All or Nothing

- POSTED ON: Mar 12, 2012


Rigid thinking, or all-or-nothing thinking
is when you think you're either perfect or a failure,
fantastic, or a loser, on a diet or off a diet.

An example of rigid thinking
with regards to our eating behaviors is:
"What the heck, I've ruined it anyway".

This is the thinking that causes us
to throw all caution to the wind,
and choose to eat whatever, whenever,
and however much we like.

While telling ourselves we'll start again,
…maybe even on a new and different diet plan...
later, tomorrow, or perhaps on Monday,
or perhaps at the beginning of next month.

When the winds blow, a willow sways with them,
while an oak remains still
When a powerful wind comes along,
the willow can bend with the wind and survive it,
but the oak cannot bend,
and so if the wind is strong enough, it will break.

When our thoughts are rigid, just like a stiff tree,
we can easily break. "There goes my diet for today"
Contrast that to an open and flexible attitude,
a middle way, a grey area, which is the place
between eating the whole thing or nothing.

This middle way is: "it's not completely ruined".
The best way to keep ourselves from giving up
when we've taken a misstep,
is to draw our awareness to that middle way,
and be flexible in our thinking.
A partial failure is not a total failure.

If I spilled a bit of food onto a favorite dress I was wearing,
taking care of that mishap right away,
as soon as possible, could salvage my dress.

But if I think "Well, it's ruined anyway",
I'm less likely to get the stain out before it sets.
Even with that rigid mindset.
.......with regards to the spilt food misstep,..... 
I'd be unlikely  to react 
by choosing to immediately
dump the rest of my plate's contents on my dress.

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Existing Comments:

On Mar 12, 2012 Eileen7316 wrote:
This is very good! Makes me think a bit differently...

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Eileen, Thank you.

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
I love this analogy.

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             lollylag, I'm pleased to hear that. <3

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
How appropos. I'm just looking at the book Willpower: Rediscovering the Greatest Human Strength. I hope I'm not repeating anything from any relatively recent book discussions, but the chapter on dieting cites the work of Herman and Mack in 1975(!) describing what they later called the "what-the-hell" effect. Dieters were brought in for an experiment that they didn't know had anything to do with examining food consumption. One group was given milkshakes to drink. (One wonders why the dieters even agreed to this.) The other wasn't. Then they were all asked to fill out unrelated questionnaires in the same room with plenty of snack foods. The subjects who had drunk the milkshakes ate more of the snack foods than the ones who hadn't! This actually dovetails with what I had noticed about myself before my turnaround two years ago. I always wanted to binge when I was already full. I almost never went from really hungry to stuffed. The researchers did more work and said they thought it was because when the dieters have a set idea in their minds about a limit and then exceed the limit, they classify the experience as a failure and don't differentiate between big and small failures. So they go, so to speak, whole hog. Plus, if they are in situations where they don't have a good way of keeping track of what they've eaten, they are terrible at estimating it. In my opinion, it starts that way and then the experience gets wired in so that the thoughts don't even have to be there. The person pairs the feeling of being a little too full with then getting stuffed so once the switch is flipped, the autopilot comes on. And reversible.

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
             Thank you, oolala, I recently read that book myself, and found it quite enjoyable. I've been thinking quite a lot about willpower and habits, and what I might do to incorporate more positives into my eating structure.

On Mar 12, 2012 Dr. Collins wrote:
My last comment I accidentally truncated. I meant to say the habit is reversible.

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