Letting go of the black and white thinking...

by tall penguin 24 Replies latest jw friends

  • ICBehindtheCurtain
    I simply wasted years of my life walking around spouting off utter nonsense with the utter conviction I was specially blessed totally right.

    Terry, that is so true, I've wasted 28 years of my life on this nonsense, I also recall feeling so special because I thought all those poor ignorant people lived their lives only worrying about their houses (when we would be on svc in the ritzy part of town and they slammed the door on us), their cars and such, I felt superior because I knew the end was coming and they would realize what a mistake they had made, wow what realization this has been, to realize that these are generally good honest people just doing the best they can and enjoying their lives which is what we are now doing, no longer wasting precious Saturday mornings on disturbing people's lives, but instead sleeping late, playing with my kids, gardening there are so many worthwhile activities to enjoy now.


  • Poztate

    I forget where I got this from but it seems worth reposting


    One of the characteristics of mind control, whether it exists within an abusive relationship between two people or in a cultic group, is "black and white thinking".

    Black and white thinking means seeing the world only in terms of extremes, with no middle ground. Things are portrayed as either perfect or terrible, right or wrong, good or evil. Everything in life is portayed as extreme opposites. Rules dominate this kind of thinking. There is no room for circumstance that may bring color to the experience.

    We tend to talk to young children in very simple either/or terms – black and white thinking. Their minds are not yet structured to be able to handle a wide variety of choices. Keeping it simple is a help to them. But as a child grows, the mind develops greater ability to handle information and choices.

    In times of stress people will often revert to the black and white thinking of childhood. This is normal. When stressed it can become difficult to think clearly about a variety of options. High stress families, or dysfunctional families, often use black and white thinking well for most of their communications. So does the WTS.

    Once the black and white thinking from childhood has been triggered it becomes very easy to manipulate an adult as if they were a child. If you address some one as a child, especially if they are stressed, they will most likely respond as a child does. Which would of course explain why mature thinking adults who are under a degree of stress in their lives might be more susectible to the hooks presented by cults.

    As many of us recognize life as a JW is stressful. There are constant demands to do more and little commendation for work well done. Keeping a person in this stressful state reinforces the child-like behavior of easy acceptance of what is told without question.

    Black and white thinking can easily be recognized by the words it uses: all or nothing, always and never, good or bad, nobody and everybody. Everything is absloutes. Rules govern all situations with no exceptions. Most often these rules are externally imposed and have nothing to do with personal choices that mature adults are capable of making.

    Black and white thinking occurs when an argument only allows two options, even though there may be more. The reason for this strategy is to exclude the other options because they fall into an undesireable broad category – the gray area.

    The argument takes a false position, without considering qualifications, middle ground, compromises, or alternative positions. Black and white thinking provides two extreme options without giving thought to other possibilities. The fallacy of black and white thinking mimics sound reasoning by process of elimination (everything except the two extremes is eliminated), but it eliminates too much (it places options out of consideration before they have truly been considered).

    Reasoning by process of elimination is good reasoning. When you learn to recognize the shades of gray in your experiences, you will be better able to make sound decisions.

    It takes a lot of time and effort to change this way of thinking. However, with work we can improve in this area. I have found, though, that simply being aware of the fact that I do this type of thinking is a big step in changing it.

    Notice what you're doing and how you're thinking. Once you recognize what you're thinking it's a bit easier to figure out how to change it.

    Listen to what people you trust have to say. They often see us in a different way than we can see ourselves. Their input can be valuable to help us judge where we are on the spectrum of black and white thinking.

    Ask when you are not sure if you understood something you read or were told. Don’t ASS-U-ME. Get clarification so you have the information you need to evaluate your responses and decisions.

    Ask yourself whether there are other options.

    Sit and write out your thoughts about what is happening to see if you are caught up in the balck and white thinking. Read it over and look for those opposite words (or only one side) Change the black and white thinking to add some shades of grey – compromises and other options

    A few years ago a client said to me that she discovered it wasn’t grey between the black and white. It was all the colors of the rainbow. I like that.

  • tall penguin
    tall penguin

    Wow, more great responses. Thanks all.
    It's funny, my brother (who was never a baptized jw) ran into one of my dear jw friends in a grocery store this weekend. She asked how he was doing and he shared that 2005 was a year of ups and downs and lots of learning. She then took the opportunity to do the ole "the world is getting worse" bit. My brother didn't bite but instead said, "It all depends how you look at it." The conversation ended there.
    It really is sad to me that the whole jw mindset relies on seeing the bad in the world around them. It requires them to see only the black and white of their environment, to the exclusion of all of the beautiful colours. I'm so happy to be moving out of that mindset, challenging as it is.
    tall penguin

  • LDH
    Every opportunity, trial, experience, relationship, life decision prompted the question, "Is this a gift from Jehovah or is it a temptation from Satan?" I got a job offer: Is it Jehovah providing so I can pioneer or Satan trying to tempt me with worldly goals? I meet a new brother: Is it Jehovah providing a prospective mate or Satan trying to keep me from the full-time service? My car breaks down again: Is it Jehovah telling me to sell it so I can focus more on the ministry or Satan trying to tie me up in working longer hours to pay for repairs?

    Yes, the part that makes you 'mentally ill' is not the asking of the question, it's trying to figure out the answer. The process is to make you judge yourself, and base your 'level' of spirituality on your answers. If you don't believe Jehovah is providing all of these 'gifts' --then you are not spiritual enough.

    Everything in the JW world is done to make you feel that you have to keep 'seeking to get in through the narrow door.'

  • anewme

    God knows we do not have much control over our lives and that there is much we cannot see with our eyes.

    But he has given us the intelligence to perceive his presence and his will for us.

    Two very wise people have been given to us to help us understand a simple truth.

    Solomon and Jesus.

    I have been reading for pleasure and insight the Living Bible.

    After exhausting himself to write so much about the human condition Solomon concluded at Ecc.12:13 "Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the entire duty of man"
    Jesus said something similar when he said "Love the Lord your God with all your whole heart, and with all your soul,and with all your strength,and with all your mind. And you must love your neighbor just as much as you love your self. Do this and you will live."

    I believe this is a personal and colorful, rich journey to the real truth and to our creator's love.

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