Mindset · Women's Health

All-or-Nothing? Why Absolute Thinking Hurts

I try not to speak or think in absolutes. It’s not something that comes easy because I did but it’s something I’ve been working on over the years. It was a mentality that I embraced starting in business and managing people but quickly moved into my world as a mentor, coach, nutritionist and writer. Words like never, always, must, have to etc. are words that mean a lot and the thing is they are absolute. They leave no room for growth, new information or new knowledge, understanding or empathy. The leave little room for change.

As we grow and learn and change, things that we thought were fact can shift. Things that we thought were gospel can change.

This can be in any area of life including work, love, family planning, fashion, health, nutrition, fitness, weight loss but also humanity and prejudices. Most often the way of thinking that leads us to think in absolutes goes hand in hand with extremes. That all-or-nothing mentality.

I’ve been there before especially when it comes to nutrition. As a holistic nutritionist we are trained to think in terms of good food and bad food choices. There is a lot of eat this and don’t eat that. Thoughts like sugar is bad, dairy is bad, gluten is bad, packaged food is bad and so on. Also consider all the extreme diets out there. My early experiences with bodybuilding had me thinking salt was bad, fat and carbs were potentially bad unless eaten at certain times, protein was good. That chicken and tilapia were good but beef was bad. Or even thoughts like morning cardio must be done fasted, or you always need to drink a protein shake after weightlifting. Or squats are good or squats are bad (lol). These thoughts are misleading and too extreme. They can be proven otherwise spending on all the criteria.

There is value in knowing that some foods may be better for you nutrient wise and maybe digestion wise but the reality is nothing is always inherently bad just like nothing is always good. You can say the same about specific exercises or ways of motivating people or getting results or losing weight. Get what I’m saying?

The problem lies in extremes.We gravitate to this thinking because it allows us to feel like we have all the knowledge but can’t have it all figured out because the science, information and knowledge is ever evolving.  What happens when we are using words like never and always is we are constantly butting up against contradictions of our all or nothing thought process. This is hard to swallow. Day in day out what you are saying and thinking are potentially incorrect. What we thought was always turns out to be maybe not or sometimes or for some people. If you come from the mindset of being interested in the why you are able to better understand the rest.

Isn’t it true that the more we know the more we realize we don’t know. Let’s move away from all or nothing and keep our minds open to all possibilities. Be curious. Be empathetic. Be understanding. Be open. Be accepting. Be interested.

Next time you think in absolutes, stop yourself and say this

“What if I don’t?”
“What if I do?”

What if he doesn’t?”
“What is she does?”

“What if it doesn’t?”
“What if it does?”

One of my friends shared this clip with me. It’s perfect.

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