(This is a follow up post to my recent post Letting Go of All-or-Nothing Thinking.)
All or Nothing thinking says, “You either do this perfectly, or you don’t even bother.” It’s one of the biggest blocks to making positive changes in your life. It’s one of the biggest blocks to making your life work at all.
Here are a few little things I have learned to do to train myself to let go of All-or-Nothing Thinking:
1 – Climb back on the wagon but make the horses go slow.
Let’s talk about this in terms of exercising first. After all, this is the time of year all of those New Year’s Resolution Exercisers are no longer making it to the gym. Don’t be one of them!
Let’s say you had to go on a business trip, and it was cold because you were in Buffalo. (And there was like, 462 inches of snow on the ground.) Let’s say it has been a whole week since you exercised. And now you’re disappointed because you were doing “SO WELL!!!!”
The very best way to get over the unproductive thoughts that tell you there’s no use in trying now because you’ve ruined everything is to start by being really nice to yourself. Go to the gym, but only do a small work out. If you do the elliptical, just do half of your normal time. If you lift weights, cut the weight down, and do two sets instead of three. Then, leave the gym and be really proud of yourself. Be very kind. Then, when you return the next day, build on the previous day’s work just a little.
This practice has kept me exercising regularly for three years now. Working out is a habit. It’s something I love. AND I’ve missed a week here and there because of travel or because I’ve gotten a cold. I’m always really gentle when I return.
The theory behind this is that you want to teach yourself to look forward to going to the gym. You can’t teach yourself by making yourself miserable. You know how to have a good work out. And you’ll get back to that level. For now, teach yourself how to make the practice of exercise into a habit.
Same thing applies to Law of Attraction and changing thought patterns. Let’s say you went on a pity binge, or a blame binge or a drama binge. Maybe you even catch yourself in the middle of it. Now, if you’re an All-or-Nothing thinker, it’s SO tempting to fall prey to the voice that says, “Look at you. You can’t do this stuff. No one else goes to these bad places. You’re a born drama queen and you’ll never change your thoughts.” But here’s the cool thing: that voice isn’t true. It wants you to believe it’s true because it’s fighting for survival. You, however, have the ultimate weapon: choice.
So here’s what you do: Choose to make it your goal to feel a little bit better. Remember, it’s about training yourself into new habits. You want this to be fun. So, sit quietly and breathe for a little bit. Then just let yourself daydream. But focus only on your vision or on your affirmation or on what you want. Just a little piece of it. If you feel yourself moving into the big visualizations and that feels right, then go with it. But if you don’t, and if your All-or-Nothing mindset is dolling out F’s and prison sentences, just try to quietly think of one small thing that is inspiring about your vision or your goal.
Or spend five minutes laying in bed being grateful. Be grateful for the bed first. Be grateful for your cat. Be grateful for warmth. The smallest amount of gratitude can move you into the slightest bit better space. And that’s all you have to do when you’re first climbing back on the wagon. Find the slightest bit of better space. You’ll get back to those big affirmations and great attractions soon enough. You just have to know that you’re working your way back there.
2 – If your wagon has a seatbelt, fasten it.
(Okay, I got the wagon metaphor going. Just work with me here.)
This is also called “Recommit Yourself.” Once you are out of the acute stages of the setback, and you’ve taken small steps towards feeling better or moving back towards your vision, then commit yourself again to that vision. Have a ceremony. Say a prayer. Say yes again. Add an image to your vision board. Just make sure you remember that you have a goal, you’ve set an intent, and that you know you’re working towards it. This step is important even if it feels forced. It trains you to recognize that everything is a choice. The All-or-Nothing Voices want you to believe that everything happens TO you. That you are a victim. This step takes back the responsibility (and leaves the “fault” behind) by reconnecting you to your power to choose again.
3 – Make sure the whiney voices don’t get the reins.
This is about shrinking the parts of you that create All-or-Nothing situations in the first place.
One of the practices I have created for myself is to not call people the instant I am in the bad place. Now, this is not to say that I don’t reach out to people, or that I don’t help friends in need. I do. But choosing NOT to call people with my drama, however, has been a great learning experience for me.
I know that some of us have deep emotions. I’m not trying to diminish that. I do, however, want to offer you the option of not giving so much weight to all of those emotions. For instance, I know that if I call someone and talk about the whiney stuff in my head, all I’m doing is expanding it. I’m focusing on it.
Now, I wait it out a little. I don’t give it all the attention it is used to getting. I’m clear that I don’t want to put that energy out there. If I can move into a better place, and I still need to talk about it, then I call someone when I can talk about it objectively. This trains the emotional stuff to shrink a little bit. It trains the drama to learn that it can sit in the back seat, and that someone else has taken the reins. Emotions can be great guides, but they are mostly terrible drivers.
This might sound like radical advice, especially for those of you who rely on 12-step models of support. Follow this one only if it clicks. If it clicks for you, then that’s great. Try it.
4 – Get in a wagon train. (Okay, even I’m rolling my eyes now.)
Find a support group. Take a workshop. A weekly meeting of some kind can do wonders for putting you back on track, and for reminding you that you can get back on track. I’m lucky to live in a place that has lots of resources for this kind of thing. If you don’t have access to this kind of activity, start a group yourself. Start a Law of Attraction group. Or find one. Or get a partner. We all need support in this work. We all need someone to say, “I know you can do this.” Or “I support you in this.” Or “Yay! You went to the gym!”
Monday night was the final night of a seven week course I had taken. It was a course called “Creative Mind.” (Taught by Barbara Waterhouse, an amazing teacher and mentor to me.) Everyone in the class got a chance to speak about their own progress throughout the seven weeks. I was amazed at how vibrant each person was after the two hours was over. Each person’s commitment to his/her own growth was motivation for everyone else. There are many people like you out there. Just knowing that can help you along on your way as your trusty wagon rolls off into the western horizon and a cowboy off in the distance sings Red River Valley…