All or Nothing Thinking Errors
All or nothing thinking is also known as ‘black or white’ thinking in that a person with these thinking errors tends to see things in these two polar opposite terms – things are either ‘fantastic’ or ‘dire’, people either ‘love me’ or ‘hate me’ and I’m a ‘success’ or a ‘failure’.
This type of thinking can lead directly to extreme emotions and behaviours and is one of the most common thinking errors we come across in the clinic.
Examples of All or Nothing Thinking
You’re on a diet and have decided to eat more healthily. You’re doing really well for the first two weeks but on Saturday you ‘caved-in’ and ate a doughnut. All or nothing thinkers are likely to conclude the the whole diet is a complete failure and you might as well go and eat the other five doughnuts in the pack.
You’re studying for your degree and with only two modules to go to graduate you fail a module. All or nothing thinking leads you to decide the the entire idea is a bad one and that you’re just not good enough to get a degree and it’s all been a waste of time.
Managing All or Nothing Thinking
Try to see your thinking patterns more like how a thermometer works. A thermometer doesn’t indicate just ‘hot’ or ‘cold’, but instead gives you the temperature in a wide range of degrees with ‘freezing’ sitting at one end at zero degrees, ‘boiling’ at another end at one hundred degrees and then ninety eight other readings that are neither boiling or freezing!
Nobody gets through life without ever making a mistake. One doughnut doesn’t ruin a diet or mean your eat unhealthily. Refocus on your goal, forgive yourself for this minor mishap and get back onto your diet.
Develop ‘Both-And’ Thinking
All or nothing thinking excludes two opposites by definition, so try to develop the reasoning skills to accept that opposites can co-exist.
You can BOTH be on a diet AND still eat the odd doughnut.
You can BOTH get a degree AND fail a module or two along the way.
All or nothing thinking has the ability to sabotage even the best thought-out goal seeking activity as you are far more likely to quit if the slightest ‘hiccup’ is interpreted as being a ‘complete failure’.
Transform Your Beliefs & Overcome All or Nothing Thinking
If you’re committed to overcoming your all or nothing thinking style then we highly recommend following either the Thrive Programme with Paul, or the Changing Limiting Beliefs (CLB) Programme with Joan.
Both the Thrive Programme and Changing Limiting Beliefs approach are highly successful & pragmatic psychological training programmes, run over 10 sessions, that will teach you everything you need to know to understand your problem, identify how unhelpful thinking and limiting beliefs might be reinforcing the issue, and then show you how to make any changes to your unhelpful thinking styles or maladaptive safety behaviours that you may have developed as part of your coping strategies.
FREE Initial Consultations for All or Nothing Thinking
We offer all prospective clients a FREE initial assessment to chat about your ‘all or nothing’ thinking.
During this 50 minute consultation we will discuss the various options that are available to you and make a considered recommendation based on your individual personal circumstances.
At TranceForm we believe that therapy & coaching should be a collaboration between therapist and client so it’s very important to be able to meet PRIOR to agreeing any kind of help. Our policy is to help people make a fully balanced & considered decision about undertaking therapy with us, including both the financial and personal implications.