Last Updated on September 10, 2023 by Rayna
Time to read: 8 minutes
Are you tired of seeing the world in black and white? Trauma can trap you into rigid thinking patterns. Let’s learn about the ins and outs of black and white thinking and then break free from this deception. In this article you will learn to embrace the vast possibilities of living in the gray. Becoming more open minded gives you the opportunity to consider other perspectives and live a more balanced life.
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Feeling Trapped In Your Thinking?
Do you often find yourself trapped in a mindset that leaves you misunderstood? I sure did. Back in my twice a week counseling days (sigh!), my counselor pointed out to me that I was a black and white thinker. She explained that when my brain would process a situation, I would end up with the conclusion that either everything was good or everything was bad. My counselor showed me that the problem with this type of thinking was that it left no room for mistakes, forgiveness, or redemption. I had no grid for embracing the possibility that there may be another outcome.
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How Black And White Thinking Started
I did not wake up one day and decide to think in black and white. This way of thinking was a coping mechanism I developed from a childhood of trauma from sexual abuse. It was safer for me to have an answer to each situation I was facing rather than embrace the unknown. My black and white thinking made me feel in control and less scared. The problem with that is the coping mechanisms that served me well in trauma no longer benefitted me as a healed person. You can read more of my story here.
My counselor taught me that I could have bad things happening in one part of my life while very good things would exist in other parts of my life. For example, I could be coping with debilitating memories of sexual abuse and feel helpless but at the same time I was excelling at my job each day, bought a new home that I loved, and enjoyed hanging out with dear friends and family on the weekends. My counselor then went even deeper and said a given situation could have good and bad together and things would still be okay. She called this, “living in the gray.”
Living In The Gray
Living in the gray means letting go of rigid confines and embracing the beauty and complexity of life. By embracing the gray, we open ourselves up to a more balanced perspective. It also creates an atmosphere for unlocking personal growth and experiencing a greater sense of fulfillment.
To truly appreciate the value of embracing the gray, we must first grasp the concept of black and white thinking. A black and white mindset is characterized by a rigid belief system where things can only be right or wrong with no room for error (meaning our assumption may be incorrect) but more importantly it leaves no room for complexity or flexibility. Pride can hide itself in black and white thinking along with other not so great qualities.
Understanding Black and White Thinking
Black and white thinking can be comforting because it provides a sense of certainty. The security of it allows us to navigate through life with clear guidelines and rules. However, this mindset comes with its limitations. By viewing the world so strictly, we overlook the richness and personal stories that exist within every situation.
One major drawback of black and white thinking is its inability to account for another perspective. Let’s get real. Life is hardly ever black or white. By limiting ourselves to two options, good or bad, we fail to acknowledge the deeper connections that shape our experiences. This narrow perspective can lead to missed opportunities for growth and understanding.
Another limitation of black and white thinking is that it often leads to a narrow-minded approach to problem solving. By limiting ourselves to rigid options, we may miss out on creative solutions that exist beyond the black and white mindset. Embracing the gray allows us to explore alternative perspectives and consider a wider array of possibilities.
The Journey To The Gray
Join me on a journey to explore the beauty and complexity of the gray area of thinking where you do not always know the outcome. Let’s give up being controlling and trust Jesus with our circumstances. So many times as Christians we think that we are trusting God when we are not. If we only allow ourselves to exist in rigid thinking we are missing out all the mysteries of God.
When we embrace the gray, we open ourselves up to alternative perspectives and a wider array of possibilities. For instance, we can ask Jesus His perspective on any given situation and actually get an answer! It’s all about opening your mind to the possibility that Jesus will answer you. And He will!
My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow meJohn 10:27, KJV
Jesus Challenges A Rigid Mindset
When Jesus walked the earth the majority of the concepts He presented were new and innovative. The disciples had no grid for some of the ways Jesus told them to live. Jesus was rocking the boat by challenging their black and white thinking. Here are some of the ways Jesus challenged a rigid mindset.
- How many times to forgive? Seventy times seven (Matthew 18:21-35)
- He taught them to give everything away to be rich (Matthew 19:21)
- Live by grace and not by the law (Romans 6:14)
- You have to be born again to be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17-21)
These were all new perspectives that Jesus presented just like breaking free from black and white thinking brings you into a new atmosphere of possibilities. By embracing the gray, we become more compassionate and willing to see things from different perspectives. And we open ourselves up to be taught by Jesus in a different way. Let Him wow you! This not only strengthens your relationship with Him, but also enhances your personal growth and development.
Embracing the Gray: Finding Balance and Acceptance
Finding balance and acceptance is key to embracing the gray. Acceptance requires us to recognize that not everything can be neatly categorized or understood in absolutes. It means being comfortable with uncertainty and embracing the unknown. By seeking balance, we acknowledge that life is rarely black or white, but rather a complex mixture of gray.
Living in the gray allows us to let go of rigid thinking and embrace new ideas and opportunities. It encourages us to challenge our own beliefs and explore different perspectives. As we do so, we not only expand our own horizons but also enrich our relationships and interactions with others.
I want to encourage you to challenge your own beliefs in your soul which is your mind, will, and emotions. Examining your thought life is an eye-opening experience. Embracing the gray means acknowledging that there are often multiple truths and perspectives to consider. This mindset encourages us to engage with Jesus to get His perspective on your life and the situations you face every day.
How Journaling Can Help
The way to become more open minded is to start journaling. As you journal you will get in touch with your belief system and your thought life. I created the mindset journal specifically to help you to uncover your thinking and challenge yourself to go deeper to see how much truth there is to your perspective. Are you believing a lie? If so, where did this lie begin? These are the places we need to go to determine where your black and white thinking began.
The goal is to bring all of your thoughts to truth so that you can walk in the armor of God every day of your life. Part of your armor is the helmet of salvation, which protects your thoughts from lies. You will receive these truths by learning the word of God and conversing with Jesus as you journal. Write down what Jesus shows you and tells you.
Embrace the power of salvation’s full deliverance, like a helmet to protect your thoughts from lies. And take the mighty razor-sharp Spirit-sword of the spoken word of God.Ephesians 6:17-18, TPT
Appreciating The Journey
As we navigate the complexities of life, the gray offers us a space to be kinder to ourselves. It encourages self-compassion and self-acceptance. Instead of striving for perfection or constantly judging ourselves, we learn to appreciate our unique journey and the lessons it brings. By surrendering our desire to control every outcome, we free ourselves from unnecessary stress and anxiety, allowing us to fully experience the present moment.
Let’s let go of the rigid confines of black and white thinking and become more open minded. Emotional healing is all about exploring new paths with Jesus. As you become more comfortable with the unknown you will be more willing to explore new paths, even if they are unfamiliar or challenging.
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