Vision is the Art of Seeing What is Invisible to Others
"Vision is the art of seeing what is invisible to others." Jonathan Swift
I came across this quote the other day and it really got me to thinking. Why is it that some people see the world in only black and white? Why do people avoid those layers of gray that inevitably mean the most? I always try to understand behavioral patterns as a teacher, mom, and in trying to build all relationships. To see the world in black and white is to live within the contours of extremism. The outlook divides the world into right versus wrong, good versus evil, and yes versus no. The thinking is dependent on words such as always and never. Especially in times of crisis, the black and white worldview is looked upon as strength and courage to the casual observer. For all of the obvious short term reasons to embrace black and white thinking, there is a definite downside.
The problem with black and white thinking is that it usually does battle in a world that is nuanced and gray. Not only does black and white thinking show little appreciation for the world of gray it has even less for self-reflection. To self reflect, especially after a decision has been made, could open one up to the possibility of being wrong, which defeats the purpose of black and white thinking. As I researched I found that many psychologists maintain that black and white thinking actually exasperates mental health issues like depression and anxiety.
Black and white thinking is also flawed because it inherently assumes a static world. It is dependent upon everything and everyone maintaining the role that such thinking has already been determined.
Black and white thinking is geared more towards generic than the situational. Because of this, there is little regard to humanity. Failure becomes hard to confront because one tends to place an inordinate amount of energy into being right. It is an unfortunate mechanism for dealing with the complexities of the world.
It requires far less courage to live in the black and white than it does to live in the gray.
Black and white thinking doesn't just hurt ourselves but also the relationships we try to build with other people. When we view the world in strict and over-simplistic terms, we are less likely to to compromise and cooperate with others to meet common interests.
Black and white thinking may provide momentary comfort but is unrealistic to sustain. After all, even black and white photos come with their own varying shades of gray.
When I find myself starting to have those "All or Nothing" thoughts I remind myself to do a few things.
1. Open my mind.
2. Let go of my expectations.
3. Look for the gray areas. It's tempting to fall into black and white thinking but I try to keep in mind that there are almost always gray areas. In almost every situation, there are different layers and different ways of looking at what you may be faced with.
4. Try to see things as they are. Hard to admit but I sometimes see things as how I want them to be rather than how they are which can be a major problem. If I remove myself emotionally from a problem I can then see it for what it really is.
5. Avoid labeling in one word. Think about it like this... if someone asks how your day is, you usually respond with words like "Good" or "Terrible." Even a phrase like "It was ok" can be limiting. When you label a situation/person/etc. with a single word or phrase, you're instantly limiting it. Realizing that everyday is more than "good" or "bad" is what I try to do and I also open my self up to describing things in detail ( at least in my mind) to avoid those thoughts in black and white.
I try my best to be a reflective person in general and examine all aspects of a situation to make sense of and improve my life. Black and white thinking has certainly not been a helpful way to approach life.
Obviously I am not at all opposed to dressing in black and white and wanted to share a view recent outfits that are black and white but have added touches of color, texture, and fun!
Speaking of black and white and fun... what's not to love about an Oreo? All of these recipes are super easy and fun to make and share!
I am reminded of another quote as I reread this and think more about how we interpret the ever-changing world around us. And I hear there is some special Star Wars something or other going on this weekend so...
Also so true and inspiring-
I hope you found this post worthwhile!
I truly appreciate your time and attention and I'd love to hear from you. Please feel free to leave a comment or even a link if you have something you would like to share.