This type of thinking can have it's positives. In those situations that require serious planning and dedication, I'm your woman. At the same time, this black or white thinking can be quite detrimental.
A lack of a gray area creates little room for error or growth. If I am trying to correct something, or create a positive habit, it must generally be done little by little. To the "average" person, a small improvement puts you on the right track. To the "absolute" thinker, if you've not accomplished your goal right away, you've failed. You have to start all over again, or give up all together.
While this absolute thinking is very characteristic to the cycling brain, there are tricks that you can use to "retrain" your brain and become more comfortable with some gray areas. Here are a few things I've learned over the year, many to the credit of my therapist.
- One bad hour does not make a "bad day". You can still have 23 great hours. Clearly with a 23:1 ratio, great prevails. Similarly, a bad evening doesn't make a bad weekend, bad day doesn't make a bad week, bad week doesn't make a bad month, and a couple of bad months does not make a bad lifetime.
- Find something gray (or silver or some variation of gray) that you like. Wear/carry it with you every day to remind you that gray areas can be beautiful too - it's not all black or white. This may sound cheesy, but I've personally done it and the constant, physical reminder is a quite powerful.
- Try to eliminate words such as always and never. Replace them with often, frequently, rarely, infrequently, etc. The same goes for words like "all" or "nothing". Find terms that illustrate your point but aren't so absolute, that don't rule out every single other possibility.
- Focus within - why are you feeling so all-or-nothing? Is it a value that you've always held? Is it something you've just always done and it feels un-changeable because you can't imagine doing it another way? Have you gotten hurt when being more flexible with your thoughts or actions?
- How is this way of thinking limiting you? What is the worst possible outcome if you allow yourself to be even just a little more flexible? I'll add the exceptions that you're deathly allergic to something, it's seriously illegal or immoral or would really hurt someone else. But in the majority of cases, allowing some flexibility is probably not as awful as it feels it might be.