"It's never easy."
"Nothing ever works out the way I want it to."
"I never say the right thing."
"I never get a break."
Does any of that sound familiar? Maybe you say it and don't realize it. These phrases are examples of all or nothing negative thought process, a type of cognitive distortion, that's been established through lifelong patterns and habits. When we are in the mode of all or nothing thinking, we're evaluating life in extremes. Everything is either perfect or a disaster. We are either a total failure or a total success. Everything is viewed in black and white, with little, to no room for, gray.
All or nothing thinking is one of the most common forms of cognitive distortion. It's linked to increased stress, anxiety and depression. When stress is higher than normal, anxiety is through the roof, or depression has taken hold, we can only see the downside to any situation. The negative thought loops render us unable to see any alternatives or possible solutions to a problem.
Can you recognize when all or nothing thinking shows up for you? I've consciously worked on reducing my anxiety and stress. All or nothing thinking will still knock on my door, but now I move quicker toward seeing alternative solutions. Most importantly, I don't beat myself up when all or nothing thinking shows up. I acknowledge it as a sign that I'm in a higher state of stress or anxiety and turn to my toolkit to move myself to a more peaceful state.
Next week we'll look at what experts are saying about all or nothing thinking.
Be kind with yourself. You are learning and growing. Change is a series of baby steps. Change is Living Bravely.
This is part 1 of a 3-part series on All or Nothing Thinking.
Curious about how All or Nothing Thinking is keeping you from attaining your goals?