Helpful Tips For Ditching Your All-or-nothing Mindset

So many times I have been stuck in the mindset of doing something all the way or not doing it at all. It felt impossible to do something halfway. Even just trying my best wasn’t enough… if it wasn’t perfect, I didn’t want it. Talk about perfectionism! 

Maybe you’ve had similar feelings at work or regarding your goals. The thought of “If I can’t work out every day what’s even the point?” Or “I missed one blog post so I messed up my entire content schedule.” Having an all-or-nothing mindset is really constricting! 

On the surface, doing something all the way or doing something “right” doesn’t seem so bad. However, when you get caught up in perfectionism and realize that you’re unable to do ANYTHING without the added stress, it really hinders you. 

If you have felt this way before (or you feel that way right now) keep reading to get all the mindset tips you need to ditch the all-or-nothing thinking.

What is an all-or-nothing mindset?

An all-or-nothing mindset is when you view the world from two extremes: everything is positive or everything is negative. 

If you have an all-or-nothing mindset you probably see the world in black or white. Something is either good or bad. You can either do something perfectly or you can do it badly. There is no in-between.

This negative thinking pattern is often seen in perfectionists and people struggling with anxiety/depression but of course, anyone can be stuck in the all-or-nothing thinking trap.

Some signs you may have an all-or-nothing mindset

You give up easily – you might not see the point in trying if you feel like you’ll just fail.

Often expect the worst – since things are black or white you may assume something will fail. For example, you might be planning a party and assume everything will go wrong, no one will have fun, and stress about all the possible negative outcomes. 

You’re a perfectionist – if you have to do everything perfectly and you struggle with making mistakes, this might be why.

You make broad generalizations – you might use words like “always,” “everyone,” or “never” when talking about things. “I can never do anything right.” “You never ask how my day was.”

Why your mindset matters 

The way you think really shapes your world. 

If you focus on the negatives all the time that is what will continue to happen.

Generally when you focus on the bad things your attitude is negative. Negative people attract other negative people. Being upset and grumpy can cause other people to act the same around you which you may attribute to just how the world is when in reality it’s a reaction to YOU. 

The way you think shapes your views, actions, and moods.

Therefore, it’s pretty important to not focus on all the negatives and only see Life in black and white. 

The world is full of color and no situation is ever just good or bad. Having a mindset that allows for questions and curiosity creates further growth. Practicing empathy allows you to see more sides to a problem.

Your mindset can make the difference between living a happy life or not.

Person holding a light bulb in their hand. Background is blue to pink gradient

Reasons to ditch an all-or-nothing mindset

If what we’ve chatted about so far hasn’t convinced to you change your mindset, here are some other reasons:

It stops you from trying 

How sad would your life be if you never tried? Think of all the things you will miss out on if you just threw the towel in before it even started. 

Example: you get a new job opportunity at work but in the past, you got some negative feedback from your boss. Now you think you’re a horrible worker who couldn’t possibly handle more work. You don’t take the chance on the job opportunity and you stay in your position instead, unhappy, and without a pay raise.

You are more anxious and worried 

Thinking in extremes can make you worry about the possible failures you may experience. That is simply no way to live. 

Example: you are going to a party your friend invited you to but end up talking yourself out of it because “no one ever talks to you at parties.” You get so anxious that no one will talk to you so you cancel.

It causes strain on relationships

Having an all-or-nothing mindset can make you see relationship dynamics in an unrealistic way or create problems that don’t really exist.

Example: your partner gets home from a rough day at work and just immediately heads to the bathroom to have a shower without really saying anything to you. This upsets you and you storm into the bathroom saying “You never say hello to me when you get home” which causes an argument.

It can change the way you perceive yourself

When you are stuck in all-or-nothing thinking you are basing yourself off of extremes. You are either amazing or you are the worst. 

Example: you are scrolling through Instagram and see a beautiful photo of a fitness model. You immediately start thinking “I don’t look like this so I’m ugly.”

Tips for changing your mindset 

The amazing thing about our brains is that we can influence and change our thoughts. 

If you are stuck in one way of thinking, you can change it! It may take some work but it is possible. 

1 – question yourself when you are stuck in the extremes 

Being curious and asking yourself questions when you start thinking a certain thing is a powerful way to challenge your thoughts. 

When you start saying things in extremes (I never, you always, everything is, etc) stop yourself and ask yourself if that is really true. 

Do you ALWAYS fail? Think about any good things you’ve done. Do you NEVER feel happy? Think about times you’ve felt happy.

2 – journal your thoughts and feelings 

Spend some time every day journaling about your day/things you are worried about/etc. 

When you come across times of all-or-nothing thinking in your journal spend time exploring WHY you feel that way. 

Why do you feel no one likes you? Has something happened recently to make you feel that? Do you struggle to make friends? Dig deep into some of these all-or-nothing thoughts. 

Related read: The Benefits Of Journaling And How To Start A Journal Practice

3 – practice positive affirmations 

I love affirmations because you can say anything you want and trick your brain into believing it! 

Depending on what you typically think, you can tailor these affirmations to work for you. 

Try affirmations like:

  • Good things happen to me
  • I am able to make changes 
  • It’s okay if I don’t do things perfectly 
  • I can always try again 
  • Everyone makes mistakes 

Related read: 31 Days Of Love: A Month Of Self-Love Affirmations

4 – using “yes, but” 

This is another way to challenge your thoughts when you start generalizing and thinking in extremes.

Try saying something like “Yes, I didn’t get an A on the test, but I did get good grades on the other projects.”

Statements like this allow you to acknowledge the negative thing that happened but also proves it’s not always the case.

5 – plan for the bad times

You can never escape bad things in life. However, it’s important to not let those times completely derail you. If you can plan for the bad times you will be able to handle them so much better.

If you want to start a business but you are convinced you’ll mess it all up and then have no money and end up living on the streets (hello spiral thinking), try this! 

Create a list of some reasonable things that could go wrong and then plan for them. Create solutions. 

Yeah, you might struggle to make enough money when you start a business but you can always get a job again.

You might not know a lot of information about bookkeeping but you can take a course or hire someone to help!

6 – try to identify your triggers 

When do you tend to spiral out of control and focus on the extremes? When you get flustered and upset and start all-or-nothing thinking?

Try to narrow those times or situations down and give yourself extra love and support. 

Using affirmations, giving yourself extra time to do tasks, or talking to someone about your thoughts can be so helpful!

How to stop all or nothing thinking
tips for ditching your all or nothing mindset

In conclusion

All-or-nothing thinking can really suck the life out of you and the people around you. It can lead to more negativity and ultimately, less success in life. 

If you tend to focus on the extremes or make broad generalizations when you feel upset or anxious, it’s okay! We all do it from time to time. There have been several times when I’ve tried on seemingly all of my clothes just to say, “Nothing ever looks good on me.” This statement is obviously not true but hey, sometimes when you get upset it feels true. 

Focusing on the tips above can help you change your mindset. 

Changing your mindset is key to developing healthy thinking patterns and it allows you to grow as a person. I’m sure you’ve heard of the growth mindset – that’s the goal! 

Keep working hard on your goals and don’t let your negative thoughts hold you back. I believe in you ♥

Have you ever experienced all-or-nothing thinking?

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