To get unstuck we need to see a world full of possibilities, options and ideas, not just two choices.
For example, if someone is unhappy in their job ‘Black or White’ thinking could look like, “I hate my boss, so now I have to get a new job” or “I’m not enjoying this role, so now I need to change careers”. This is a problem because NEITHER of the options – in this case to ‘Stay!’ or ‘Go!’ are acceptable, and as a result we can’t choose. And that’s why we remain, well, stuck!
To get unstuck, there are of course many other potential options like finding a new role (or new boss) in the same organization. You could do the same role in a completely different organization or try to delegate or reduce some of the more unpleasant aspects of the role. Another option is to find meaning outside of work so that what goes on at work has less sway over how we feel. And that’s just for starters.
‘Black and White’ thinking CAN sometimes be helpful. When we make our choices extreme – the extreme unpleasantness can sometimes force us to make a decision and get unstuck. But there is also a cost. By chunking up to simple ‘either/or’ options we limit ourselves and lose the essential nuances and ‘shades of grey’ that give us our best solutions.
Try These 5 Powerful Brainstorming Questions to Get Unstuck and Out of ‘Black and White’ Thinking:
- Think of someone successful you truly respect and admire. How might they look differently at this situation?
- Suppose for a moment that you have all the money/ support/ time/ energy/ confidence/ health you need (try each one at a time!). What other options are there?
- What other possibilities/ideas are there that you haven’t thought of yet?
- Underneath it all, what is it that you really, really want? What would you like to be different? Think about options and solutions in terms of meeting your underlying NEEDS.
- Make a list of 25 solutions to your problem. They don’t need to be different, variations on the same solution are fine. You can even list wacky, impossible or completely crazy ideas to get unctuck – have fun and get creative! You’ll be amazed at what ‘real’ solutions come from playing around with possibilities.
And Remember: Staying stuck and doing nothing is still a choice even if it’s an unconscious one. There are always options – to get unstuck we just need to look and tweak things until we find them.
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