This type of thinking is typified by what I would call, and recognise in myself, as ‘all or nothing’ thinking. So if I relapse then I’m not just going to have one glass I’m going to get completely smashed. There is no point relapsing otherwise right? And if I’m going to relapse on drinking I may as well smoke and eat garbage all the next day and blow off my run. As Almost Alcohol described it it’s ‘when we finally stop moderating and swan dive down to the rocky, dark, terrifying bottom‘. No middle ground or grey area. Success or failure, win or lose, good or bad.
It is related to the common psychological defence mechanism, called ‘splitting‘ which is the error in a person’s thinking to bring together both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is also known as a ‘false dilemma’ and the fallacy is the opposite, unsurprisingly, of the argument to moderation. Uh oh. Sounds familiar.
So back to the brilliant passage of Almost Alcohol’s, which you can read in it’s entirety here, these are the lines that resonated with me: I’m a fuck up. I can’t get out of this. I can’t quit. For me that is at the heart of my all or nothing thinking ‘I’m a f*ck up’.
So how am I working on this thinking error?
By checking the truth of it and challenging myself:
- What is the evidence for this thought, for saying that I am a f*ck up?
- It may be true that sometimes I may do things that I regret, and that I could improve the ways I do things
- However although I feel I have f*cked up – does that make me a f*ck up? NO.
- I remind myself that reality is made up of many shades of grey (hello, a well known book just popped into my head!)
- I am not all good or all bad, all right or all wrong
- There is no black and white.
Does this type of thinking resonate with you too? What other examples of black and white thinking around booze do you have that you are happy to share, anonymously or otherwise? 🙂