Black & White


In black and white thinking, things appear either “black” or “white” – “all” or “nothing.” The real world, however, contains thousands of shades and colors. It is rich, complex – and often subtle. But when you see things as black or white, the world appears flat, oversimplified, and without color. You no longer notice the nuances or complexities – and you limit the joy and fulfillment you can discover.

When do you succumb to this limited form of thinking in your relationship? The card BLACK & WHITE warns you to be alert for this kind of narrow thinking in times of friction or emotional stress. In the heat of emotion, the mind will oversimplify. Things actually appear to be black or white. Viewing our situation and our partner in all-or-nothing terms, we fall prey to negative assumptions. We may then say or do things that further provoke dissatisfaction, defensiveness, and upset feelings. In this way, we rob ourselves of positive options in communicating and put obstacles in the way of happiness.

Whenever you accuse your partner of “always” doing this or “never” doing that, you are trapped in black and white thinking. Inside this trap, you are temporarily blinded to who your partner truly is. You are lost in extremes – and have lost your ability to communicate constructively.

If you feel your partner contributes “nothing” – or that you do “everything” – you invalidate any positive energy your partner actually does put into the relationship. If you believe a situation is “totally” your partner’s fault, you fail to see what part you play in it. When you think your upset feelings are “all” caused by your partner, you ignore whatever emotional sensitivities you yourself are prone to have.

You might earnestly say things like, “You’re always late,” “You never listen,” “Nothing you say is sincere.” The resulting caricature of your partner is bound to be a source of conflict. You might harbor beliefs such as “He never gives me affection” or “She will never respond to me the way I want.” Such beliefs can severely limit how you let yourself interact – reducing the fulfillment you allow into your life.

Both partners can become trapped in the rigidity of black and white thinking. They must accuse each other and defend themselves. Trapped in this box, they decrease their capacity for healthy communication, lose sight of positive options for relating, and limit their potential satisfaction.

The card BLACK & WHITE encourages you to watch out for words like “always,” “never,” “everything,” and “nothing.” If you hear yourself using such a word, stop, take a breath, and question your thoughts. Ask yourself, “What if things are not the way they appear to be?” Open your eyes to the possibility that you are mistaken in how you perceive things.

Perhaps black and white statements are actually a dramatic way to emphasize how important something is to you. Such overblown statements are hard to hear, and most likely will not get the results you truly want. It may be important for you to recognize and communicate what you actually need – and to do this directly and constructively. Do this with an open heart, and you stay open to discovering positive, mutually satisfying options – and deeper fulfillment with your partner.