Thursday 4 August 2016

Being All or Nothing

I can't remember if I have ever been anything other than an all or nothing person. It's a huge part of who I am and my personality, and it's also something which I think makes me a little bit different to other people. I wouldn't say it's something that I particularly like about myself though as it can be very problematic. In fact I would even go as far to say that it's the one thing about myself which makes me my own worst enemy and limits my levels of success. 

I had never considered this side of my personality really problematic until I took part in CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) and I gained an understanding about how all or nothing thinking can be so damaging in our lives. The more I thought about it the more I wished I could find more of a healthy balance in my life.   


If you are a good friend of mine I am probably the best and most caring friend you have ever had. I am reliable, trustworthy and honest and I will always be there for you. 

Unless of course you cross me. 

There have been numerous situations in my past where I have formed really great friendships with people and for one reason or another they have not lasted. I admit I find it difficult to be a good friend to someone or take part in a "friendship" if I feel that the other person doesn't care as much as I do. If I am not treated in the way I treat others I unfortunately take it very personally and upset myself to a point where I often can't be bothered to continue with the friendship anymore. 

To be fair to myself in the majority of these situations I was made to feel shit by another person so it's kind of understandable if I didn't want to be friends with them anymore. But I can't deny that my all of nothing personality had a part to play in this. The way I see it is you're either my friend or you're not. It's quite straight forward but it can result in me not being very forgiving or able to move past problems should they arise.   


My relationship with food has been problematic from as far back as I can remember. I recall during infant school having to eat my lunch in the head teachers office so they could ensure that I actually ate. I was painfully thin and getting me to eat anything was a chore. At some point, probably during my teenage years, I went the other way with food and I found it difficult to stop eating. 

There rarely tends to be a balance with my eating patterns unless I force myself to go on a strict diet and really monitor my calorie intake which, like many people, I always struggle with. I have been a successful dieter in the past losing up to 3 stone at a time but I have been equally as good at putting weight back on again. 

I think for all or nothing thinkers like me it seems almost impossible to maintain a balanced diet and a weight/figure we're happy with. We're also probably either almost starving ourselves or, on the opposite end of the scale, over eating in a big way. 


I think out of everything exercise is my biggest struggle with all or nothing thinking. I either won't exercise at all or i'll be at the gym 4 times a week. There is never an in-between level of exercise for me. 

If i'm not exercising regularly I don't really see the point in doing any because what difference is it going to make? Well, if I was honest with myself any form of exercise is better than none at all right? But in my mind if I'm not hitting it hard all week there's really no point squeezing in the ocassional jog or swim. I have always envied people like my Dad who has for a number of years now stuck to the same gym routine no matter what else is happening in his life. The majority of people probably do only go to the gym or an exercise class about twice a week and feel content with that. So why is that so hard for me? 

Exercise also massively ties in with diet for me. If I am on a strict diet I can see the benefit of exercising to help me on my weight loss and fitness journey. If however I am not paying much attention to what I eat I tend to think that exercise is pointless because if i'm not eating healthy it will just be counterproductive. 

Even as I type this I can see what an illogical fool I am! But in order for me to find within myself the motivation to do these things and stick at them everything else has to be perfect. Did I mention I am also a bit of a perfectionist!?   


If I had a pound for every job i've had since leaving university I would be a rich woman! 

There's those people in life who manage to stay in the same job for years or even a life time, and then there's me. The all or nothing perfectionist who is continually on a mission to find the most amazing job which will fulfil all my hopes and dreams. If one thing isn't right within that job or work environment it will pretty much ruin the job for me. Ok I might stick at it for a year or two but always in the back of my mind will be the little voice confirming to me over and over again all the reasons why this isn't the job for me. And then once I listen to that little voice the job begins to lose all sense of purpose to me. 


Since being a blogger there have definitely been periods where i've blogged a lot or not at all. This year I have mostly managed a pretty consistent routine with blogging and I have for sure seen the benefits of this. I put unnecessary pressure on myself to have blogs done and published at certain times and if for any reason they're not I would probably rather just take a week or two away from it than just put one post out. There was a time where I felt like I wasn't getting anywhere within blogging and as I looked at other successful bloggers I wondered what was the point in me carrying on. That was a sad time because I really lost sight of the reasons why I blog and it resulted in quite a prolonged break. 

Mental Health

As I mentioned before, I first really took note of my all or nothing approach to life during CBT sessions for my anxiety issues. A common denominator between myself and others on the course was that we were all the same with our all or nothing thinking. 

When you're highly anxious this way of thinking becomes problematic because we tend to catastrophise every thought in our mind. Rather than doing the one thing that scares me I will imagine the worst case scenario in my mind of what will happen if I do. There will be no balance in my mind or realistic approach to what i'm doing. I either end up doing nothing or putting myself in what I view to be the greatest danger of my life.

Aside from anxiety, I have also found that my all or nothing approach to life does play a role in how depressed I might be feeling too because I tend to view myself as either a success or a failure. There rarely tends to be any in-between. So for example - if i'm on the strict diet, exercising 4 times a week and doing well at work I consider myself to be winning at life. This of course is a really difficult and  a challenging way of life to maintain and it's also not always achievable. So ok, lets say I only manage to go to the gym once that week but everything else still goes well? I will beat myself up beyond all belief because I haven't abided by the strict regime I set myself. Then before I know it I am a failure, I feel unhappy and slowly the regime falls apart again until i'm back at the 'nothing' phase again.    

I guess being this way isn't all bad. I'm certainly someone who will put 100% into anything I set my mind to. And when I do things that I put a lot of effort into they 9 times out of 10 tend to be successful. It's ultimately just the tricks my mind plays on me which end up resulting in negative thinking, self doubt and a loss of motivation.  

Are you an all or nothing thinker? 
How does it impact on your life? 
I'd love to hear from any of you who can relate to this post! 

It always helps to hear other peoples experiences and how you all cope with things in different ways. I'd love to know if anyone has successfully changed from being an all or nothing person into a person with a healthy balance and approach to life. 


  1. Thank you so much for posting this! I can relate 100% as I am definitely an all or nothing person. Your mental health posts are really helpful in reminding me that I am not alone :)

    1. Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment :-) I'm glad that you find my posts helpful x

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  3. Wow, I've never realised I am totally an all or nothing person but reading this it could have been written about me! Well, I've learnt something new today, eek. A really interesting post and gorgeous photos.

  4. Sarah, I'm so glad that I came across this blog post today. The past two weeks I've really gone through a rough patch with one of my friends who has OCD. My friend has definitely always been an all or nothing person (I've known them since they were 6!) Although I'm not so self absorbed that I don't realise that perhaps there has been a cooling of our friendship simply because they don't like me anymore, it's still really comforting to read this and maybe understand a bit more their point of view. So thankyou! Sophie xxx

  5. Dear Sarah, first things first: super blogpost and well written!
    I would say I'm also a all or nothing person. Maybe not in all those ponts you've written about. But definitely I can relate to the point friendship, exercise and blogging.
    Sometimes I struggle thinking this way, but thats just me.

    You text was really inspirering and maybe I will write about my all or nothing personality in the future :)

    Xx Sarah


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