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Is that true?

When I get into my blacker moods, I spin into absolutist thinking. I start using terms like “always” and “never” about whatever situation I’m in or whoever I’m thinking about.

My logical mind knows that the world is complex, that things change over time, and that absolutes rarely apply. But when I feel crappy, that logic disappears and a black and white view of the world takes its place.

I am also far more likely to complain when I’m in these moods. Worse, complaining reinforces those feelings. It’s a downward spiral of suck.

One of the best tools I’ve found to interrupt that spiral is a simple question:

Is that true?

While my mind is reeling with complaints about how awful everything is, the best way to get a tiny bit of distance and start to slow it all down is just to ask myself:

Is that true?

Tara Brach talks about “Things that are real but not true,” and I’ve found that applies so well to these moods. The feelings are most definitely real, but they might not reflect the truth of the situation. Of course, sometimes there is truth there. Then I ask myself a second question:

What else is also true?

See, I’ve found that complaints thrive in a world that is Right/Wrong, Black/White, Should/Shouldn’t. To break the complaining cycle, it’s necessary to introduce grey zones, complexity, or at least a little bit of doubt amid all that certainty. Asking the question, “What else is also true?” is an invitation to consider another point of view, to find a different angle on the same situation which can shake me out of the absolutism that keeps my dark moods in place.

I invite you to use these simple questions as tools when you start sliding into the universe of Always and Never:

Is that true?
What else is also true?

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