Thinking in black and white

Do you find yourself thinking in black and white? As in this is right and that is wrong? This is good for me and that’s bad?black and white thinking

It’s interesting how in our political and national situations that polarized views have become more prevalent these past few years – Brexit, UK general election, US presidential election. We seem to have become communities of For or Against.

But is that really what you think?

In my own world, “it’s more complicated than that” 😉 I may have strong views about something, but not be too bothered about something else. My family may have strong views about something I’m not particularly interested in. Does that make me a bad person?

Interesting isn’t it! 😉

What I’ve noticed this year when I’ve had more time to listen to myself and learn more about myself, (the more you listen, the more you learn) is that, for me, there’s a whole scale from black to white on everything. Which is why limiting beliefs can hold so much power over us if we don’t take notice them.

We all have limiting beliefs which are stuck in our unconscious mind. These form when we’re very young, usually between 0-4, with more layers being added up to the age of 7. Richard Barrett calls these two stages “Surviving” 0-2 and “Conforming” 3-7 in psychological development. We’ve heard about the impact of neglect and malnutrition on babies, which effects children as they grow. However we’ve all been impacted in some way by our life’s experiences and what we make up about that.

We’re all told things as children that we may or may not believe unconditionally. “You’re great at art”, “you’re stupid”, “you’re a super talented athlete”, “maths and you just don’t go together”. Those things stick! And they’re usually NOT TRUE! But those thoughts are planted in our unconscious mind and that’s what feeds our conscious mind if we don’t take charge.

So when our parents or grandparents told us things as children, it’s likely we hold similar beliefs – unconsciously. As we get older we may challenge those perceptions our parents had. We may not, but we each have a choice in every situation. Each of us is a unique person and what someone else believes to be true may be for them. But is it for you?

Many people I know spend years trying to get rid of their limiting beliefs. I’m not sure I was aware of mine until these past few years. Really aware of how they held me back and what I made up in my head about situations.

“It’s clearly not meant to be if that’s happened to me”

“I couldn’t do anything about that – it was out of my control”

“I’m not good enough anyway, so that’s why that’s happened”

When something happens out of your control do you excuse it? Or make up a story as to why it’s happened? That’s just your limiting beliefs making things up or helping you make sense of things. Does it help? Probably not. In my experience, it’s reinforced the idea that the situation was out of my control, so it’s OK. What I failed to learn was that I had the ability to create things to change my own circumstances.

Black and white thinking puts things in boxes

What I’ve learnt from Nick and Runa at the No More Boxes movement is that we very easily put things in boxes and think that makes it OK. We label things. “Essex girls are…”, “Northerners are…”, “Rich people are…”, “Poor people are…” We do! All of us do it. By putting things in boxes it feels like we’re making things simpler in our lives, and who doesn’t want a simpler life?

But when we put others in boxes it’s likely we’re in our own box/es too. Our limiting beliefs are creating havoc in a way that they hold the power over us. Whatever we make up about things we do, see, want are coming from the base of those limiting beliefs holding the power over us.

If we let them.

There’s another way though. Listening is the starting point, in my opinion. Others may suggest a different starting point for you. For me, if you’re not listening to yourself you’re not in control. I’d spent years blaming others, the economy, the “situation”, about things in my life. I felt stuck, trapped and couldn’t see any way out of the mess that was my life at the time. I was unwell a lot of the time as well very unhappy. When I started listening my life started to change.

Listening better shows what’s true for you

When you start listening to yourself you get to know yourself more. In a recent conversation at the Conscious Cafe I stated,

The more I’ve listened and understood my wholeness and what makes me who I am the more fulfilled I feel.

It was an insight I’d not noticed before, but it had a huge impact on those I was chatting to about happiness and fulfilment.

When you listen to yourself you get to know what’s right for you in your life. It stops mattering what others think or do because you know who you are and why you’re doing what you’re doing. For me I use the language of life purpose, but you may have different words you use to describe what’s important to you in your life.

  • When you listen to your body does it tell you to “drink cranberry juice every morning before anything else”? Or do you notice that there’s something not quite right today and you think cranberry juice will help ease that?
  • When you listen to what you notice in your work, what do you hear? “You must get that xyz system as it’s fantastic and currently on offer”. Or do you notice that you need to get a good system in place to help you communicate better with your customers?

It’s not black and white is it? What you hear isn’t always clear. What you notice may be a marginal discomfort in your left toe. It could be for any number of reasons, so it’s not clear. It’s not black and white what’s caused the discomfort. There may be many ways to ease it too (usually ignoring it is the best one I’ve found as when we focus on it we’re putting energy into thinking our toe hurts).

When you listen more you start to hear more things. Just like when you go for a walk with no phone, no earphones and just walk. What do you hear? The world often opens up as we listen more carefully. Our world isn’t black and white. There are many colours and shades and hues. So I encourage you to start listening more and see what you hear.

This 21 days of Hope series helps you start listening more, if you’d like some help with this.



For me or for someone else?

Making choices what is your end result

What would you spend a gift of £20 on? This was my dilemma yesterday on day 2 of the Money Game. This game is imaginary, but still, you have to imagine what you’d spend that £20 on TODAY. You can’t save it, or put it towards something else. You have to imagine to spend it.

I had no idea it would be so hard to choose on day 2 of this 30 day game! Would I spend it on me. Treat myself as this money was a gift. Would I treat the house or someone else?

On day 1 I was really clear that my imaginary £10 (the money doubles every day), was a gift for me to treat myself. So why was day 2 so hard? And yes, I’m wondering how challenging the next 28 days are going to be if I’m finding it difficult to choose on day 2! Or does it get easier the more money you have? I wonder.

When I shared my thoughts with the others playing the game with the No More Boxes Movement, founder Nick Haines reminded me that I’m a natural nurturer. My instinct is to support others before I support myself, so he wasn’t surprised that I was having this dilemma.

I eventually decided to buy a lovely big candle which sort of touches both things I wanted to achieve – treat myself, but also have something for the house and others to share. I will probably get the most enjoyment from this beautiful lightly scented candle, but my family will also benefit.

What I’m wondering is, do I perceive smaller amounts of money to have more impact on my daily life and those of the people I live with? When I’m making business decisions with much larger amounts of money I’ve always found that easy.

Ahh, as I write I’m thinking – “I was clear about the end result for my business”. Am I always clear about what I’m spending £10 or £20 on? Those sums of money are usually assigned to food and petrol. Or an entry fee for one son’s sporting event. But every £10 or £20 spent adds up to quite a bit doesn’t it? So, extrapolating that a bit – I’m clear about feeding my family. I know I need to put petrol in the car so we can visit mother in law or meet a friend for a walk.

So as I struggled yesterday, I was struggling because I wasn’t clear about the end result I wanted to create/impact with the money I had to spend.


So, I go back to my earlier question – what would YOU spend £20 on if I gave that to you today as a gift to do what you wanted with?

You can still join the Money Game if you’d like to explore what happens when you’re gifted imaginary money every day:

The Money Box Game is designed to release you from negative associations and beliefs around wealth and money. How much we should or shouldn’t have.

Day 1 –

How big is your money box?

Yesterday I started a Money Box game with the No More Boxes Movement. Every day this month each participant is given a specified amount of imaginary money to spend that day. It starts at $10 and doubles every day.Money box game

Why am I doing the money box game?

It’s fun, yet I know I’m going to be challenged. Today as I write this I’m trying to work out what to spend my $20 on and I’m already in confusion! Do I spend it on myself or my family? Should I get something for the house that we need, or as do I treat this as extra money and therefore it’s a treat which I wouldn’t usually use on household expenditure?

The Money Box Game is designed to release you from negative associations and beliefs around wealth and money. How much we should or shouldn’t have.

Limiting beliefs are just that – limiting. Yet we all have them. They unconsciously hold us back from moving forward, often keeping us stuck for  long periods of time. Many of mine over the years, and those of clients I’ve worked with, have been around money.

  • Not having enough money
  • Believing I’m not worthy to have money to do the things I want to do
  • Having so much debt it overwhelms everything else including all the amazing things I do have
  • Seeing others do things I’d love to do and feeling frustrated
  • Believing what others believe about money and how it should be used/invested
  • Believing others have more than enough and should be helping struggling family members out

I’m not expecting to share all my money story here in these pages over the course of the next month but I did want to capture my thoughts, feelings, and the things that come up for me and what I notice about those playing the money game. I’ve shared a lot in my book, Passion is not Enough, if you’re interested in learning more about a big part of my recent money story. I don’t even know if I’ll share what I choose to spend my money on with you every day. I’ll see. Would it help you to know what I choose to spend my money on? Or will that trigger something in you about the way I’m choosing to spend my imaginary money? Interesting concept isn’t it? 😉

What interests you about money?

We learn at a young age, that “money makes the world go round”. Our parents talk about money. They tell us we can have things, or can’t because of how much they cost. We’re encouraged to save some of the money we’re given “for a rainy day”, “for the future”, “for something you want”, and we maybe learn a little about money management.

My teenage children are very different in the way they’ve approached money. One spending everything (and more when he’s borrowed from his brother!), he’s got the moment it lands in his hands; the other saving saving saving and not wanting to spend even a few pounds for something that he needs (he gets a clothing allowance, but you should have seen the state his underpants got to before he’d buy new ones!….in fact, maybe it’s a good idea that you don’t!), as it seems not valuable enough.

When I was a teenager I worked and earnt money primarily from babysitting. I saved and saved for things I really wanted. I knew I wanted to go travelling so I saved what I could, but I also went out with friends and it feels like I went to the cinema every week (proportionately it wasn’t as expensive as it is now). So I felt very well off in my own world.

As a University student I travelled in the summer holidays and worked in the other holidays as a waitress. I used all the overdraft allowance I was offered by the banks to do the things I wanted to do as I had this KNOWING that I would pay it all off once I started working and earning. I felt freedom and didn’t restrict myself and my spending, but now, looking back, I know that I was focusing on what I really wanted – to travel and see the world.

Right now what interests me is not going back over my money story since that freedom I felt as a student, but what I can learn about myself through this game in the next 30 days. As I said, day 2 is already challenging me in how to spend my money (you have to spend your allowance every day. You can’t save it, or buy stocks and shares). Why is $20 harder to spend than $10 which was easy for me yesterday – I took myself (in my imagination), to a favourite cafe and bought coffee and cake (probably 2 coffees if I’m honest with the calculations and the size of the cakes they serve!).

I’m interested in how the things to do with money have more impact than say things to do with education or relationships. Yes I know that money can have an impact of both of those things. But why does “money” have such a different feel about it? If I can help my son’s understand what’s happened on my journey, maybe they can make more informed choices and not ever feel stuck by money.

As a family we’re doing this game. The boys said, “what’s the point?”, to which my husband and I said, “it’s going to be fun and interesting”. Let’s see what we all learn from this experience. I think they’ve already started looking which fancy cars they might get as we get further through the month! 😉

Want to join me?

The reason for sharing this journey with others is so we can support each other to take a look at whatever limiting beliefs and stories we’ve been telling ourselves over the years. You may know I’m a listener and coach, so I’m used to supporting others and helping them hear what’s in their minds as they talk things through. All the leaders of the No More Boxes Movement, Runa and Nick ask is that you start on the day you join in at so everyone is spending the same amount each day. So if you join today you’ll have $20 (or £ if you choose to work like my family are). Simple to join, just sign up here:

We know that as in the UK we head into another lockdown having money is a real issue for some. If you’d like to join in but don’t have $11 to be able to use on this game this month please get in touch with Nick & Runa saying you’d like to join. They’ll work out a way you can join and be part of this interesting, challenging game.

The #NoMoreBoxes Movement & Methodology Challenges the age-old habit of putting people into boxes based on simple and narrow stereotypes.