How All-or-Nothing Thinking Affects Your Brain

This article was published on: 01/28/22 12:13 PM

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Are you an all-or-nothing thinker? Come on, be honest. Many of us are and we don’t even realize it. I’m also guessing you don’t realize the affects of all-or-nothing thinking and how it damages your brain

What is All-or-Nothing Thinking

Have you ever choked up in an interview, stumbled over your lines in a play, or missed a chance to speak up for yourself?

I know I have.

Your self-esteem can take a little dip when your actions don’t meet your expectations. And if you feel like you have failed in a BIG way, you can feel crushed.

It’s hard to recover from that kind of blow. Often, if our expectations have not been met, our self esteem suffers.

And over time so does our brain health.

effects of all-or-nothing thinking

Why All-or-Nothing Thinking Damages Your Brain

So what can we do differently to prevent this from happening?

Ask yourself better questions!

Asking better questions helps you meet your expectations.

Asking yourself, “Gee, this isn’t working anymore. How can I change to this so I can
prosper in my life?” will get you thinking more creatively than bemoaning how and why you feel so badly.

Why is this important?

Because you must detach yourself from the idea – if you have it – that your self worth is measured by ONE aspect of your life, like money, career, looks or accomplishments.

The lesson here is that you don’t want to link your self-esteem to any one ability but rather to your life as a whole. Viewing your self-esteem in this way protects you and especially your brain health.

As billionaire businesswoman Oprah Winfrey says, “Be thankful for what you have;
you’ll end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

How to Protect Your Brain Health During Tough Times

In The Power of Positive Thinking, Norman Vincent Peale says: “The blows of life,
the accumulation of difficulties, the multiplication of problems tend to sap energy and leave you spent and discouraged. It is easy to lose track of your abilities and powers” – but by re-appraising your personal assets, you can convince yourself that “you are less defeated than you think you are.”

If you practice ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING (which we all do on occasion) then Peale has a good idea for you.

When your self-esteem has suffered a blow, take a piece of paper and write down what you DO HAVE that you feel good about.

Your list might include:

  • a wonderful spouse or partner
  • children who are thriving and healthy
  • devoted friends who are there for you
  • good physical health
  • integrity
  • work that you enjoy
  • hobbies you’re passionate about

Not bad right?

Make your own list right now! No need to let the affects of all-or-nothing thinking get the best of you!

If you have trouble making a list, try this.

Imagine yourself as an observer at your own funeral. Surely you wouldn’t want to hear your spouse, your children, your friends and colleagues say things like, “She was never able to enjoy all the good things she had during her life.”

Think about what you would like them to say about you. Those are the things that really matter – positive personal assets that you don’t lose just because times are tough.

If you’re feeling down, focusing on those positive personal assets will help you overcome the worst feelings you could possibly have about yourself. And no matter what happens in your life, you won’t despair. You’ll be able to use all your natural resources to regroup any time you need to.

Always remember that one of the best ways to feel better about yourself, to feel as though you have purpose in your life, is to pursue something you’re passionate

Final Thoughts

In the pursuit of improving your self-esteem leading to a happy and healthy brain, I have a fun word to share with you. Lagniappe (lan-YAP) – is an unexpected or indirect
benefit. So this week look for unexpected or indirect benefits and may your LAGNIAPPES be many!

If you feel stuck and need additional support to adopt a new healthy habit or routine, consider working with me. We can partner up in setting goals, drawing on your skills and strengths, and implementing strategies to help you find your way to lasting healthy success.

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For over 15 years, Shelli has been a freelance writer and wellness coach on Joyinmovement. She writes about brain fitness, creating a healthy lifestyle, traveling the world, and making positive habits stick. Stop procrastinating! Take action, join her free newsletter.



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