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All-or-nothing thinking

All-or-nothing thinking is very common among high-achieving perfectionists. We often see things as fully a success or failure, good or bad, black or white. We tend to see and label things as fully one thing or another. We often think if something is happening or we are experiencing something, it will always be that way.

Another way this shows up is going either “all in” on something or “doing nothing” at all – and we often have a hard time recognizing that there is a middle ground approach between these two extremes. So for instance, we might go all-in on a diet and have very rigid rules and berate ourselves when we cheat, which often leads us to eventually give up entirely the diet because the standards we’ve established are impossible to maintain. As opposed to approaching nutrition in a more fluid way with flexible rules that are more sustainable – that kind of complexity and ambiguity is often hard for us.

We also have a hard time recognizing that something can be two things at the same time – something can be part success or part failure. Often, when there’s any part of something that is a failure for perfectionists, our tendency toward extreme perspectives leads us to feel like the whole thing was a failure – and we are extremely harsh on ourselves as a result.

But the good news is that, with a willingness to challenge our deeply-held assumptions, with intentionally practicing applying a different perspective to our everyday lives, we can change. We can start to see that there are many valid outcomes and approaches between “good” and “bad”, “success” and “failure” – and something can be both simultaneously. And when we start to integrate this thinking into our everyday lives, we start to experience relief, self-compassion, and a sense of peace. Our curiosity about the world around us increases, we connect more to our sense of creativity, and we tune into the subtle and good things all around us. We start seeing "negative" outcomes for what they are: part bad, part good, part a lot of everything in between – and we stop beating ourselves up along the way.

It would be a joy to help you connect with this new way of seeing the world, of being in it.

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