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When Seeing Life as Black-or-White is Incredibly Insightful

by Dr. Amy Johnson on August 10, 2017

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Life isn’t really black-or-white…but seeing it that way has been one of the most helpful things I’ve ever done.

Here’s the either/or I’d like you to consider:

We’re either in life, in the moment, immersed and present…that’s one end of the spectrum.

Or we’re in our heads, in our personal thought systems and our subjective realities. That’s the other end.

In reality, we’re somewhere between these two poles in each and every moment. But look at them as a black-or-white distinction to really get a feel for how this works.

At the present-moment, in-life end, things look and feel relatively simple. We’re just bobbing along, taking things as they come. We’re reactive rather than proactive. We have exactly what we need in that moment, no more and no less.

There’s less variety in our feelings at the in-life end. We’re generally content and peaceful because that’s the natural backdrop. Because emotion comes from thinking and we’re less caught up in personal, busy thinking we’re….generally content and peaceful.

At the in-your-head end, life looks complex rather than simple. There is enormous variety and complexity in our personal thinking.

There is anger, which looks different than insecurity, boredom, or sadness. Thoughts and feelings are specific and it looks as if something other than our own thought-in-the-moment created them.

Do you have a feel for this either/or? For the black-or-white picture of life painted here for illustration?

Do you see how you’re sometimes immersed in an activity, with the person you’re in love with, or just sitting alone and you experience that moment of true presence?

And do you see how you’re sometimes so busy in the personal reality that’s being created in your own mind that you are oblivious to life as it’s actually unfolding around you?

Good. That’s the black-or-white that is unbelievably helpful to feel into.

The more you feel yourself caught up in emotional drama and mental complexity, the more you begin to clearly see what’s going on. It’s not that your husband is truly driving you nuts, that life is cruel and unfair, or that you’re literally going to die of boredom.

It’s that you’re at the in-your-head end of the spectrum.

The more it looks like “those” are your kind of people but those others over there are not, or come to think of it, you’d rather not deal with any people for a while, or that no one understands you and never has…you begin to see that all that’s really going on is that you have a lot on your mind. That’s it.

The more complicated and hopeless things feel the more you get to see: oh yeah…this is me lost in my own ideas and images. Not in life, but in my complicated and hopeless thoughts about life.

Since you’ve made it this far, I’ll share the best part.

Sliding from the in-your-head end of the spectrum to the in-present-moment-life end of the spectrum happens naturally when you stop taking those personal thoughts and ideas you’re batting around so seriously.

When you let go, they let go. And wheeeeeeee! There you go to the other end.

You’ll slide back, of course. But once you know how it works you slide back and forth far more naturally and easily.

It’s so simple it’s practically black-or-white.

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