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Distorted Thinking and Mental Health

Everything that glitters is not gold describes the predicament we all face with recognizing distortions of thinking. Psychologists today suggest there are about fifteen different ways people distort the way they process thought. These distortions have become red flags in which one can measure the health of their own mind, as well as mental stability in others.

One type of black and white thinking, otherwise known as all-or-nothing, or polarized thinking is characteristic in people diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder, this form of thinking is described as the inability to take a neutral position in matters, but instead viewing reality in terms of extremes, for example, a loved one can be thought of as either all good, or all bad. This type of thinking manifests into experiences that are labelled as excellent, or unpleasant, as well as projections of personal failure, or total perfection.

Experts believe that this form of thinking comes from survival patterns, or living in fight or flight. By monitoring speech, one may recognize when this form of thinking is manifest. Words that may point to extremist thinking are: always, never, perfect, ruined, furious, disaster, impossible, and supposed too. Although these words are not negative words by themselves, they are simply key words to recognize repetitive thought patterns that may be habitual, and somewhat compulsive.

Polarized thinking harms relationships because is distorts one’s perception of others. When a person is set on one side of the scale of all-or-nothing, they miss out on the opportunity to understand the perspective of others, which leads to lack of an ability to negotiate successfully, or compromise in relationships with others. Extremist behaviours can lead to extremist decisions such as breaking off a relationship when in all-is-bad thinking. This breaking off relationships can happen in the workplace with firing staff, or avoiding resolve of issues as one’s perspective is viewed as superior, or “the right one”. This type of thinking shifts from idealization to devaluing which leads to emotional upheavals in relationships.

Polarized thinking also harms relationship to self, studies have made correlations between all-or-nothing thinking and eating disorders. This form of distortion in thinking can cause people to look at food as all good or all bad, it also distorts a person’s body image which causes them to view themselves as perfect, or revolting. This sets up cycles of binge-purge eating, along with all-or-nothing cycles of addiction.

A sure way to recognize this form of thinking within oneself is to do an attitude security check, for example, ask yourself if there is anything your bad at? If your perspective states that you are bad at something, your mind is operating in a polarized way, an example of this may be that you think you’re bad a math, which is a projection of other people’s opinions. This, however, is an opportunity to adjust your thinking about your perspective of your relationship to math, and your ability to learn. What I mean here is, being bad at math is a matter of opinion, but in reality a person’s potential is what they choose to make it, so the truth of the matter is that all people have the potential to be average at math given the opportunity for learning techniques that acquire skill. So viewing oneself, as having the power to move closer to one’s own potential is key to realizing that not only do we exist on a fluctuating scale, but that everyone else does as well. Although, the tipping of the scale to perfection is an achievement few obtain, acceptance of where we, and others stand with perspective makes relationships flow much more smoothly. Seek Bindu, the point of creation.



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