Do you often get stuck in all-or-nothing thinking?
Crave for black or white answers, with no room for grey?
Can’t help but see things in extremes?
Read this blog to learn how you can escape this mind trap.
” An old belief is like an old shoe. We so value its comfort that we fail to notice the hole in it.” ~ Robert Brault
The All-Or-Nothing Mind Trap
Thinking in extremes can stem from your brain’s craving for simplification, emotional responses, and social or cultural influences.
Bucketing things as good or bad, right or wrong, robs you of objectivity and causes you to miss out on the possibilities between the extremes. It also results in mind chatter, procrastination, stress and regret.
An undesired perception that you are narrow-minded, rigid or complex is another risk that emerges from sticking to all-or-nothing thinking.
Let me explain this further with a couple of examples.
Let’s look at the first scenario: A work promotion
Imagine you are up for a promotion at work, and there are several criteria that your manager will use to evaluate your performance.
All-or-nothing thinking might lead you to believe you cannot receive the promotion unless you meet all the requirements perfectly.
In reality, your manager may consider overall performance, areas you excel in, and those you need to improve in recommending your promotion.
Here’s a second scenario: Cleaning your home on a weekend
You might have a long list of cleaning chores to do at. Black or white thinking could make you feel like if you can’t complete every task on the list, there’s no point in starting any of them.
However, it’s more practical to break the chores into small, manageable tasks and complete them one at a time or over several days rather than expecting yourself to finish everything in one go.
And one more: Work-Life Balance
To achieve a semblance of work-life balance, you might think you must be the perfect team member, parent or spouse, giving 100% to all the roles you play at all times.
Unfortunately, extreme thinking can make you feel like a failure if you don’t achieve this unrealistic expectation.
Maintaining a healthy work-life balance requires you to accept that there will be times when you need to prioritize one part of your life over the other and that it’s okay not to be perfect in either role.
The Benefits Of Shifting Your Thinking
On the other hand, learning to move towards a balanced view, embracing ambiguity and developing a bias for action can create momentum, bring quick wins, and make you approachable and collaborative. Some more benefits are:
1. Enhanced creativity and problem-solving skills
Embracing uncertainty or the unknown can stimulate creative thinking, requiring you to think outside the box and consider multiple perspectives.
2. Greater flexibility, adaptability and experimentation
Being comfortable with uncertainty encourages you to be open to new ideas and possibilities.
3. Wisdom – complexity can open the door to higher consciousness.
Embracing ambiguity can be an opportunity for self-discovery and growth, as it challenges you to question your assumptions and expand your understanding of the world.
4. Courage, self-confidence and enthusiasm to take action
Embracing the unexpected leads to exploration and discovery. It encourages you to go into uncharted territory and take risks that may bring new insights and breakthroughs.
5. Empathy and appreciation of the multi-layered human experiences
Seeking diversity can be a practical pathway to becoming more empathetic and accepting of different perspectives.
Learn to recognize and appreciate the complexity and diversity of human experiences and build fulfilling and meaningful relationships with others.
6. Expand your capacity for pain and coping.
Build resilience by teaching yourself to endure uncertainty and adapt to changing circumstances. When you learn to accept ambiguity, you become better equipped to handle life’s very likely ups and downs.
7. Navigate complex situations and make better choices.
Improve your decision-making skills by considering multiple options and potential outcomes.
By learning to make decisions despite ambiguity, you become more confident in navigating complex situations and making informed choices.
Now those benefits are worth chasing, aren’t they?
Moving from Knowing to Doing to Being
The exciting part is that you can develop a more balanced perspective and embrace ambiguity by consistently practising the below-mentioned simple actions.
1. Call out your assumptions and fears
Be willing to challenge and consider alternative viewpoints.
2. Speak less, listen more
Take the time to listen to others and seek to understand their perspectives.
3. Seek out diversity
Expose yourself to people, cultures, and ideas different from yours.
4. Cultivate curiosity
Develop a sense of interest in learning more about the world around you.
5. Ask for feedback
Get other people’s opinions on your ideas and perspectives, and be open to constructive criticism.
6. Drop judgments and labels
Embrace people and situations without categorizing them, allowing for a more open-minded approach.
7. Explore opposing points of view
Imagine how others might perceive a situation or problem and try to see things from their perspective.
8. Let things unfold. Stop grasping
Come from a place of trust, practice optimism, believe in your ability to see through difficult situations, and accept that everything cannot be predicted or controlled.
As you take these steps toward adopting a balanced view and getting comfortable with ambiguity, may you find courage, resilience, and a renewed sense of purpose
May the world hear your incredible stories and celebrate your successes.
Points to Ponder
- What does my current style of thinking reflect about me?
- Where am I feeling stuck?
- How do people currently perceive me?
- Who do I need to seek feedback from?
- What new experiences have I been resisting?