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Black and White Thinking

Updated: Dec 1, 2023

A lot has been said about how black and white thinking represents extreme - intense - thinking. And this results in extremely strong responses and sometimes extreme suffering when we are processing pain. So that's intensity. And in therapy we work on turning down the intensity.

But recently I've been seeing a lot of suffering in my office that stems from a different feature of black and white thinking. It's the way that black and white thinking makes every thought and feeling binary. Meaning when you have a thought or feeling you have to unconsciously immediately DECIDE something before being able to process it. You are deciding whether it's either THIS or THAT. The door on your left is "this" and if you decide that this feeling or thought is "this" then you walk through that door and the door on your right remains shut. If you instead decide that your feeling is "that" then you walk through door number two and door one stays shut. If you change your mind, you go from door two back to one. And if you change your mind again, off you go from door one back to door one (rumination much?).

Now imagine that you have a thought or feeling and you skip the deciding part. You just experience the thought or feeling without evaluation. Voila! Both doors stay open. You don't have to decide anything. You can just have your thought or feeling and the doors remain open as you think, feel and process. What you've just done is turned a black and white thought or feeling back into what it's meant to be - just a thought or feeling! It just IS without any judgement.

So, if someone says you have black and white thinking and you think - hey that's not right I'm not feeling intensely about this issue - then maybe they mean you are making an extra step for yourself that is causing you struggle. You may be adding a decision to the feeling or thinking process, causing yourself more suffering.

If this sounds like you, then maybe the next time you have a thought or feeling that causes you discomfort, you visualize the two open doors and rest in the freedom of not having to chose to move forward. You can instead put your attention on feeling or thinking your thought and just hanging out there. Do this a hundred times and you get better at not falling for the illusion that thoughts and feelings are binary.

If this seems like absolute garbage then I posit that you may not yet had the experience of living outside of black and white thinking. I certainly can relate. But it's time for a prison break! Be free to have colorful mismatched contradictory thoughts and feelings. The Safe and Sound Protocol is a therapeutic intervention that helps individuals experience what this is like. Through listening and vibration the SSP Protocol messenges your nervous system that you are in a restful state away from threat. In that threat-inhibited state, can you experience non-binary thoughts and feelings.

If you need a roadmap to transition away from binary black and white thinking, and don't have a felt sense of what that might feel like, I suggest trying a coarse of the Safe and Sound Protocol with a trained practitioner. It's a five hour process broken into bite sized peaces each session, where you can process and work with your experience during and after listening. It's not a pill but it is a medication because it opens one's portals to a different way of being and experiencing in the world, which is the only way to decide you like to live life differently.

If you want to learn more about the Safe and Sound Protocol, reach out to me directly and I'd be happy to share more of my experience working with this tool at

May your day be filled with non-binary limiting thoughts and feelings! Be Well!

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