All or Nothing Thought

All or nothing thought

Do you find yourself dwelling on small mistakes? Do you brush up on positive feedback to include a single negative review? If so, you may be guilty of all-or-nothing thinking. The human brain has a negativity bias – that is, we give more weight to negative experiences and interactions than positive ones. Learn more about all or nothing thinking and how to stop it in its tracks.

What is the all-or-nothing thinking?

All or nothing thinking is one of the most common cognitive distortions. Cognitive distortion is a faulty thought pattern that makes us more prone to negative thoughts and consequences. This type of thinking makes us forget to challenge our thought processes and look for evidence to the contrary or alternative solutions. While there are many types of cognitive distortions, nearly everyone has experienced all-or-nothing thinking. All-or-nothing thinking is a negative emotion that polarizes situations, experiences, choices, and people. thinking model. Also known as black-and-white thinking, this thought process leads people to put everything in their "good" and "bad" boxes. This mindset leaves no room for balanced perspectives and often ignores conflicting or ambiguous information. All-or-nothing thinking is especially common among perfectionists. When you give in to this kind of thinking, you're actually saying you only have two choices: success or failure.

Let's look at some examples of how all-or-nothing thinking affects your health:

A client has anxiety and depression and is seeing a therapist. He feels good most of the time, but sometimes he starts to feel down or exhausted. When this happens, it can be difficult to do everyday chores like cooking, doing the laundry or washing the dishes. It's all he can do to go to work and get back to bed. When things start to go wrong, the client looks in horror at the laundry and dirty dishes. “Who would let himself live like this?” he asks. "After all the money spent on therapy, I can't even clean myself up."

Each of these examples has a trigger – whether it's dirty dishes, a past mistake, or a missed bus. And in any case, the person status makes some sense about one's own worth or worth as a person. This elevates things from a difficult situation to a personal crisis.

What is the effect of all or nothing thinking?

All or nothing thought is a subtle voice in the brain. Their messages can often feel real. We tend to believe negative thoughts because we have evidence. The evidence is right there - if we were better, we would avoid the situation we find ourselves in. This type of mental filtering can destroy our confidence, self-efficacy, and problem-solving ability.

Here are some ways that all-or-nothing thinking affects us:

  • Decreased confidence and self-esteem
  • Less willingness to take risks
  • feeling unsuccessful
  • fear of asking for help
  • Inability to find a solution or middle ground
  • Lack of self-compassion
  • less flexibility
  • inability to forgive yourself
  • Symptoms of all or nothing thinking

To overcome all or nothing patterns, you must learn to recognize them. Here are some indications that you might spend a little more time in the gray area:

  • You often use words like “always”, “never”, “should” and “shouldn’t”.
  • You have trouble seeing the positives in a situation
  • Even with potential opportunities, you often look at the downside
  • You don't try something you're not sure you can do perfectly.
  • If you're having trouble getting positive or constructive feedback
  • Small mistakes can make you feel like a complete failure.

If you think you're noticing these trends, it's worth learning how to change the way you think about situations in your life. Overcoming all-or-nothing thinking can help boost your self-esteem and cognitive flexibility. Learning to reframe distorted thoughts is an important skill taught in cognitive behavioral therapy. It helps you identify self-criticism and evaluate the accuracy of these thoughts.