Patrick's Corner

All or Nothing Thinking

all or nothing

Either it's all good or it's all bad. Either we're right... OR WE'RE TOTALLY WRONG! It's an extreme point of view and these extreme point of views don't do us any favors in the long run. In fact, they keep us miserable.

Think of it this way, if somebody put impossible expectations on you at work, and said if you don't fulfill these, you're fired, what would you think? Wow that person is a real jerk. But for some reason we're perfectly fine putting these expectations on ourselves and saying if we don't fulfill them, we're awful and horrible and we're fired from our own lives.

This is done in politics a lot. Either you're with us or you're against us. Either you're one of the good guys or one of the bad guys. People do this a lot to each other, especially toxic people. A wise man once said, "Only a Sith deals in absolutes." Well, that saying applies here. Absolutes are not something that you want to deal with if you want to remain healthy and happy. If you find yourself thinking like this, try to find some gray area. Try to find nuance. Life is nuanced. Life is never all or nothing.



When we talk about overgeneralizing, we usually talk about overgeneralizing others based on things like race, socioeconomic status, educational level, etc. But, it is easy to fall into the trap of overgeneralizing ourselves too. I do this a lot.

I would say to myself, how am I ever going to help people if I can't help myself? How am I ever going to help people if I get short with my family? But this was inaccurate and, like all of these thinking errors, was horribly one sided. With this type of thinking, there is no room to make mistakes because you will just keep going back to, "Well, that mistake was awful, therefore I'm awful, and therefore the world is awful."

You don't want to go through life overgeneralizing. If it's not ok to do to other people, then it's not ok to do to ourselves. You have to find one or two instances when things were different and you can beat overgeneralizing's butt!

Here is a video that can help bring home the concepts of All or Nothing Thinking and Catastrophizing

Click on a link to learn more
Mental Filter & Disqualifying the Positive
Jumping to Conclusions & Magnification / Minimization
Emotional Reasoning & Shoulds
Labeling & Personalization
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This site is for educational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you believe you need more help, please seek counseling with a qualified professional counselor.