How to change your ALL or NOTHING approach!

Do you find yourself saying you had a ‘good day’ or ‘bad day’, ‘a good week’ or a rubbish week’? Do you not want to start something because you don’t want to do it half-heartedly or don’t want to fail? Do you have a little bit of a black-and-white, all-or-nothing approach to life? 

Watch the video or read on to find out why this is not the best approach and what you can do to change it…

This approach, where you don’t see any grey areas, can be a skewed way of thinking. Seeing things just in black and white can cause some obvious problems:

  • it can hold you back from you from doing things,
  • it can prevent you from finding out more about yourself or other people,
  • it can stop you from exploring new experiences in life. 

Worrying that you’re not going to complete something to the best of your ability, or to a standard that you would like, is a waste of time and energy that causes extra stress in your life. When you have this black and white approach you can only see two outcomes: perfection, where things go brilliantly and are amazing, or failure, where things go terribly, and you don’t achieve your goal. There’s no grey area in-between and so if there’s any chance you won’t hit perfection, you default to ‘let’s not do it at all’.

This can lead to anxiety, depression, and stress; the all-or-nothing approach is quite a common feature of those who suffer in these areas. When there’s no room for error in the things that you do, you don’t see any progress and you can’t envisage getting to the end goal you desire. This can be really disheartening and stressful. 

An all-or-nothing approach is actually a form of self-sabotage. It comes from deep-rooted beliefs inside you that you want, or feel you need, to earn approval, that you’re only valued when you reach a certain standard. And this could be a feeling you need to be valued by yourself, by other people, or possibly valued by God. You doubt that your ‘good’ is good enough and believe your ‘good’ must be perfect. This slightly skewed way if thinking is actually very common and correcting it can bring great benefits enabling us to live a fuller, healthier, more whole and free life.

So, what can we do? 

Small actions are better than nothing at all, and imperfect action can lead us forward even though it’s not perfect. We need to go let go of this all-or-nothing approach to move forward and grow. Here are 3 practical tips for doing just that:

  1. Be clear on who you are trusting. If you’re being completely honest, are your trusting yourself and your own abilities, or is it God, and everything that he gives to you? Take some time to seek out some bible verses on faith, trust, value and worth. You need to get to the point where you can separate your worth from your performance. Ask God to help you with this; pick a few Bible verses, meditate on them, and ask God to show you your worth. Remember that whether you sit and do nothing or cram a million things into your day, you have the same worth and value to God.
  2. Watch your language! Become less judgemental on yourself and on others. Be careful about your words, particularly the word ‘or’. Did you have a good or a bad day? Did you have a good week or bad week? Did you fail or succeed? Those things aren’t really either/or, black or white. You can have a mixed week. You can have a rollercoaster week, or an undulating week. I often hear people say: ‘I had a rubbish week food-wise,’ or ‘I was good yesterday’ or ‘I was bad yesterday’ when they’re talking about their food. Those phrases make me anxious for them, because there’s no such thing as a ‘good’ or ‘bad’ day, as everything will be mixed. There will be good and bad in all of it. Be conscious of how you talk about your achievements, your day, or your week; try to use language to help you see the mix of positives and challenges, using ‘and’ rather than ‘or’. Other words to watch are ‘never’ or ‘nothing’: telling yourself ‘There’s nothing I’m good at’ or ‘I could never do that’ is simply not true. Instead, try telling yourself something like ‘I haven’t been able to do that very well in the past but I’m really working on it now.’
  3. Change the way that you see mistakes. We are not products of our past mistakes. We’re products of what we’ve learned and what we’ve experienced. Anything we go through can be turned around to good and we can learn from it. So, change the way that you see mistakes: they aren’t the end of the world and they’re not failures. They are learning points that you can move on from. Consider a Snakes and Ladders board: if you go down a snake the game is only over if you throw the board away. You can very easily look for a ladder to climb up, or you can look for another snake to go down, but either way you have a choice about how we learn from mistakes and our past experiences.  

We’d love to welcome you this Saturday, 20th of November, to our virtual Reflection, Coffee and Conversation morning. Pete Brooks, one of the Fitfish team, will be sharing a few thoughts and this is an opportunity to see some other folks, new and old to Fitfish. It’s free it’s on Zoom, it’s happening at 10:00, and you can register here.



Yes!! I've had a good week


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