Do you think in absolutes? Not sure? Here, let me give you an example: A friend recently picked up a box of licorice mints that was on a kitchen counter in my home. “Oooh, watch out for licorice if you have high blood pressure!” she said in a concerned voice. It is true that real licorice root can affect blood pressure. However, most “licorice” that is eaten in the form of sweets nowadays is licorice flavoring, much of it coming from anise or chemicals. The same friend once mentioned that “men love pink lipstick on a woman.” As I probed the question a little deeper, it appeared that she believed that all men, universally, love pink lipstick. I queried my husband, who’s response was that he doesn’t like lipstick on a woman, period. Of any color. So there is the exception.
These are examples of thinking in absolutes. Licorice root raises blood pressure, therefore anything with the word “licorice” on it must raise blood pressure. This is also a case of “Don’t believe everything you hear.” What you hear may not be true, or it may be true in some cases, or it may be true in some circumstances. When we hear things in the media, we tend to believe them as absolutes: “Newest Study Shows That People Who Sit Die Sooner” a headline reads. All of a sudden, we are paranoid about sitting. But varicose veins form from standing! Yikes! We must see beyond our fears and our absolute thinking. Look deeper. See what lies beneath the headline. You can’t be sure of the motives of the study. Who financed it? What is the objective? What are other factors that can affect the outcome? As we examine things more deeply, we may find that there are not as many boogie men in the closet as we once feared.