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Why Is Dichotomous Thinking Harmful to the Critical Thinking and Reasoning Process?

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Most of our thinking takes little or no conscious effort. We just do it. You could almost say that we think without thinking! If I am asked whether I would like coffee or tea, I don’t have to exercise skill to reply appropriately

Similarly if I am asked a factual question, and I know the answer, it takes no skill to give it. Expressing a preference or stating a fact are not in themselves thinking skills. There are language and communication skills involved, of course, and these are very considerable skills in their own right. But they are contributory skills to the activities which we are calling ‘thinking’.

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Have you ever heard the term 'dichotomous thinking?' If you haven't then don't feel too bad, not a lot of people have. Many people refer to this type of thinking as 'black and white thinking'. When you are using dichotomous thinking, it means you're looking at everything as an either-or situation. That means, you only see good and bad, right and wrong, but nothing in the middle. There is no 'gray area' for you because you see everything as only one way or the other. This type of thinking alone isn't indicative of any mental disorder, but it is found as part of borderline personality disorder. Dichotomous thinking is a symptom of this disorder, and it can lead to a lot of difficulty in life and even problems accomplishing the things that you want. Many people have a habit of dichotomous thinking without being aware of it and may not understand the impact it has on life. The ability to only see things as one way or another can lead to difficulties, though. When was the last time that you set a goal for yourself? Let's say you had a goal to finish ten projects by the end of the week. At the end of the week, you've only accomplished eight

Now what? For most people, they might be a little disappointed, but they'll also be able to look at accomplishing eight projects as a good start and a good effort. For someone who uses dichotomous thinking, there is no gray area of 'okay.' Instead, there is only success and failure. Because your goal was ten and you only got eight it would mean that you failed.

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Ordinarily, if you recognize that you have a tendency to dichotomous thinking, it is also important to avoid acting on your extreme thoughts or making sudden decisions

You might want to write things down or discuss them with a trusted friend or therapist. These steps can give you time to consider your decisions and to get feedback from a neutral source before you take action that could cause harm to your relationships or your finances.

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