Hello my friend,
Today I want to make the case against “black and white” thinking, a narrow way of seeing the world in terms of extremes. Another way to describe this is “Always Never Thinking“.
As a coach, I listen to my clients speak all the time and I listen carefully to what they say, how they say it so that I can ask helpful, sometimes provocative questions. We listen for Always Never Thinking, so-called ANTs, because ANTs are revealing of an underlying mindset that does not serve the client’s ability to achieve great results. Here are a few examples:
- My ideas are never chosen.
- He always belittles me.
- Things never work out for me.
- I always run into traffic.
When you look at “Always Never Thinking “statements, they are rarely accurate. They may accurately reflect the level of frustration on the part of the client, but they are factually incorrect. They are actually emotional reactions and responses to things that happen occasionally, or even frequently.
The problem that I have with them is that these statements also characterize the speaker as a victim or as a passive participant in the event described. This, my friends, is disempowering. It gives away the clients power to own their responsibility for their emotions, their results and even their lives.
When people use “always” or “never”, they are often characterizing themselves as victims of other people or circumstances. And again, they are incorrect! I mean… who runs into traffic every time? Really? Exaggerate much?
Instead of the passive, “I’m a victim!” statement that “I always run into traffic.”, give these a try:
- “I often run into traffic jams at this time of day so I take alternative routes.”
- “It is virtually impossible to avoid traffic on my commute home … so I have material to read, listen to or even phone calls to make so that I remain productive during drive-time.”
These statements are very different because the speaker is in control of her emotion, her mental state and her attitude! She owns these things, despite the existence of things that are beyond her control.
I challenge you, dear reader, to be on the lookout for ANTs in your own speech and thought patterns. Listen carefully for them and avoid portraying yourself as a victim to anyone else or most importantly, to yourself! Check the accuracy of that “always” statement or “never” statement that you catch yourself making. If it is not true, rephrase it in a way that is accurate and empowering for you.
Lose the victim mindset and recapture your power over the things you can control.
Stomp those ANTs!
All the best,
By the way, I don’t charge extra for typos. They are my gift to you.