Thinking errors 1: Black or white thinking

Most of us like to see ourselves as logical, rational people. We imagine that we look at the facts and draw sensible conclusions. But the reality is often different.

While a lot of the time you might think logically most of us have occasional ways of thinking that are not accurate.

These are called thinking errors (cognitive inaccuracies) and they can lead us to ignore evidence or facts and come to less sensible conclusions.

Black or white thinking

Black or white thinking (or all or nothing thinking) is where you see things as either 100% perfect or completely worthless. Either I’m perfect or I’m useless.

Let’s say you’re working on a project. It goes really well, but it took a bit longer than planned, one customer made a minor suggestion for improvement, or you could see how it could have been improved.

For the black and white thinker, these minor points completely undermine the project. It wasn’t perfect so it must go in the failure basket.

If you’ve given a presentation to 100 people and 99 are happy and one person looks bored or unhappy, you see it as a failure. Because if you were really good, the entire audience would be happy.

If you get 99% in a test it should have been 100%. You didn’t get it 100% right, it wasn’t perfect, therefore you’re a fraud. The missing 1% is your Achilles heel.

Shades of grey
The reality is that the world is rarely black or white. They are almost always shades of grey. Things are rarely completely perfect or 100% awful. So if you find yourself doing some black and white thinking, start looking for the shades of grey.


In fact, there’s a whole rainbow of colours out there.





Extract from The Imposter Syndrome.

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