Have you heard of Absolute Thinking? Some call it rigid thinking. If you get stuck in a state a state of overwhelm, anxiety, depression or procrastination (and you’ve tried everything) it might be because of something called 'absolute thinking'.
Absolute thinking can often pose a problem because it can lead to inflexibility, intolerance, and difficulty in problem-solving. For example, a person who engages in absolute thinking might be unable to consider alternative solutions to a problem because they believe there is no way out.
Examples of absolute thinking are:
"Men/women never listen"
"I never sleep well in the summer"
"I always feel bad during my period"
"Ageing is a curse"
"No one is ever there for me"
Absolute thinking is characterised by the words 'always' and 'never' and denotes psychological inflexibility.
Psychological flexibility, on the other hand, is the ability to adapt and respond effectively to changing situations and challenging experiences.
Someone with flexible thinking might have the perspective that
"Everything will be ok in the end and if it's not ok it's not the end"
"Even though it feels bad right now, I'm curious about shifting my perspective"
"It's impossible to have tried everything as there are so many things to try"
"I am hopeful that I can reconnect and find my sense of belonging"
Here are some strategies that can help you become more psychologically flexible:
1. Become mindfully aware of rigidity. Mindfulness is the practice of being present and aware of your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. Regular mindfulness practice can help you develop greater awareness and acceptance of when your thinking might be being rigid and absolute.
2. Identify and challenge your thoughts: once you have become aware of rigidity in your thinking, try and challenge it. Open yourself up to different possibilities. Learning to identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts can help you develop a more flexible and creative mindset.
3. Practice self-compassion: Being kind and compassionate toward yourself can help you develop a more accepting and flexible attitude toward your experiences. Recognize that everyone experiences difficult emotions and challenges, and practice treating yourself with the same kindness and understanding that you would offer a friend.
4. Engage in values-based action: Identify your core values and strive to align your actions, thoughts and behaviours with those values, even in challenging or uncomfortable situations. This can help you develop a sense of purpose and meaning in your life, which can increase your psychological flexibility.
5. Seek support: Connecting with others who share your struggles and challenges can help you feel less alone and more supported. Consider joining a support group or seeking out therapy to help you build your psychological flexibility.
Building psychological flexibility is a worthwhile process to learn to make you feel more hopeful about the future, but it does takes time and effort. Be patient with yourself and focus on making small, incremental changes over time.
Sending love x