Flexible Vs. Inflexible Thinking

Personal development
4 Jul 2023

A couple of blogs in May were about the value of shifting perspective. They got me thinking. Shifting perspective is an incredibly useful skill for one’s mental health but there are times when you don’t want to do that. There are times when you just want to stick to the flippin’ plan!  

I was working with someone who had really rigid thinking which wasn’t helpful and we did a lot to loosen it. She had the idea that she absolutely MUST NOT do x, y, and z in order to function. She knew it wasn’t rational but she couldn’t stop feeling it. Letting go of that idea was her perspective shift. Once it felt different it was easy to change behaviour. A clear win for flexible thinking and mental health.

However, it’s a different issue sometimes: we can get a shift of perspective which helps — for a while — but we shift back. So you’ll see someone who “loves” her partner but it dawns on her that her partner is a lying, cheating, no-good unit so she ends the relationship for good. Till something happens that makes her feel he’s changed and she takes him back. NO! Stick to the flippin’ plan! This is not the time for flexible thinking.

Or someone is losing weight (which for them is unhealthy) as they’ve realised their so-called “comfort foods” are designed to remove personal choice. All is going well till that oh-so-useful flexible thinking makes them wonder if they can have “just a bit”. NO! Stick to the flippin’ plan! This too is not the time for flexible thinking.  

Stopping smoking? Stick to the flippin’ plan!

Stopping alcohol? Stick to the flippin’ plan!

Stopping battering yourself over the head thinking about your ex? Stick to the flippin’ plan!

It’s tricky isn’t it. There can be no rigid rules *for all contexts*. Except for those contexts where you need rigid rules.


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