“The best things are placed between extremes.” – Aristotle
If you’re thinking in extremes (like something is all good or all bad) then you’re having black & white thinking.
This way of thinking isn’t serving you.
Black and white thinking likely harms your relationships, your career growth, your mental health including perception of yourself, overall enjoyment of life, and anxiety & depression levels, your eating habits, your spending habits and soooo much more.
The hardest part of black and white thinking is learning how to spot it.
The media, the US government, religion, movies and TV shows all practice black and white thinking so much so that most of us see it as normal.
It seems justified to do things like label people/behaviors as all good or all bad or to experience many high highs and low lows in life and think that’s just how life is lived because we see it so much with others on screen.
This way of thinking isn’t helpful though. In fact, it’s likely what’s keeping you from growing in your life the most.
It can be changed though.
Today I’m going to walk you through how to spot black and white thinking and how to start changing it.
Listen via the link at the top of this page.
RESOURCES MENTIONED IN THIS EPISODE:
Black and White Thinking in Relationships
This is the Become an Unstoppable Woman podcast with Lindsay Preston Episode 74, Black
and White thinking.
Welcome to the Become an Unstoppable Woman podcast, the show for goal-getting, fearfacing women for kicking ass by creating change. I’m your host, Lindsay Preston. I’m a wife,
mom of two, and a multi-certified life coach to women all over the world. I’ve lived
through enough in life to know that easier doesn’t always equate to better. We can’t fear
the fire, we must learn to become it. On this show, I’ll teach you how to do just that. Join
me as I challenge you to become even more of the strong, resilient, and powerful woman
you were meant to be. Let’s do this.
Hi there, Ms. Unstoppable. Thanks for tuning in to this week’s episode. We’re going to talk
about black and white thinking. I’m going to warn you now. It may stir up some things
inside of you, I can already see them. I get some heated emails off this one because I’m
going to challenge you to think in a whole new way. A part of your brain is going to want
to really, really hold on to black and white thinking, but I want you to see how it may not
be serving you. Okay? Pinky promise me you’re going to open your eyes and your mind
today, even if it feels uncomfortable because that’s what coaching is. It’s stretching you,
it’s making you grow.
As I say many times in my trainings and in my coaching, take what you love and leave the
rest. Many times we’re triggered by something. Triggered means you have a “negative
emotion for more than seven seconds”, then that means they’re maybe some deeper work
there and they’re maybe some truth to what uprise and that triggered you. Okay? I’m going
to show you why today even more. What is black and white thinking first off? It’s thinking
in absolutes like good or bad. Are you in, are you out? This is amazing, this is awful. This is
success and this is failure.
You’re just thinking in these two ends of the spectrum. Now, the media have tendencies to
have black and white thinking with their reporting all the time. If you google, “The media
is narcissistic”, you’ll find so many articles about how in essence the media feeds us this
negativity and these things on extremes because they know it will trigger our brain. We
talk about all the time on the show, our brain is here just to keep us safe and if we’re
seeing all these threats around us, we want to go and we want to watch the news to learn
about those facts so that we can stay safe.
Many of us are onto this game but still our primitive brain gets hooked there. I know I have
to pull myself back many times when I watch the news and think, “All right, brain, you’re
really getting anxious here. Let’s reel it back in.” The media, as I said, is built for this. In
essence, they’re just trying to do their job, they’re trying to sell advertising, they’re trying
to get viewers. If they just stayed in fluffy stuff all the time, in things that were more
neutral in their stories, then less people would tune in.
Now, I’m just going to give a specific example of how I saw this recently. I listened to a
podcast called Guru and I believe there’s also a Netflix special on the same topic called
Enlighten Us. It’s about a self-help guru, whatever, personal development, personal
whatever you want to call it named James Arthur Ray. James was– Gosh, in the early 2000,
he was in the movie The Secret, you may remember those days. He was just in this new age
kind of personal development realm. We had the old-school people, the Wayne Dyers and
then we brought them like the Tony Robbins of the world. Then James is in this next group
of people. This is right before we had social media and things of that sort.
James got a lot of publicity obviously from The Secret. Then he also would go into these
live events from what I understand, where he would then get clients from that where he’s
like, “No. I do things like a podcast.” He posts on social media and truly, I get a lot of
clients just from referrals. Initially, somebody found me typically from something online.
He didn’t have that, so he would go to these live events, get clients and he would then get
them in this funnel of you go to these events, you pay a little bit of money. Then you go to
this next event, you pay more money, you go up this funnel until you get to this event
called Spiritual Warrior.
In the Spiritual Warrior event, he would do more extreme things. Each event got more and
more extreme. At the Spiritual Warrior event, he would do this thing– Gosh, I don’t even
remember what they called it and it wasn’t even the right name for it. In essence, this
sauna of things. He just pushed these people to an extreme, he didn’t set it up right, so
three people ended up dying because he’d pushed their bodies to the extreme. He was just
doing some really weird and wacky stuff, to be honest with you of like, “Don’t trust
yourself, trust me,” and all that stuff.
When I’m listening to all this, I’m listening from an ear of– Some of his stuff was actually
really good, talking about the way that bring works, some personal development, and
manifesting, and all that stuff. It’s very similar to some of the stuff I teach my clients here
on the podcast, I just put a different spin on it. What happened is James just got his ego go
way out of control. He sounds like he got a little greedy in there. He just kept pushing
more and more extremes to get people to pay more and to do all that stuff.
In the podcast and on the Netflix show, they really spun him as, “He’s this bad guy. He’s
this con artist. He was borderline leading a cult.” The reality is did James do some bad
things? Absolutely, but he wasn’t all bad. I can just hear an episode after episode of this
Guru podcast. They were trying to spin every single thing that he did and make it seem like
he was this bad guy. That’s very typical on the media. They find somebody as like, “This
person is a murderer. This person is this,” and they just start spinning things.
This is why a lot of celebrities, they hate the media. They’re like, “This is so annoying in
regards to the way that I’m sun–” Then they have to go through this whole PR campaign
to be seen as someone good again. Then all of a sudden, people love them again. It’s just
this whole love-hate relationship. Right? Again, we see it a lot in the media, we see it a lot
in the US here with politics, especially right now, everybody is very divisive, it’s very
polarized. Republicans a lot of times are seen as racist, and greedy and antichrist-like.
Democrats are seen as baby killers and not good with money and so many other things.
We love to just label on both ends of the spectrum. Then we also see this in TV shows and
in movies with relationships. “I love you. I hate you. You’re amazing. You’re awful. Come
near me. Go away. He loves me. He loves me not.” We just see all these ups and downs and
that’s what keeps us tuning in. We don’t want to just see two people who are in a boring
we in love, we want to see the passion, and the romance, and the breakups, and the pain.
That makes for great entertainment. That’s why reality TV a lot of times is a little bit
scripted because reality in general, it’s just a little bit neutral.
We also see this a lot with religion, “You’re a sinner. You’re a saint. You’re going to heaven.
You’re going to hell. That’s a good behavior. That’s bad behavior. Are you with us? Are you
against us? That’s the voice of God or the devil?” Can you see the two here? Even I was
thinking about the angel and the devil on your shoulders. It’s like, “Is it good? Is it bad?”
Then many of us have this black and white thinking all the time and because we’re
surrounded with it, with things like the media like I said, in politics, what we consume in
religion, we’re just like, “Oh, this is just the way you think. This is just the way it should
Black and white thinking is very toxic in your life. I’m spotting black and white thinking in
myself and with my clients all the time. In fact, I didn’t really know what black and white
thinking was until about a year ago when I was doing relationship coaching and my coach
in essence, gave me this book called How We Love, how do we take the test? She said,
“Well, you have this vacillator voice.” The vacillator’s all about black and white thinking.
If you are client of mine, you’re like, “Okay, got it, Lindsay, I know this. We’ve already talked
about this.” If you don’t know what a vacillator is yet, I encourage you to listen to my
podcast called Your Inner Mean Girls. Then when I just did overcoming your inner mean
girls, because those two are going to help supplement this one. Again, it’s really important
you understand what that vacillator is because she’s the one that’s generating this black
and white thinking.
Just know this is not healthy behavior. It is very normalized, but it doesn’t mean that it’s
serving you in any way. We have black and white thinking. It’s likely impacting your
relationships, it’s likely impacting your career, the way even you eat, the way you think
about yourself. It’s everywhere. I say often the way we do one thing is the way we do many
things. Even if you have a pattern of quitting a lot or you just find yourself on this roller
coaster of emotions, of these ups and these downs, it’s likely you have black and white
Like I said, I’m catching it all the time, I’m catching with clients. Many times, we don’t even
realize we’re doing it. I’ll give you an example, I call it the client reselling. This client came
to me and she said, “Lindsay, I just don’t feel that confident at work. Here are some of my
thoughts when I’m around a certain person who triggers me is that I’m not as good as her.
I’m not enough and all this stuff.” I said, “Great. Okay, you’ve got the awareness. Now, how
do you want to intentionally think about it?”
Then she immediately went to, “I’m amazing, I’m awesome, I’m wonderful.” I said, “Okay,
granted, you can definitely think those things but why do we need to go so extreme? It
seems very black and white and we had been talking about black and white thinking.”
Then I said, “What if we just go more neutral?” She’s like, “Oh, my gosh, I didn’t even think
about that.” I would have maybe not caught that in myself too. It’s very subtle sometimes
when you’re an outsider looking at it, like I am, as a coach, you can spot it pretty easily.
Now, in my own life, I have black and white thinking often too, especially on my marriage.
If my husband frustrates me, say for a couple of days or longer, I will start to have the
thoughts, “Oh, why did I get married? I want out of this.” It’s not black and white of like,
“I’m in. I’m out. This is good. This is bad.” I have to stop myself in those moments of, “Okay,
I want out of the marriage. Why did I do this?” I started to ask myself the questions I’m
going to share with you in a bit to get out of that extreme black and white thinking,
because going from, “My marriage is awesome,” to, “My marriage is ugh, awful,” has made
an impact on my marriage.
I realized that since doing marriage coaching, because I just thought, well, this is just
again, normal, because that’s what I saw around me. That’s what I saw with my parents
even. Many times, we inherit black and white thinking. Most of us grow up in an
environment where we see this, not just with the media, but with our parents. It’s
especially there when a parent has what’s considered a personality disorder, like
borderline or narcissism.
In my home growing up, it was a lot. It was everywhere. These were the things I heard on
the daily. Some of those may be triggering to some of you, just right out the gate. I heard a
lot that Republicans are awful people and Democrats are amazing. Every single thing that
went bad, my parents would blame Republicans. I remember my mom driving and maybe
she got cut off or she didn’t like something another driver did, and if they were in what
appeared like a car a Republican would drive like an SUV or a van, men were really big in
the ’90s, then she would be like, “Oh, god damn, Republicans.” That was really seeped into
The other thing I got a lot as a kid is if I did not get 100, then I was told that I had failed. It
was just seen as well, until you get 100, 100 is what we strive for here, right? It’s a black
and white of all or nothing. If somebody made a mistake, it was very quickly labeled as,
“That person is bad. That’s a bad thing,” versus like, “Oh, that person just made a poor
choice kind of thing.” This black and white thinking also stems from people who are
naturally really passionate people, because they’re deep feelers, they’re empathetic and so
they have these high highs, they’re able to experience things like high extremes of joy and
passion and creativity and love. Then they also experience really low lows, a lot of
sadness, and anger, and shame. That is a beautiful thing.
I’m in that boat with you if you’re in there too. I love that about me. At the same time, it is
very exhausting as well. I’ve gotten to a point where these two extremes of awesome and
awful and good and bad has taken a lot out of my nervous system. I’ve seen how these
patterns, yes, they’ve gotten me to the point where I am today. That’s not an all bad place
but where I’m growing to next, this stuff doesn’t serve me anymore. All right?
Start to think about that, too, as I’m talking today as like is this pattern still serving me,
because I just got to a point where I didn’t need as much of that drive and that passion and
these high-level feelings or these low-level feelings to get me beyond where I am today.
Now I need to just stabilize and I need to, in essence, build upon what I have versus this
drive of go, go, go, go, go, go, go, go and cut out anybody along the way who my brain has
labeled as “bad” or not serving me or whatever. Instead, really think, “Okay, I really want to
deepen my marriage,” and figure out how to have a very successful long-term marriage
and relationship, which I haven’t seen, I haven’t done. I don’t have a lot of long-term
relationships under my belt because of this black and white thinking and things with my
business and things of that sort.
Where we’re wanting to get initially, well, eventually, I should say is for you to be in this
neutral ground. This does not mean you’re numb, it means you’re neutral. I’m going to talk
a whole another podcast on neutral versus numb. Neutral is really just saying, “I’m here.
I’m present. I’m open to whatever life gives me, and whatever life gives me, I know that it’s
going to be 50/50 no matter what, even if it’s something amazing. Say I win a trip of a
lifetime and I get to travel the world on this trip. Yes, you’re going to experience joy, and
excitement, and love, and all those things with it, but there’s probably also going to be
some feelings that don’t feel so great with it and some things that happen along the trip
that maybe isn’t that awesome.
Same with something you’re going through that’s really awful. Yes, it may seem really
awful at the time, but there’s also some amazing blessings then. Really, everything in life
that we go through can be looked at as very neutral. It’s our thoughts about that that
cause it to not be neutral. This is why I love the tool, the self-coaching model so much. I
know I’ve been talking about it so much on the show. If you just haven’t listened to any of
those episodes, I really encourage you do. I think the best one where I described the model
is in the solve any problem episode. Go listen to that one.
In essence, the model is saying, “Let’s just look at the circumstance of what’s going on and
whatever that is, we want to make it as neutral as possible.” For a lot of people with
politics, they think Republicans are bad, like my parents would. Well, that’s really a
thought. Republicans, one of the things I didn’t like about Republicans were some of their
financial beliefs. Really, the circumstances, Republicans in general believe X, Y, Z, believe
in low taxes, believe in not taxing the rich as much or whatever it is.
You want to make that as neutral as possible, because really, again, everything that
happens in our life is pretty neutral. It’s our thoughts about it that determine our feelings
about it. When clients come to me and there are all these ups and downs, and I say, “Okay,
we’re going to get to this neutral place,” they look at me funny and think, “Is that really
where I want to go?” Me having grown here, especially this past year is I’ve been super
intentional about it. I’m like, “Trust me, honey, it is awesome here.” I still have passion and
I still have my beliefs but being in this neutral place is wonderful.
You’re going to build so much momentum from this place, so much stability from this
place, and you’re still going to be you, but without these extremes, and a lot of drama that
comes with those extremes. As I said, black and white thinking harms your relationships, it
harms your career, it harms the way you think about yourself. It even harms possibly some
of the habits you’re doing in your life, especially with eating and shopping and things of
Let’s get really clear on the steps you need to take when you are experiencing black and
white thinking. Okay, are you ready? We’re going to go through four steps. The first one is
you have to just first be aware of it. If you’re thinking of something in extremes, you’re
using the words, always, never, impossible, perfect, awful, amazing, good, or bad. Those are
just some examples. That is a flag. “I may be having some black and white thinking.” Give
you some examples of how this can look. “I am always doing X, Y, Z.” I hear my husband
say this one on repeat pretty regularly. “I am always the one cleaning up around here.”
One that I told him recently in a fight and I’ve shared this on the podcast, but you never
plan dates anymore. Some people when they’re really going at it in a relationship, they’ll
think it’s impossible that this relationship could work. A lot of times when clients start
working with me, they’ll start putting me on this pedestal and they’ll start saying, “Well,
Lindsay, you’re so perfect,” or, “You’re so amazing, or awesome, or whatever.” I start to
realize, okay, this person has black and white thinking because they’re starting to idealize
What happens when people do that is the only place I can go is down. I’ll start talking
them out of it if we haven’t yet talked about black and white thinking, and I’ll be like, “No,
you’re the one that did da, da, da. You’re the one–” because they think that I’m, in essence,
the one that saved them. They don’t think in that way, but I’m the one who’s so amazing
giving them results. It’s like, “No, it’s mostly you. I’m here to help you along the way.”
Really, I’m doing that because again, I don’t want them to put me on this pedestal and
start to think that I’m all good because what happens then is if one thing happens where
I’m not good in their brain anymore, they can very quickly label me as bad. Then all of a
sudden, we have a day where we do some coaching that gets uncomfortable or whatever
and they’re like, “I want to quit. I’m out of here.”
I have a client right now like this. We’ve actually coached for a while together. The
coaching itself that I had with her one-on-one was a lot of hand-holding very soft because
that’s what she needed at the time. Now, she’s in a group program. I’ve told them even just
going into the group is it’s a different style of coaching. It’s more generalized, it’s not
specific for whatever that person needs. It’s more of a kick in the butt. She’s come at me
many times of like, “I really want to quit this. I really want to quit this because it’s making
me feel uncomfortable.”
She’s come at it too of like, “I’m building my awareness,” not like, “I’m definitely going to
quit.” Right? Which has been great but she’s starting to realize on a deeper level this black
and white thinking because for a while, she had put me on this pedestal. The other thing is
when somebody is saying, “My body is awful,” or something else is awful, or your body is
amazing, or this is amazing. A lot of people do this with goals. Like, once I make a million
dollars, then it’s going to be amazing.
I catch this actually with my husband a lot too because I’ve said many times on the
podcast, he’s a money guy. A lot of times when he’s thinking about his money goals, and
like, “Oh, we have this in the bank,” it’s like, “Oh, that’s like it.” When I get to this
destination, it’s going to be amazing there. I’m like, “No, we’re going to get to that
destination, it’s going to be the same life, we’re just going to have more money in the
I love what Brooke Castillo from Life Coach School says about this is like no matter where
you are, with any goal or any place in life, life is always 50/50. I’m a big believer in 80/20. I
like to think life can be 80% awesome, or good, or bad or I don’t know how we want to
view it, we don’t want to go black and white but it’s in those yummy emotions. 20% up to
50% of the time, it’s in that not so yummy emotions. That’s just the way the human journey
is meant. It’s just like, we don’t know dark without light, we don’t know cold without hot.
Sometimes we don’t know these “negative emotions” without these “positive ones” and
Taking that off is realizing no matter what destination you get to in life, or what you gain
or achieve or whatever, it’s so just going to be you getting there, but likely with more
money or a new job or whatever. Now, of course, when you’re changing your mindset, and
you’re growing, and things of that sort, yes, just do things shift and all that, but there’s still
always going to be this element of things that are uncomfortable when you get there. For
a lot of people, sometimes this can be a huge letdown and they’ll go into this black and
white thinking spiral of, “I thought this job was going to be so amazing. It’s not this huge,
high standard of amazing, but I thought, and so it just must be awful.”
Then all of a sudden, then they’re quitting their job. This is happening a lot with people
with black and white thinking. I did this in my early 20s. I was like, “Oh, I’m just going to
get a call. I just got to get out of here.” I labeled it as awful because there was just some
things that happened. I was like, “Oh, I’m done with college. Let me get out of here.” Then
it was like, “Okay, well, I’m going to do this thing. Then that was awesome and awful.
Then the next thing was awesome and awful. Anytime there was any awful on there, my
brain just quickly wanted to label it as awful because I had just built up such this high
expectation of awesome that when anything “went bad”, it was like, “This is awful, I’m out
of here.” This happens a lot, a lot of quitting, a lot of moving around, just a lot of this
frantic action that we’ve talked about on the podcast. If you haven’t listened to that
episode, I know I’m voicing so many other episodes, but that’s a great one, Massive versus
We want to get you again to this place where you’re just very calm, very neutral. Now, even
I have clients sometimes come to me and say, “Lindsay, I just feel so at peace and just so
neutral all the time.” I’m like, “Exactly. This is what we’ve worked towards. Isn’t that
awesome?” It’s just so weird. I’m like, “I know, right?” As coaches, we’re taught this in a lot
of ways. We’re taught if we come in with anything more than neutrality when somebody
brings us something and it’s not “clean coaching” and we have attached to some outcome
for that client and that is a big find that we need to do either some self-coaching on
ourselves or get coached by another coach.
I actually caught this in myself recently, one of my clients said she got back with an ex
that we had worked on for many months for her to leave. It came out of left field for me.
When I got her email, I shouldn’t have been checking my email to begin with at this time
because I was making dinner. I got this email. I was like, “Oh, fuck,” was what I was
thinking and I found myself just getting frustrated and all that. I’m like, “Whoa, wait a
second, Lindsay, you have obviously attached to this. This is not clean coaching, you need
to be just always be neutral with things, because that’s what clients are coming to us for, is
neutrality and allowing us to show them their brains and their feelings.” That’s not about
me at all, right?
I’ve had to really learn on a deeper level how to practice this neutrality and I’ve done it
pretty well in my coaching. I’m having to do it even more in my personal life, as I’ve said.
Again, the first thing is the catch, if we’re thinking of something in extremes, and it’s so
important, you become aware of that because if you’re not aware of it, you can’t go and do
the next steps. It’s so important that you become aware of your thinking in extremes.
As I said, it’s really tricky. This is one of the reasons why I have a coach. This is why people
hire me as their coach is to show them their brain in a way that they may not be seeing
because they’re so close to their own brain. If you spot it and you’ve got the awareness,
awesome. Now, if you find yourself acting in extremes, because that may come first before
the thoughts of it, here are some behaviors to look out for. If you’re just having really big
ups and downs with emotions like, “I love you. I hate you. I’m in. I’m out,” that can be a
sign you’re in this black and white thinking.
If you’re feeling like you’re wanting to push people away, if you’re wanting to quit things,
especially abruptly quit things, that’s a sign. If you’re finding that others just have this fall
from grace thing, again, I’ve tended to do this with people that I’ve admired. It’s like this
person is so awesome and so awesome and then all of a sudden, I’ll learn something about
them that’s maybe not so awesome and I’ll think, “Oh, man.” I’ll start to have all these
seeds of doubt about them. I’ll have to catch myself and say, “Wait a second, Lindsay. This
person, here’s all the awesome things about them or wonderful, whatever term we want to
use. Yet, here are some things that’s not so great and that’s just how it is.”
People are not one or the other. They’re both. Every single person, every single situation,
as I keep saying has good and bad in it. It’s not one or the other. We’re all mixed in with
both of these things. It really comes to my brain to do that. Going back to spotting patterns
for you is again, that fall from grace, if you just feel a lot of disappointment, a lot of
disappointment in something. Remember, when we talked about that dealing with
disappointment episode, I talked about that when we feel disappointment, that’s really a
cover for us feeling sad, but because sad feels a lot of times it’s weak, will turn to anger.
We’ll just come out firing. It’s like, “I don’t want to do this. I’m out of here. Da, da, da, da,
da,” all that stuff.
The other thing is if you’re eating in a way where you’re bingeing especially if you’re
bingeing and purging, which again, this is beyond this podcast, that’s definitely you need
to go seek help for that. That’s an eating disorder at that point, but if you had a pattern of
that in the past or you’re just doing the bingeing part, that’s a sign of black and white
thinking. What else do I have on here? Oh, if you expect someone needs to be on the exact
same page as you about something or many things, then that’s another sign. It’s like we all
have to think alike in order for us to be all in, that can be black and white thinking. If you
view something as responsible or not responsible. Again, it goes to that good or bad.
Right now, my husband and I are watching a trashy show to be honest, it’s called Filthy
Rich and it’s with Kim Cattrall in it. It’s just in the first few episodes but it’s about in
essence, this family who’s very highly religious and they’ve built this huge brand based on
their religion and being these public figures but behind the scenes, they do all these
corrupt things. It makes me think about again, this black and white thinking of here’s my
good self and then behind closed doors is my bad self. Again, we see this unfortunately so
often in religion of people like, here’s my good things and all the da, da, da, da, da and
then they just go and they turn almost to these extremes versus just being this neutrality
of, “Yes, I’m kind of good and I’m kind of bad,” versus putting on this show and hiding
these deep dark demons inside of them.
Again, those can be some behaviors of black and white thinking but release, catch yourself
if you’re thinking in extremes. If you’ve caught yourself in that behavior and that thinking,
then you need to ask yourself how is what you just thought or said not true. I’m reading a
book right now. It’s an oldie and it’s by Byron Katie and it’s called Loving What Is, and I’ve
had this book for many years and for whatever reason, every time I pick it up, I just can’t
get through it. I get really tired when I get through it and I know why, because it’s a big
stretch for me. It’s really teaching me to love everything in front of me. It’s taking an
essence this next level of this black and white thinking and bringing neutrality with it.
The really first question that Katie always ask people is they’ll come to her and say, “My
husband’s a cheater. He does not love me,” or something, whatever it is. She’ll say, “Well,
how is that not true?” Or she’ll say, “Is it true?” For you wanting to spin this question is say
if you come and you say, “My body is awful,” I want you to then ask yourself again, how is
that not true? Sometimes, I mentioned with my marriage, I’ll be like, “Oh, why did I get
married? This is awful.” Then I’ll stop myself and say, “How’s that not true?” I’d be like,
“Okay, let’s see.” There’s so many amazing things in your marriage. It is 80% good and then
here we go back with the black and white thinking. It’s 80% pretty good. [chuckles] They
said, this stuff is deep, these patterns. It’s 80% pretty good and 20% kind of not as good.
When you’re going into this, “Oh, I want to get out of here. This is bad,” it’s just not true.
Just asking yourself that question alone of how is this not true, we’ll start to tell your brain
of, “Okay, let me see some patterns here or some evidence for how this could not be a
black and white situation.” If we do the body one of, “My body is awful,” how could that not
be true? Well, my body is keeping me alive right now. My body is healthy. I love my skin or
my hair or whatever. It’s not all bad. It’s just I don’t really like my stomach or I don’t really
like my weight right now or whatever. That’s where you again, you start to bring this
neutrality to it versus thinking in these extremes.
Then the next thing that I want you to do is because in essence, when we think in black
and white thinking, we really power up the nervous system in this kind of fight, flight, or
freeze response and we want to calm that. The first thing as I said you’re going to do is ask
how is this not true? That’s going to calm it a little bit but then I really want you to just be
able to feel. Okay? Start to ask yourself, what is it that I feel when I think this extreme or
black and white whatever you want to label it as thought. If I go back to the example of
my life and I think, “Oh, I wish I didn’t get married. I don’t like this. I want out,” I’ll just
recognize the feelings of, “Oh, I feel anxious right now. I feel scared and I feel, I don’t
know, a little trapped and things of that sort.”
I’ll just start to recognize what those feelings are and then I’ll go deeper with it. I’ll start to
ask, “Where am I feeling this in my body?” It’s like, “Oh, I feel this in my throat,” or, “I feel
this in my head or my shoulders and my heart or wherever it is, my stomach,” just really
start to describe where it is in your body or find where it is in your body and then go
deeper and describe it. Be like, “Okay, it’s in my throat. It feels like someone’s choking me.
Something’s really, really tight on my throat and the energy inside just feels really heavy.
It’s almost like this big thing is in my throat and I just need to get it out.”
Again, you’re just going to start to describe it to yourself. The more you can describe it, the
better. I know it feels really silly to do this, but this is how we all should be taught to feel
our feelings. If you’re in my coaching program and you’re like, “Lindsay, you never taught
me this,” this is what’s coming up for you in the new Authentically Awesome. That’s a
second part of my coaching program. You’re getting a taste of this now because I’m going
to teach you how to feel your feelings even more.
As I said again, you’re going to describe where it is in your body. Then you’re going to just
go into more details about it and just breathe through it. It’s like, “Oh it’s in my throat, it
feels really heavy. It just feels like this big, heavy ball of something,” and then just breathe
through it. It’s like, “Oh, okay,” and then it’s like, “Okay, where is this going?” Just start to
describe it more and more.
This is again, why a coaching session can be so helpful. I even know of some therapists
that do this. It’s just so powerful when we can have somebody else hold space for this but I
know you can’t always have that, especially in the moment of life of you need it right then
and now. You just want to walk yourself through it and feel it to a point where it feels like
it’s just starting to lessen. When we truly go in and feel the depth of our feelings, then
that’s when it just comes and goes as a wave does in the water and we’ll start to push it
I recently had a coaching session where I did this and I said, “I had a fight recently with my
husband and I’ve processed it in my head but I want to process it in my body more.” I want
to really feel my feelings with it. She’s like, “Great.” This is what we did in essence.
Because again, this is how we feel our feelings and we all just knew this. She’s like, “Okay,
where it’s at?” At the time, I was like, “Well, it’s in my chest and it’s in my head.” She’s like,
“Okay, well, what color does it feel like?” We described the colors and she said, “What kind
of buzzing is it? Is it a fast or is it slow?” I said, “Well, the head is really fast but the heart is
We just walked through the whole thing and she’s like, “Tell me more about it.” I told her
more and then she’d asked me more questions from there. Then by the end of our 20-
minute session, it was like this whole thing had lifted off. Then it just wasn’t like I was
carrying this around anymore because I’d felt the depth of that feeling of it. Really spend
some time of feeling through that. It doesn’t have to take that long. It can only take a few
minutes because otherwise, it’s just going to live inside of you until you can fully feel the
entire wave of whatever that emotion is.
When you have black and white thinking, it’s coming from this anxious again, fight or flight
response. You’ve got to calm that nervous system and even if you don’t want to describe it,
if all you want to do is breathe through it and just breathe through it and keep breathing
through it, and the next thing you can do as you’re breathing and maybe you’ve already
described the feelings is then remind yourself the true and serving thoughts that you’ve
started to think in step 2, when you said, “Okay, how is this not true?”
If you’re like, “My body is awful,” and maybe have this big triggering instance from that of,
“Okay, my body is coming alive. My body is healthy. I love my skin. I love my hair,” and just
calming yourself through this. The other example I gave with my marriage is sometimes I’ll
just calm myself and I’ll think of all the great things about my husband and about our
marriage like, “Whew, okay, everything’s okay. I’m going to be fine,” or some other
thoughts that I have.
Again, a lot of times, as I said, this black and white thinking is handed down to us. Yes, we
get it from external media types circumstances or influences, rights and religion, all of that
sort. It also comes, as I said earlier, this vacillator and this vacillator grew up in an
environment where it was hot and cold. Many times, it came from our parent who was in
and out and nice and then mean and we never knew what we were going to get into. We
just developed these coping mechanisms in this level of anxiety. There are low level or a
higher level, I’m just trying to deal with that.
For most of us, the thread of that is over. We have to really understand that we don’t need
that response anymore. This is where again, deeper coaching work can help to get you
through this. Journaling is so powerful. Do you want to walk yourself through these steps
and just getting your feelings out on paper and seeing what your thoughts are?
Again, the self-coaching model is so helpful. Writing in third person even when you’re
journaling, of saying your name, so, “Lindsay had a moment where she felt she wanted to
leave her marriage. This is what happened,” and da, da, da, da, da. Then, you’re going to
start to see it from a different perspective. You’re going to see it as a story. You’re going to
get more out of your emotional brain and more into your logical brain. You’re going to say,
“Whoa, that is definitely some thinking that’s not serving me.”
You’re going to spot maybe that block away and thinking even more. The stuff is so
helpful. It’s so helpful to calm our nervous system with things. I also find that a lot of
people with black and white thinking, they’re very judgmental with themselves. I hear this
a lot from clients that say, “No, Lindsay, what I’m experiencing right now is bad or awful.
Something’s gone wrong.” I know we label a lot of emotions as negative and that’s why on
the show I’ll typically say, “negative”.
What if there’s never a negative bad or wrong thing that ever happens to us? Think about
that for a second. Again, if we go back to the self-coaching model, we look at every single
circumstance as neutral. Even ones that we would very quickly label as bad of like a death,
or a divorce, or whatever, it’s just all neutral. There’s nothing bad that can ever happen.
What if we just take those labels off? That’s what I’m encouraging my clients to do is,
“Nothing’s gone wrong here. You’re not feeling great today. Let’s talk about it.”
“I just feel like I’m struggling.” I’m like, “Watch the way you’re labeling that because is the
way you’re labeling that really going to serve you?” Then what happens is you start feeling
feelings, which we need to process. Then you start to have to judgment of the feelings, and
so then we got to process the judgment of the feelings. Let’s just take the judgment off.
Let’s just start to believe like nothing has ever gone wrong. There’s never anything bad
that can happen. It’s all just a part of the journey.”
I remember thinking this for the first time as I went through my divorce. I just felt like I
was putting this label on myself and in essence, as I was putting this label of like, “I’m
divorced and divorce equals bad,” I remember having this higher moment of consciousness
and thinking, “Is that really what we’re going through life to do is to have this ultimate
success of doing everything perfectly or is it that we’re going through life to experience
growth?” The way that we experience growth the most is from making what some people
would consider mistakes.
When I look back on things like my divorce and other mistakes that I’ve made in my life,
“mistakes” it’s like, “Bam, that was such an amazing growth opportunity.” That’s how I’ll
start to label it now in my brain. I’ll be like, “What a great growth opportunity.” Didn’t hit
my goal this month, let’s figure out how to grow from this. Great, this thing didn’t happen,
it hurt. We feel the feelings of this, just like I walked you through. We figure out what I
intentionally want to think instead and whoop, another opportunity to grow because I just
realized, it does not serve me to sit around and judge myself even when I am expecting
blocking my thinking.
As I said earlier, this is coming from a childhood of experiencing a lot of black and white
behavior and a lot of black and white thoughts. I want to show a ton of love to myself
because in essence, the little kid version of me, that works for her. The reason I got to
where I am today is because some of that black and white thinking and vacillating
behavior that was like, “I’m getting the f out of here. Here’s how I’m going to do it,” and
just having this drive for success.
This is how a lot of women become go-getters is like, “I’m not stopping until I get what I
want.” Then what happens is that we start to get what we want, it’s like, “Whoa, wait a
second. I think I may actually be sabotaging now what it is I’ve gained to achieve because I
don’t know how to hold onto it. I don’t know how to be in essence, in this fight mentality
anymore. How do I change it? The way we start to change it is to recognize our black and
white thinking and start to in essence, change our thoughts.
Big stuff here, my friend. I hope you have some takeaways with this. If your brain is really
fighting me on this one of like, “I don’t want to stop labeling this thing as bad,” it doesn’t
mean you have to. There are definitely some things in our world that is not great stuff. We
get racism, discrimination, murder, all those other things, but we still have to in essence,
this is just what I’ve chosen to believe. You can choose to believe whatever you want is
taking that back and saying, “Yes, this is pretty awful or pretty bad, but maybe there’s some
good in this too.”
Again, I know if we’re looking at just the racism thing, some of you’re like, “That’s really
coming from a position of privilege, Lindsay.” I totally get that, but even when I’m thinking
about gender discrimination and stuff, it’s like, “Some of this is pretty awful, but some of
this is also pretty awesome.” This is an opportunity for women to really step up to the
plates and do so many things from this. Again, take what you love, leave the rest. I just
want you to start to think about what is serving you and not serving you here. Really, I’m
here just to serve you however you wish.
If you do hire me as your coach, you tell me, “Here are the goals that I want to get,” I’m
going to be the one that’s going to challenge you to get there and someone that’s going to
be calling you off on your BS, which is sometimes black and white thinking. Just know that,
my friends. That’s all I have for you today. Thanks for tuning in to the show and I’ll see you
on the next episode. Bye.
Hey there, Miss Unstoppable. Thanks so much for tuning into this episode. If you enjoyed
it, share it with a friend. Send them a picture of this episode via text, via email, share it on
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how to accomplish your dreams. If you are ready to guarantee you’re going to accomplish
your goals and dreams, then it’s time to start coaching with me.
In my nine-month simple success coaching system, I am going to walk you every single
step of the way to ensure that you get the goals and dreams that you want. The first step is
to apply for a free 60-minute consult call. Just go to LindsayEpreston.com/apply to get
started. As always, my friend, remember, you’re only as unstoppable as you believe you can
be, so believe in yourself. You got this.