuality, then they don’t deserve to be in a relationship with you. I know that the Kinsey test isn’t really a reliable tool to use to determine your sexual orientation, but it’s a good indicator – in my opinion – to determine where you fall on the fluctuating scale of sexuality. If you just google “Kinsey Scale test” it should come up!

  5. Sara says:

    I think you love who you love! You know I have a few friends that just feel like they are just attracted to certain people, girl or boy, and that is that. Now, I don’t know their exact thought process but I do know it took a little while for them to accept this fact. My one friend talked to me about how her biggest struggle with her sexuality was more internal instead of external. And although it is faar from perfect, but I can really see in society that progress is being made, working toward accepting others sexuality, whatever it may be! I mean look at what happened last week, history was made when they finally declared marriage equality in all 50 states! And I have to say whatever ever it is whether sexuality, mental illness, body image, it all starts with the self acceptance; which is super hard but totally worth it.

  6. Sam B. says:

    Self acceptance is hard, like you said Sara. It is actually really really hard. It’s funny that it was brought up in a convo about black & white thinking because that’s part of what holds me back from accepting myself. I’m either skinny or fat, pretty or ugly. But I know we all have that bad hair day or whatever it might be. It is just so easy to forget. Does this make any sense to anyone?

  7. amyisamy says:

    It absolutely makes sense, Sam!! I just joined the forum and had to post on this topic because it hits home so much for me. I used to believe that it was a part of what makes me who I am, I either love something or hate it. It took me a lot of time with the right therapist to figure out that I didn’t actually want that. I doubt it will be something I ever “overcome” or don’t have to think about, but the change for me happened when I decided that it wasn’t how I want to continue experiencing my life. I felt like I missed out on a lot because I felt like I had to label myself or identify myself. Elizabeth, I can’t say I’ve experienced that struggle with my sexuality, so I don’t know how helpful my comment is for you, but I hope you come to a place where you feel ok being Elizabeth, and not Elizabeth the Lesbian or Elizabeth the Single Person or whatever.

  8. Sara says:

    It’s soo true. I feel like it’s so easy to get caught up in that extreme thinking. That acceptance that sometimes I have these thoughts and I don’t have to get stuck in them. Letting go of old ideas can be hard and sometimes takes some work to get past (which can be annoying and frustrating). But like Amy was saying, it can be such a relief to just live “my truth” whatever that might be.

  9. mega says:

    Hi Elizabeth, I’ve been following this thread without saying anything but I wanted to go back to something you said at the beginning. You mentioned that you’ve started to identify with a sexual orientation and that you feel a need to label yourself. Since people already pointed out that sexuality is a continuum, I just want to add: If you have a “strong need” to label yourself, then go for it! If there’s an orientation that feels right at this point in your life, and it helps you figure out how to approach people and relationships, then give yourself permission. 🙂 The worst that can happen is that after a while you decide that’s not who you are, and then you can re-lable yourself if it helps.

    Either way, good luck! I feel like we’re all always questioning who we are and what we’re doing. And that’s ok! And relationships will happen even so.

  10. Reese says:

    I recently helped my mom’s friend pack up her house to move to Florida. She is a bit of a hoarder so there were a lot of things she insisted on taking that I felt were just taking up space. When I questioned her on a few items, she told me my thinking is “so black and white.” In some ways, she is right. To me there are just some things that are cut and dry. I have learned to step back and understand that others may see things differently and it is not my place to judge or argue with them. There are actually a lot of gray areas to everything if you think about it enough. The important thing is that you stay to true to yourself and your values.

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