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All or Nothing Thinking 101

All or Nothing Thinking 101

“I have always been really bad at this.”  “I am always right about these things.” “I will only vote for this political party.” “You never do anything nice for me.”  “I am a loser.” “This will turn out badly, things in my life always do.”

“Oh no, X happened so my life is over.” “I just ate a piece of cake, I will never succeed at dieting.” “I made a mistake in this report, I can’t do this job.”

Do you notice a similar theme running through all those statements? Each of these statements are considered all-or-nothing statements.

These sweeping generalizations are called selective abstractions and are a form of cognitive distortion with a theme of extreme position without any other possibilities.

If you find yourself using terms like these, you might be engaging in all-or-nothing type thinking

  • Always
  • Only
  • Never
  • Constantly

Why does this occur?

There can be several reasons why you engage in all-or-nothing thinking, but one of the reasons you may engage in this type of thinking is as a defensive mechanism in certain situations.

All-or-nothing is an easy mechanism to deploy when you want to avoid getting at a particular truth. Sometimes it’s just easier to create broad and generalized statements. In essence, instead of doing the hard work, you take the short cut to generalized extremes.

Also, according to cognitive behavior therapy of Los Angeles you may be engaging in all-or-nothing thinking as a way to “fuel emotions such as anxiety, depression, or anger.”  This type of distorted thinking could be a part of a larger mental health issue that needs to be addressed.

Psychology Today indicates that stress or threatening situation may also play a role in why you may be engaging in all-or-nothing thinking.

Whatever the reasons maybe, this type of consistent methodology of thinking and coping mechanics may necessitate the need for a more in-depth evaluation into this matter.

What’s the Big Deal?

What’s the harm of having an all-or-nothing mentality anyway? What if you want to live at the extreme ends of the spectrum? Why is that bad? Well, there are several reasons why having all-or-nothing thinking is not a healthy mentality to have.

It creates and either or scenario

When you have an all-or-nothing mentality, it creates scenarios that only have two options. Every choice, every situation, every condition can only be views one of two ways. When this is your standard operating procedure, you ultimately rob yourself of vast and unique choices that are available to you. In the end you miss out.

Even worse, this type of thinking can create an environment in which you actually believe that you only have two choices. This can be a devastating mindset. Truly believing that you only have binary options available to you can be stifling to your creativity, energy, and happiness.

It defines yourself too narrowly.

When you apply the all-or-nothing thinking mentality to yourself, you begin to define who you are in very narrow categories. You make it so that you need to fit yourself into these tight small categories. It is much like stuffing 5 pounds of stuff into a 2-pound bag. It’s not meant to fit.

You are much to complex a human being to fit into such small categories. You are not meant to cram yourself into such a small space.

Allow yourself to flourish and explore all the possibilities of who you are as a person, not just two bland options.

It’s Not Reality

Ultimately an all-or-nothing mentality does not properly reflect reality. Nearly nothing in life is constrained to the extreme of always and never or perfect and horrible. When you live in these extremes you are creating a distorted view of reality. You are clouding your vision.

You can create a reality in which you are always walking round with a rain cloud over your head or you’re wearing the rose-colored glasses. In either case, you are not getting the clear picture of what the world is actually like.

That’s me!

If you find that you are resonating and identifying as having an all-or-nothing thinking mentality, you have just accomplished the first step.

Being able to consciously recognize that you are engaging in this type of behavior is a critical step in starting the process of change. Congrats, it won’t be long until you never engage in this behavior again!

Watch My Related Videos:

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Conquering Unhealthy Mindsets
The Ultimate Guide To Discovering And Creating A New You
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