How to overcome black or white thinking?

In this article we take a look at some of the most common dichotomies & corresponding trichotomies to examine their effect on our thought processes.

In this article we examine ways to overcome black and white thinking, i.e. thinking in a dichotomy. We take a look at some of the most common dichotomies, & correlate these to corresponding trichotomies to expand our thought processes.


We all tend to think in forms of Dichotomies more than often. Dichotomies offer a simple view of the world, which is easy to grasp. It also offers simple options (just 2) to choose for ourselves, and makes choosing a comfortable process for the Self.

Dichotomies vs Trichotomies

Dichotomies

Lets take a look at a few Dichotomies to make this clear. For each of the following Dichotomies, make a choice:

  • Truth vs Lie
  • Good vs Bad
  • Beautiful vs Ugly
  • Love vs Hate
  • Similar vs Opposite
  • God vs Devil

Furthermore, these dichotomies are propagated recursively by the entertainment industry. Its a simplistic view of the world, and it provides an easy premise for emotional amplification. And that’s how the entertainment industry makes money. This would not be a problem if we were consuming entertainment media sparingly – watching one movie a week. But in the age when binge watching is an accepted personal norm, this leads to a thought pattern & world view that is not based in reality or pragmatism.

A person who thinks in terms of Dichotomies places himself & others at extreme ends of the scale.

Trichotomies

One of the best ways to prevent your thought process from converging towards a dichotomic perspective is to understand Trichotomies & the numerous Trichotomic representations of the Self & the world around us. The world actually exists as a Polychotomy – often will multiple non-linear possibilities within a single dimension, but a Trichotomy is the first step towards expanding your perspective and moving away from a dichotomy.

Lets take a look at one of the most fundamental Trichotomies – Plato’s Transcendentals.

Now, make a choice based on the following options.

  • Beautiful Lie vs Ugly Truth
  • Virtuous Lie vs Sinful Truth
  • Ugly good lie vs Beautiful bad truth

As you can see, the above requires making imperfect choices, which is a better representation of the choices that life gives us.

Now, compare this to the dichotomic choices presented earlier. Those choices represent ideals. If you are sticking to ideals, and are only choosing based on dichotomic viewpoints, you are more than likely missing a significant part of the picture.


Self Awareness Questions

  • Identify an Ugly Truth about yourself. How can you make it virtuous?
  • Identify a sinful truth about yourself. Examples are greed, lust etc. How can you make it beautiful?

This article & the above questions are part of the new version of my workbook – The Stellar Self. This topic is one of the many topics of discussion in my workshops.