Everyone wants success. Obvious, right? But do most of us know that success has a price? Definitely not.

This is not about paying our way to success through means of efforts, plans, etc. It’s about the other side of success – the dark side experienced by most high achievers.

When we achieve something in life, we will build the belief that we are more successful than others. As we collect more and more successes, our strong self-confidence will seep into our egos and a dangerous problem will crop up – we’ll have an All-or-Nothing thinking.

In this article, we’ll explore the All-or-Nothing thinking caused by our successes, its negative effects towards our relationships with others, and how to avoid paying the full price to the cashier of the Success Restaurant so we can save our money…and the bonds we created with those who are important to us.

All-or-Nothing: I Hate You Very Much, I Like You Very Much

The All-or-Nothing thinking is related to how we perceive others. Imagine that we once had a friend and from our 10 years of befriending him, we didn’t spot any flaws in his characters and behaviours. One day, we found out that he made a mistake and because of that, we stopped being friends with him.

That’s the All-or-Nothing thinking.

The All-or-Nothing thinking is also described by psychologist as “splitting” in which we split people into really good or really bad people. In the mind of an All-or-Nothing thinker, there’s no such thing as a person being in-between as in having both positive and negative qualities.

The Effect of Discounting the In-Betweens in Our Life

All humans are in-betweens. Yet, it’s easy to trick ourself into believing that we are on the high social strata after we collected substantial amount of shiny trophies and great successes. It’s human to sometimes have an inflated ego but when it affects our perception of others, then beware – we’ve paid too much.

Discounting the in-betweens means that we will stop interacting with most people and become too judgmental; we’ll also be inclined to say bad things to others, not giving thought to other people’s opinions and ideas, and being too picky about who’s allowed in our social circles.

These adverse effects can be detrimental to our life because having little interaction means that we will be less exposed to new opportunities, ideas, thoughts, and opinions which are needed to grow a balanced and healthy mind. To stop paying the full price of success, there are three things we can do — becoming more self-aware, focusing on growing with a purpose, and teach others what we know.

Three Things We Can Do to Avoid the All-or-Nothing Thinking:

1. Develop greater self-awareness

Having good self-awareness can help us to spot whenever the All-or-Nothing thought patterns arise. To develop self-awareness, we need to learn how to evaluate our thoughts especially when we find ourself trying to judge others. The moment we spot the All-or-Nothing thought patterns, we need to immediately tell ourself to stop believing it and reframe the thought.

An example: We met someone who looked messy and our initial thought was “I can’t talk to this guy. He’s too much of a mess.” A possible reframe would be “Not dressing well doesn’t mean that he’s a mess. He might be smarter than me” or “Einstein’s hair was a mess but he had one of the greatest minds in history”

By practicing this whenever we are in conversation with others, we’ll find it easier to see others in a better light.

You can learn more about improving your self-awareness by reading this article by Ciara Conlon.

2. Grow yourself but add purpose into the mix

“Growth for the sake of growth is the ideology of cancer cells”

Edward Abbey

Self-improvement is important. The problem with the society today is the search for rapid growth but without any purpose. Yeah, sometimes the purpose is told to us by so-and-so, but is it really a purpose? If it is, it’s a purpose that is probably hiding under another purpose — growth.

When we were little and growing up, we needed our parents to guide us. The same goes with any other growth. We need something to guide our growth, and that something is purpose.

Before seeking to grow or change our life, we need to find our purpose in life. Having a purpose means that we don’t depend on other people to define the way we want to grow. Our growth will revolve around the purpose we chose thus it would be meaningful to us and meaningful to others too.

Lianna Martha Laroya wrote an interesting article on how to find our purpose in her Lifehack article “5 Steps to Find out Your Life Purpose”. You can read it here.

3. Teach what we know

Teaching can help us to be more generous on sharing our knowledge.

But there’s one thing about teaching that can bust our ego, and it’s the capability to elevate people’s status. When we teach others, we are extending our hand to pull others up to our level.

By continuing to teach others, we will change our mindset from thinking of ourself as being on a higher level to thinking of ourself as someone responsible to help others to be on the same level as us.

Conclusion

The price of success is the negative effects it can have towards our relationship. As explained above, we can avoid paying the full price by doing three things:

  1. Develop self-awareness by questioning our thoughts consistently
  2. Grow deliberately by finding our purpose of life before trying to improve ourself
  3. Teach others to help them improve themselves to the point where they are on our level

Lastly, there are no failure, no success, and no in-between. There is only human, and it’s our duty to help each other become the best version of ourselves.

Featured photo credit: Svilen.miev via Wikimedia Commons via commons.wikimedia.org

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