The Problem With Dualistic (Black/White) Thinking
The problem with dualistic thinking is that life is not meant to be black and white. It is not meant to be "us versus them." From my early childhood, as a Christian, I was taught that it was "us vs. them"...meaning Christians versus the everybody else. Everybody who wasn't Christian was an enemy of God - and therefore our enemies too. And we were not to get close to them other than to evangelize them
But now I see so differently - post religion - We are all human, having a human experience. It is possible for us to be in this thing called life together, although many will not let that be possible if you do not fit into their group.
Life is so gray - and not in a dreary sense - but in an opportunity and point of view sense. There is not one specific, perfect path that we have to hunt down and choose to follow in order to have the best life possible. We are creators, and there is so much in life that we do get to choose.
True, some things seem to be decided ahead of time, or even as we go, for us. But if we do not like something, we are not necessarily stuck. Even if the specific event cant change, we can change parts of it, that allow us to do what we can to re-invent how we want our reality to look, or even how we perceive the vent.
Dualistic thinking, the idea that there is one right path in life and all the other paths are wrong, cuts us off from countless opportunities to experience life through different lenses. Dualistic thinking shuts a person down from even seeing anything else as an option. It keeps one from hearing out another person's truth as valid. It views life and decisions as "my way or the highway." It hurts and even destroys relationships with the "us vs. them" mentality.
Dualistic thinking was what we were taught as Evangelicals. We were taught to follow what our church taught us as far as their perspective on the Bible. Only interpret the Bible through the lens of what the church authority has taught you, and only use approved authors to do extra study on your own, lest you be led into heresy and Satan will get you and take you captive in your mind.
Enforcing dualistic thinking in religion, especially in the mind of a child, overflows into other areas of life too. In the teen years, when a child should be developing critical thinking - the ability to question things and think on their own - this milestone to think for oneself is suppressed and even shut down from dualistic religion.
But it doesn't stop there. It can over-pour into other areas of life - enforcing in the young mind that everybody else should think the way you think - or they are not okay. This is natural for a child to think this way as a little child. But dualistic religion keeps them there way beyond their time! Evangelical dualistic thinking teaches that relationships with people that don't think like you can even be dangerous, because they can cause you to think outside what is safe to believe and know. If this dualistic thinking isn't ever challenged, an individual can go through young adulthood, middle age, and old age stuck in their "my way is the best way" mind-sets.
What happens when we are able to break free from this dualistic thinking is an amazing experience. When we are able to see that the world is not black and white, that life is not about "us vs. them," that everybody's experience is just that - an experience - and it's all ok, our entire world opens up into an amazing place to be.
Threats of our existence and our relationships disappear because we are no longer fighting to be right.
Approximately one year ago, I was set free from the grasp of thinking in black and white. I no longer believe there is one right or perfect path for everybody. We are not cookie cutters. We are not meant to be replicas of somebody else. We are all unique and that includes our identity, our style, our belief system, our hair, our body, or personality, our tastes...it covers every single little thing. We are free to create and be who we want to be. And nobody can tell us that we are wrong. It's none of their business who you are or who I am.
They do not get to create us - WE DO. And WE do not get to create THEM.
None of us have the right to tell anybody else how they should create themselves to be in this world.
Has this break from the grasp of thinking in black and white been an easy path? Goodness no! I fought leaving it hard! I mean, I thought it was the ONE RIGHT WAY!
Leaving black and white thinking was leaving a huge chunk of my identity. But leaving (actually being forcefully pulled away from by some questioning in my mind) dualistic thinking showed me so much about myself. I thought I loved and accepted people before. But I had no idea what love and acceptance was until I dropped my conditions that I didn't even know I held within my black/white mindset.
Over the last year, I have developed the amazing ability to hold space for ANYBODY. Yes, ANYBODY. Even the people that have wronged me. That does not mean I do not have boundaries. But it means I can treat them as human, hold space for them, feel their pain, and accept them as they are, knowing they are doing what they know, on their path, that they have chosen for them. I can love them. I can do good for them when given the opportunity.
But don't mistake this for being their close friend. I'm simply saying, they can do them, without me trying to change them...because that's not my job :). It's their personal freedom to exist in the way they choose to exist.