Reviewing All or Nothing Thinking

Hi Guys! In Today’s post I am talking about one of the thinking errors, called All or Nothing Thinking. I previously wrote about the thinking errors that can dominate our thinking pattern, these can massively contribute to anxiety and depression. You can check out this blog post here:

All or nothing thinking is a tendency to see only the extremes, things are seen in black and white categories. Thinking in absolutes such as “always”, “never “or “every”. Typical extremes that we see are:

  • Success or failure, rather than degrees of success
  • Thin or fat, rather than a range of body shapes and weights
  • Love or hatred, rather than fluctuating emotions, or degrees of feeling
  • Good or bad, rather than a whole spectrum of worth.

Image result for all or nothing thinking

It can be useful to develop the habit of reviewing extreme thinking by asking yourself:

Is this really all or nothing? For example are you viewing it as the Following:

Success                                   or                                      Failure

Trustworthiness                or                            Untrustworthiness


Or are there areas which I am not noticing? The grey areas in between, such as:

Success /Near total success/Partial success/Perhaps not great/Perhaps failure/ Failure

Total trust/Mostly trustworthy/Trustworthy with minor  things/Untrustworthy


all or nothing


What aspects of yourself, others or situations do you tend to view as all or nothing?

  • First list those areas where you tend to adopt an all or nothing position.
  • Then try to identify the grey areas.
  1. ________________________________________________________________________


  1. ________________________________________________________________________


  1. ________________________________________________________________________


  1. ________________________________________________________________________


It will take time and practice to develop the habit of looking for the “grey” areas. You might try and find it difficult at first, but try not to regard this as a failure, don’t allow you’re all or nothing thinking to kick in.

Image result for all or nothing thinking

Niamh-Psychotherapist xx



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