By Courtney Levy Daniels, LMHC
Black and white thinking leads you to believe that something is either ALL good or ALL bad, ALL right or ALL wrong. Through the lens of an eating disorder, it can manifest like this: “I had a bite of cake, so my diet is ruined. I may as well eat the whole cake and be ‘good’ tomorrow.” Or how about, “I didn’t follow my meal plan completely, so I am a failure and I will never recover.” Sound familiar?
The thing is, this type of thinking can be functional. I mean, why would we think this way if it wasn’t? It can give us a feeling of control by placing things neatly into categories, and serve as a way to help us make sense of the world.
However, the downside is that when we limit our thinking to dichotomies, it keeps us from seeing nuances. It keeps us from experiencing the full spectrum of what life has to offer.
For example, if we think of the weather as merely “hot” and “cold,” we’re not accounting for those perfect beach days - warm, sunny, and just the right amount of cloud cover to offer a few seconds of shade here and there.
And let’s not forget those crisp fall days - the ones where the air is cool enough for a cozy beanie and a pumpkin spice latte, but not chilly enough to warrant gloves. If you ask me, it’s those days in between “hot” and “cold” that are the best ones! So while it may make you feel safe to think in “all-or-nothing” terms, you’re also narrowing your view and limiting your experiences.
So how do we expand our black and white thinking to include color?
1. Increase awareness:
2. Actively challenge the thoughts:
Instead of: “I didn’t follow my meal plan completely, so I am a failure and I will never recover”
Try: “I didn’t make as many recovery-oriented choices as I would have liked to. Tomorrow is a new opportunity to make decisions that are in line with my values”
3. Practice self-compassion:
Reminder: This is not EASY! It takes practice, practice, practice. But with time, it will come more naturally and help you live a much more vibrant life.
Are you ready to find freedom?
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The Eating Disorder Center is a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center founded by Jennifer Rollin. We specialize in helping teens and adults struggling with anorexia, binge eating disorder, bulimia, OSFED, and body image issues. We provide eating disorder therapy in Rockville, MD, easily accessible to individuals in Potomac, North Potomac, Bethesda, Olney, Silver Spring, Germantown, and Washington D.C. We also offer eating disorder therapy virtually throughout California and New York (NYC) serving those in cities including Palo Alto, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Woodland Hills, San Jose, and Beverly Hills. We provide eating disorder recovery coaching via Zoom to people worldwide. Connect with us through our website at www.theeatingdisordercenter.com
The Eating Disorder Center
We are a premier outpatient eating disorder therapy center in Rockville, Maryland.