All or Nothing Mentality

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Do you find yourself taking on tasks with the “all or nothing” approach? This mentality is a common one we find our brains default to when we are making decisions. I heard about this mentality on a podcast called Biceps After Babies by Amber Brueseke and it really opened my eyes to the decisions I was making in many areas of life. I encourage you to listen to the podcast, but I’ve discussed some of the main points below.

When we are making decisions – whether it is related to our eating choices, exercising, tasks to complete in our job, or even house work – our brain tends to have a binary way of thinking. This is what we call the all or nothing mentality. Either I can eat 12 donuts, or I can’t have any donuts. Either I can exercise for 30 minutes, or I can’t exercise at all. It is the thought that I must do it ALL, giving 100%, or if I don’t have time to do it all or can’t do it all then I’m skipping it. The reality is, this type of thinking is no good for our mental health. It often leads to feeling upset with ourselves because we aren’t accomplishing what we want to accomplish. There is a middle ground, we just have to rewire our brains and be honest with ourselves.

The first step is to redefine what ALL means. Maybe you set a goal to exercise 5 days a week. You find yourself unable to exercise on day 2, day 3, and so you don’t even bother with days 4 or 5 because you’ll just start over next week. The key here is to reevaluate your goal. Maybe a goal of exercising 5 days a week is unrealistic for your schedule. Reevaluate, and change your goal for the next week. Giving up will not get you anywhere. We just need to get the momentum going! When we choose to just do it, whether it’s dedicating 10 minutes to picking up the house or 10 minutes of going for a walk, it is better than nothing at all and it gives us the mental satisfaction that we accomplished something, rather than the disappointment that we did nothing.

Amber suggests us to default our brains when we find we can’t do the “all” we were hoping for. A better mindset is to consciously default to a Good, Better, and Best mentality. If I can’t do it ALL, what would be a good choice, a better choice, and the best choice? For example, your work is having an ice cream party. You have been so good all week, but you don’t want to not eat the ice cream. So, think what is a good option, a better option, and the best option for your situation. Also think how you want to feel afterwards. We want to remove the guilt and the best way to do that is to consciously make a decision rather than just giving up and going rogue. So, a good option might be, ‘I’m going to have the ice cream with all the toppings’, a better option might be ‘I’m going to have one scoop of ice cream with some toppings’, and the best option might be ‘I’m going to have one scoop of ice cream with fresh fruit’. You choose what decision works best for you in that moment. Perhaps you’ve been doing really great and you are ready for a treat, so you say I’m going to choose the good option because I want it, but I’m not going to let it mess up the rest of my day.

Overall, the more you can take ownership of this process the better! These are choices YOU get to make. YOU are the one in control, and you need to recognize that it always comes back down to you making the choice. It does not have to be an all or nothing, you can have your cake and feel good too! We just need to neutralize these choices and decide what’s most important for us.

For more information, check out the Biceps After Babies podcast or contact Sydney Knowles at 910-592-7161.