Elephants and molehills: dealing with blinkered or extreme thinking


In a changing world it is easy to make assumptions that no longer hold true. One of the most common types of these is called ‘blinkered thinking’ or ‘extreme thinking’.

This mistake happens when we only see part of a situation but not the whole picture. We might be over-cautious, seeing only the negative aspects but not the favourable ones. Or we might focus only on the positive elements of the situation, insisting somehow that the negative aspects “don’t count” or “won’t happen”.

When we blow up tiny problems out of all proportion we call it “making mountains out of molehills”. When we ignore a major factor it becomes the so-called “elephant in the room”. Both of these are blinkered thinking.

Other words that indicate a person might be suffering from extreme thinking include “everyone” / “no-one,” “always” / “never,” “everything” / “nothing,” “everywhere” / “nowhere,” “impossible” / “inevitable,” and “all”, “every”, “none”. Blinkered thinking happens when we see the world only in terms of extreme opposites: good or bad, black or white, all or nothing, utter failure or success beyond our wildest dreams.

Can you think of anyone who seems to be caught up in this kind of distorted thinking?

Because this type of thinking involves such extremes it can be relatively easy to spot. But once we get caught up in it it can also be difficult to change.

If you identify this kind of thinking in yourself or other people, first realise that it is not reality, only a mistaken assumption. Then identify which extreme the person is getting caught up in and ask what would be the opposite of that. Then look for possibilities between these two extremes and ask how likely each one is. This will give you a more accurate picture.

In a changing, churning world nothing is ever guaranteed (or impossible!). The best that we can do is to set out a clear intention of what we want to achieve, then work to create the conditions where that becomes most likely to happen.

And, in order to do that, we first need to spot and remove our mistaken “mis-blink” assumptions, so that we can see our current situation more clearly.

Adapted from Inner Leadership. Buy the Book

Photo By Internet Archive Book Images via StockPholio.net

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