2017 is going to be the best year ever!
2016 was the worst year ever!!!
In my attempts to achieve greater balance in my thinking and verbal proclamations in general, you will not hear me make either of these statements.
Because my aim, at present, is to resist what the psychologists call “dichotomous thinking”.
According to the experts, the more we turn from black-and-white thinking along the lines of “everything is/was/will be awful”, the less drama we create in our life.
A more balanced statement might be:
“Some things didn’t go well, but some things did.”
Or more specifically:
“Some aspects of my day were challenging and I didn’t cope so well, but I was pleased with how well I handled it when my neighbour was rude to me.”
Resisting dichotomous thinking enables us to more creatively and effectively deal with life’s issues.
We become better at critical thinking when we move towards a broader, more balanced approach.
Even if your day might have felt like a complete dive-bomb, taking the time to critically analyse your day – or your year – through a broader, more compassionate lens will hopefully bring perspective.
Life is rarely completely one way or the other, as David Burns says:
“If you try to force your experiences into absolute categories, you will be constantly depressed because your perceptions will not conform to reality. You will set yourself up for discrediting yourself endlessly because whatever you do will never measure up to your exaggerated expectations.”
Perfectionists often struggle with dichotomous thinking.
I find myself saying things in my head like:
“If I can’t do it ‘perfectly’ – or if things don’t go exactly as I planned – then I’m not even going to bother.”
I’m now trying to move towards a more balanced approach.
I know that not everything will probably go to plan, or work out exactly as I want it to – but I’m still going to get involved and make the best of it.
Good enough is good enough, and I can only do my best and play my part.
And as for others? They’re mostly just trying to do their best too.
Takes a bit of pressure off when we think that way, doesn’t it?
God, help me when I start to enter the territory of ‘all or nothing’. It isn’t fair on me or others, and it isn’t realistic. Help me to adopt a more balanced approach when considering my life, the person I want to be, and the things I want to do. No one is perfect, including me. Most of us are somewhere in the middle, with shades of grey. Help me to take some of the pressure off myself, the people around me, and the year ahead. You are the only perfect one, and it’s in you that I put my trust – not my ability to do things perfectly. It’s only your strength working in me that I can do anything good or worthy at all. And it’s only by your grace that each new day dawns before me, with all its challenges and opportunities.