Addicted, obsessive thinking is black and white thinking. Here’s what it looks like to a love addict:
- A relationship is the key to happiness.
- It may not be perfect, but having a relationship will make my entire life worth living
- Love conquers all
- Love will save the day
- People in a relationship are so lucky.
- People in a relationship are never lonely
- As bad as it might be, a relationship is better than being alone
- Being alone is the opposite of being in love and with someone
- Once a person is in a relationship their life becomes easier
These, of course, are all overblown generalizations, most of them not even true, or which do not represent reality fully. And yet, whether we come out and state them or not, as love addicts, we still feel them and secretly believe them to be true. If we didn’t, we probably wouldn’t be love addicts!
But black and white thinking leads to having a hugely unrealistic understanding of the world we live in, and skews our perspective on the experiences we have. I also call this kind of thinking superlative thinking. For example, a superlative in the English language is a word like “always” or “never” or “best” or “worst.” In other words, superlatives are an exaggerated mode of expression in one direction or another, usually good or bad. All or nothing thinking.
Again, this kind of thinking can deter a more positive, well-rounded, balanced perspective on things and keep you from moving forward. So, this week’s advice: try to get rid of the black and white thinking and try to remove superlatives from your language.
Instead of: “I was only happy with him” try to be more realistic and replace it with, “I was often happy with him, but not always.”
Instead of “Love conquers all” try “Love is one part of a whole picture. I also need food, shelter, money, peace of mind and security.”
Instead of, “I am always going to be alone” think instead, “I may be alone now, but I do not know where I might be a year from now.”
Challenge yourself to be more realistic. Express yourself with your logical/rational mind instead of your emotional mind (that always wants to think in extremes!).
I am challenged with this daily. I will sometimes say to D, “you never do laundry; I always do it.” But this isn’t true and it’s not fair to him that I am falsely accusing him. And more than anything, when I remove the superlative thinking, I gain a little more clarity on my situation and it suddenly seems manageable.
Try it! Change some of these false beliefs into more realistic beliefs and watch how the “gray” areas of life raise your mood!