Now, I am not a therapist by any means, but this is a style of thinking that I often see with clients. It’s in fact a negative thought process. People who tend to think this way, tend to split their views into extremes; like black or white thinking. There is no grey area. If you are wondering if you are an all or nothing thinker or at least do on occasion, you may use terms like “never” or “ever”.
When we tend to think this way, we may have a hard time seeing any solutions. An example of this would be, if you indulged yourself at a meal and felt that you have over-eaten even just slightly, you could tell yourself that you’ve ruined your diet and mine as well continue to over-indulge! And that you’d restart everything tomorrow. Have you ever said this to yourself? This is a common way of thinking when one is “trying to be good” (another common phrase I hear quite often). Unfortunately, when this happens, we have a tendency to then think that we’ve failed. When in fact, we haven’t failed at all. It was our way of thinking that failed us.
Another outcome could be to accept that you indulged at that meal and that that’s OK. Because you know what? It is! I know, I know, it’s easier said than done. However, like talking more positively to yourself, over time you will believe it and it will come more naturally.
Some common tips on how to overcome this is to start to find some grey area – no more black or white. Maybe instead of always thinking about things in a negative way, i.e. “I cheated on my diet”, we can start to look at things in a more realistic way, i.e. “I wanted some chocolate, so I ate it and that’s ok”.
Other options are to try and avoid using words like “never” or “ever”. An example would be instead of saying “I’m never allowed to eat sugars”, maybe be more realistic and say “I’m allowed to enjoy foods with sugars, because it’s ok”. Another option would be to try and find the positive in the situation. Or even another option would be if you find yourself back in the all or nothing/black or white way of thinking, try to catch yourself and see if there is any grey area that can be seen?
Lastly, support like seeing a therapist, or even a registered dietitian can help you overcome this way of thinking. A good support network like friends and family can help you.
Let’s start seeing less black and white and start seeing a little more grey in our lives!
I work as a Dietitian and definitely walk the talk. I love to cook and help people get back to being healthy again.