Black or White Thinking.
I think it is a massive issue that overly simplistic statements dominate our information space. It is not a surprise though. It is alluring and addictive. We love advice that is given as a blanket rule. Easy to Follow. Simple. Brief. Someone who stands up and says with confidence: "This is exactly how it is" appeals to us and is far more enticing, and believable, than someone who stands up and says "......well it depends.."
Let's take a common one in Sport, some might say:
"It's not about winning"
OK. we can forget about winning! Phew!
But, you're given that advice in a world where winners are celebrated. Often, they're ONLY ONES that are celebrated. They get the money. The scholarships, The sponsorship. The winners are on the news. The winners are standing at the front of assembly at school. I mean, the whole nature of sport is that it is a place where one compares themselves to an opposition, why? To see who is best!
But the advice of: "it's not about winning" or similar, is all very well intentioned. I get it.
But, doesn't fit with the world we operate in. No. Winning is not everything. It's not the only thing to focus on. But, as a coach or parent you can't just disregard it, the world will contradict you.
It's also like the advice of: "It doesn't matter what others think of you."
Again, this is well intentioned. People can care TOO MUCH about what others think. I work with many athletes around managing how they perceive peoples opinions and how they can learn to focus on different things.
But what about that 10th Job interview that you're having after you've missed out on 9 others? Surely the opinions of those people should matter to you? It might be time to drop the "authentic self" and start adapting with consideration to how you are being perceived?
What people think of you matters, you need to fit in to the tribe. But, it's not everything! So it's a grey area. You need to keep a balanced perspective. A blanket rule won't apply here or to so many other things in life. So what do we do?
Try to think in terms of balance.
If you're tipping too far to the side of being obsessed with winning. You might need to work on focusing more on the process and the controllable. Or, if you lack direction and motivation, you might need to start setting some winning or outcome goals that spark a fire in your belly and help get you up in the morning.
Likewise if you're obsessing about being negatively evaluated or judged and you try and mind-read and imagine what people are thinking of you ALL THE TIME.
Then you might need to learn to focus on what's important to you and practice letting go of the fear of other peoples opinions. At least, letting go if it controlling your every action. Conversely, if you blindly chase your goals and ignore the presence of other people in your life, you might find that paying attention to what others are thinking and feeling could have some benefit for you...