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Dichotomous Thinking: It Will Screw with You Every Time!

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Many people think that our situations are responsible for our pain. But have you ever known any two people who were faced with the exact same circumstances but responded completely differently?


Let’s look at people who have won the lottery. Some people who have won lots of bucks from the lottery rapidly lose it all, spending or investing it recklessly, and ultimately end up exactly where they were before winning the lottery. Others react more responsibly, seeking out financial advice and assistance on how to maintain their sudden wealth. Look at the popular TV show The Biggest Loser. Several contestants who lose an enormous amount of weight come home from the ranch only to gain it all back once they’re home. Some don’t, but most do, sadly. Same situation, different responses.


So why do most people gain their weight back after all the hard work and discipline? Why do some people who invest so much playing the lottery lose it all within a year after winning it? Sounds crazy, doesn’t it? Actually it’s not. It makes complete sense. I believe it’s because their thoughts are not in line with their new circumstances. In other words, if you’re not “clean” around money, there’s absolutely no way you’ll hold onto to a million dollars. So although your circumstances have changed (winning the lottery or losing weight), your thoughts haven’t. If you’re still thinking like a poor or overweight person, you will subconsciously create results that align with your “old” thinking. You will lose the millions or gain the weight back. In other words, if we don’t change our thinking, our results will always be a reflection of that faulty thinking.


Here’s an example. Let’s say you won the lottery and you have one or more of these beliefs:


  • People who are rich are superficial.
  • Money is the root of all evil.
  • If I were wealthy, I would worry about people stealing from me.
  • I’m not good with money.
  • The rich get richer and the poor get poorer.
  • You can’t trust rich people.
  • People from my hometown don’t get rich.
  • You can marry for love or money.


You might then think something like this:


  • I can either be rich or be loved.
  • I can either have tremendous wealth or be kind and trustworthy.
  • I can either have money or have a deep and meaningful life.


This is what is referred to as dichotomous thinking or believing that the universe consists of pairs or opposites. When your beliefs are “either this or that,” it keeps you from sustaining your weight loss or maintaining your newfound wealth.


In order to free yourself from dichotomous thinking, try rewriting those same thoughts with and instead of or.


  • I intend to be rich and trustworthy and kind.
  • I intend to have both a wealthy and deeply fulfilling life by giving to others who are less fortunate.
  • I intend to maintain my newfound wealth and live a life filled with love.


Altering your dichotomous thinking may be the ticket to further free you from the behavior that never really served you, doesn’t serve you now and will probably never serve you in the future.

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