‘Black and white’ thinking

What is ‘black and white’ thinking?

Black and white (or all or nothing) thinking is a type of ‘thinking trap’ which happens when people focus on extremes with no middle ground. It is very common for people generally, but also for people living with diabetes, to get caught in this trap

Example:

It can be easy to fall into the trap of viewing a glucose reading as being ‘good’ or ‘bad’; a decision about an insulin dose as being either ‘right’ or ‘wrong’; or a day as a ‘success’ or complete ‘failure’.  

This extreme thinking can have a negative impact on how you feel about yourself and your diabetes care. It can also affect how you subsequently behave and respond. There are over 40 different factors that can affect your glucose levels every day, so you can’t get it right all the time. However, black and white thinking can mean you set impossibly high standards for yourself, and when you fall short of these expectations, it can make you feel like a total failure. Click on the button below. For example: 

Black and white thinking can
result in using words such as: 
  • Always
  • Perfect
  • Good
  • Ruined
  • Impossible
  • Never
  • Should
  • Bad
  • Disaster
  • Failure
  • Click here for ideas about how you can manage ‘black and white’ thinking.  

    Let’s talk about it:

    What black and white thinking traps do you notice yourself getting caught up in that affect how you feel about yourself and your diabetes?  


    Go to ‘Emotional wellbeing and diabetes: thoughts, feelings and behaviours’ or choose another section.

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