All-or-nothing thinking

I've mostly been a "black or white," "wrong or right," "all or nothing" thinker. This is a very dangerous way of viewing the world, especially for a perfectionist. When you're not suceeding, you're failing. When you're not in 1st place, you're losing.

I remember being 4 or 5 years old at Disneyworld for the first time. Dad and I approached a game in (Tomorrowland maybe?) while another little girl was playing. She finished her game and left the kiosk. I hung my head and dejectedly began to walk away.

"What's wrong?" my dad asked.

"It's over, she already won the game," I replied.

"You get a shot, too. Everyone gets to play. She played her game, and you can play yours," he said (or something along those lines).

I didn't understand that because someone else had won, I hadn't lost. Because someone else took a turn, I thought I missed out for the whole game. I thought it was a one-shot deal and that I had lost before even trying.

I'm reaching for two metaphors here. One, just because someone's won their game, I can't scrap my chances of playing and winning my own. I can't get discouraged comparing my game to someone else's. The other metaphor I want to focus on is that losing one little game doesn't mean losing the whole big thing. I have another chance. Losing one small battle doesn't mean losing the entire war.

I often will wash an entire day's efforts because I haven't been 100% perfect. This doesn't necessarily mean that I say stuff like, "well, I screwed up lunch, might as well screw up dinner, too." I know that's a problem for some people, but I don't think it's (at least consciously) one for me. What I mean is, I will consider the entire day a failure if I "screw up" even in one small way. Overall, I did a great job today, eating-wise. However, I fell back on an old habit and am paying for it emotionally and physically.

I had a green monster for breakfast, an apple and almonds for a snack, leftover vegetarian bean chili for lunch, and a baked sweet potato with green beans and roasted tomatoes for dinner.

I had a peppermint mocha with only 1 pump of chocolate and skim milk in the afternoon from a local coffee shop. Not the healthiest drink, but not a Frappuccino or even a full-blown caramel macchiato. I can live with the choice I made.

For dessert tonight, Mom and I had apple cider gelato I bought from the coffee shop (it was AMAZING), and I don't feel bad about eating that. I have gelato once every few months, maybe, and I've never seen that flavor before. I won't go back and get more tomorrow or even next week. It was a treat that I won't have again for awhile (maybe ever since the flavor is seasonal and I don't think the cafe does very good business), and I can live with that choice, too.

No, it was the Lindt truffles in the 50%-off Halloween packaging. I didn't need them. I have perfectly good Ghirardelli chocolate at home I could've had if I reeeeally wanted it. I rationalized the purchase - I've never had these before! They're half off! I committed without faltering or looking back. I bought the stupid bag. I ate a piece when I got home. Then a couple more. I toyed with throwing the bag away. I told myself, nah, you can pace yourself. I waited until I was the only one still up and I ate the rest of the fucking bag.

There were only like 12 pieces total, so it's not like I ate a pound of chocolate, but it was a HUGE mistake and there's NO reason for either the unhealthy "food" or the unhealthy behavior. I've done so well lately at preventing episodes like this from happening, but here it happened today.

I ate SO WELL today compared to other days, but this chocolate debacle overshadow's the day's successes because it's "all or nothing." I lost because I didn't win.

I know this is the wrong way to think, and I'm trying to alter my perception and stop being so hard on myself, but this is how I experience a "failure" like today.

They're gone. It won't happen again tomorrow, but I still can't let myself get away with today. I maybe should cut myself a break, but this shouldn't have happened in the first place. Ugh, my psyche is fighting with itself again...


  1. Getting rid of the perfectionist attitude is hard. I think we all have it, in particular with dieting and losing weight.

    Look at it as a learning experience and see what you might apply the next time a situation comes up where you want to have a trigger food in the house.

    I love Lindt chocolate, too :D

  2. Thanks for the comment, Lori! And I was thinking about what I'd do next time this happened...since it was such an impulse, it'll be easy to quickly go to Twitter on my phone and get some help. Saying "guys, I almost just bought candy/binged/ate a terrible thing" will probably yield some support!

    That Lindt stuff was pretty darned good, but it wasn't worth the stomachache I got 30 minutes later. :D


Post a Comment