Monkey Puzzle Blog

A split in the road

What’s the problem with being an ‘all or nothing’ type of person?

All or nothing people are often very happy to tell you that, and there are many things all or nothing people do well. They can be highly committed and enthusiastic about things making them an inspiring and creative leader, employee or life partner...

'All or nothing people’ are either in or they are out. If they are on a health kick they go to the gym 5 nights a week, are on the latest fad diet and meditate every day. Relationships with them can be exciting and intense.

We see a lot of ‘all or nothing people' as clients because they very mental and emotional pattern that makes them all of these things, also comes with a lot of potential for life problems.

All or nothing people can:

  • Become emotionally addicted to the rollercoaster of life. Watch our short video on Getting off the Rollercoaster of life.
  • Be prone to taking short cuts and vulnerable to quick fix promises, which leads to a lot of disappointment and regret. Watch our short video on the dangers of the quick fix culture.
  • Handle endings very badly, it’s not uncommon for them to walk out to jobs, careers and relationships suddenly and without thinking it through and with a complete lack of dignity.
  • Have a lot of repressed regret, disappointment and grief. Their all or nothing thinking won’t allow them to spend time evaluating mistakes, when things go wrong or process when they experience painful emotional situations. They don’t process them, they just bounce to the next thing. This is emotionally unsustainable for most people and can cause emotional issues.

The main problem for a lot of ‘all or nothing people’ is that things usually have to get very painful for them to give up - even just a little bit - their emotional and mental ‘all or nothing’ pattern. It has served them well in some instances, so it’s understandable. I recall one client telling me that the words ‘balance’ and ‘contentment’ - “were so boring they made me feel sick”. To avoid some of the above problems people need to:

  • Think through consequences of jumping in before taking action.
  • Achieve things in smaller incremental steps.
  • Evaluate failures and mistakes and learn from them.
  • Process their grief.
  • Get more rhythm in their life. For more on this read our bestselling book Time Mastery.
  • Learn how to manage endings better.

If you are an ‘all or nothing person’, can I remind you that you do not need to do ‘all’ of these things at once? Pick off one you can begin to practice with, whether it’s finding a baseline rhythm for your week or getting a coach to help to evaluate when things go wrong. A little tweak here and there will help that brilliant creative thinking pattern into one that also leads to a fulfilling life.


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