Elephants and molehills: watching out for blinkered or extreme thinking


Another mistaken blink-of-an-eye assumption (or “mis-blink“) that we can easily fall into during times of change is called ‘blinkered thinking’ or ‘extreme thinking’.

This reaction happens when a person can only see part of a situation. They might only see the undesirable aspects but not the favourable ones, or they might focus only the positive elements, insisting somehow that the negative aspects “don’t count.” They might blow tiny elements of a situation out of all proportion, “making mountains out of molehills.” They might block out or ignore a key factor, the well-known “elephant in the room.”

All these reactions are indicators that blinkered or extreme thinking might be happening, a response to stress that leads us to see the world only in terms of extremes: black or white, good or bad, all or nothing, utter failure or success beyond our wildest dreams.

Because this type of blinkered thinking describes extremes it can be relatively easy to spot. Some other words that indicate a person might be suffering from blinkered thinking include “everyone,” “no-one,” “always,” “never,” “everything,” “nothing,” “everywhere,” “nowhere,” “impossible,” “inevitable,” and “all,” “every,” “none.”

But the fact that this mistaken assumption contains extreme viewpoints also means that it can be difficult to change once we get caught up in it.

If you identify this kind of thinking in yourself or others, the first step is to realise that it is a “mis-blink,” not reality. Then identify which extreme the person is getting caught up in and ask what extreme would be the opposite of that. Then ask what possibilities lie between the two extremes and how likely they each are.

In a churning world nothing is ever guaranteed, or impossible. The best we can do is to set a clear intention and then work to create conditions where our desired outcome becomes more likely to happen. And before we can do that, it is important to remove our mis-blinks so that we can see our current situation clearly.

Adapted from Inner Leadership.

Photo By Internet Archive Book Images via StockPholio.net

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