Black and White Thinking and Booze

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? 🙂

6 thoughts on “Black and White Thinking and Booze

  1. Enjoyed this and happy to share on FB – I really look forward to all your posts, but especially the CBT related ones at the moment. I am starting a coaching and mentoring qual. next week and a finding your posts are helping me prepare xxx

    1. Thanks hon for the share 🙂 Tell me more about the coaching and mentoring qualification (email me if you don’t want to discuss in the comments). Am curious to learn about it xx

  2. This is me to a ‘T’ I guess I only ever drank to get drunk – otherwise there was no point. Alcohol was the failsafe way to get a holiday from my head. Now I just have to live with what is in there. Think that is why I feel so unsettled and twitchy right now. Love your posts – they really do help xxxx

    1. Hi Kim Glad it’s not just me!! It’s like if we give ourselves permission to drink we REALLY drink. No half measures – ha ha excuse the pun 😉 Happy to be helping xx

  3. I definitely did this too. While I was trying to not drink in the week, then if I did, on a Monday or Tues night, then I would just think “fuck it, looks like I’m drinking this week then” rather than try to carry on with the “not drinking” for the rest of the week. Just one of the things that would undermine “not drinking in the week” as a moderation plan…

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