Seeing the World in Black and White.

We all suffer from it. We all do it. And it’s not consciously our faults. No, really.

Black and white thinking. This is the pattern of thinking that categorizes someone, something, or some ideas into the areas of “all good” or “all bad”, “all right” or “all wrong”, “all this” or “all that”, and is the birthplace of stereotypes and limiting beliefs.

In reality, there are few absolutes. No person is “all good” or “all bad” but there are, even though it’s a bit cliche–shades of grey. We often forget this when our emotions set in and when we are hurt or bullied by others. For example, we’d like to think that Hitler was all evil and terrible, but in actuality, there was likely some good to him at some point in his life. Hurt people, hurt people… and man, I can’t imagine what sort of limiting belief system he grew to believe.  No, I’m not advocating that Hitler was a good person by any means, just challenging your brains to stretch a bit–and apply this to other people/scenarios in your life (maybe someone who hurt you recently, or that person that just gets under your skin).

So why do we do this? Well, if you look at the way the brain processes information, it categorizes things to remember it. Categorizing information into a yes/no, black/white categories takes up MUCH less glucose (i.e. energy/output) than creating more “shades” or categories so to speak.

That’s why in my experience I advocate that the BEST way to eliminate stereotypes is exposure. When you are exposed to counterexamples than the typical “stereotypes” projected in the media and certain parts of the country then your brain is almost FORCED into creating new categories and furthering their “color pallette”.

The key to having more “colors” (categories) in your brain is experience and education. Challenge yourself to spend time with people that are not in your normal circles (religious, socioeconomic, etc). Read the opposite perspective of your view point, just to challenge and broaden your understanding of a subject (and try to be objective in the process–if possible). Doing so provides a more colorful view of the world, will broaden your beliefs, and challenge your brain to use more of it’s potential and make connections it doesn’t do innately.

So what’s keeping you colorblind?

One thought on “Seeing the World in Black and White.

  1. Pingback: Entry 11 – Culturally Competent Care | Many Faces of Health

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