It’s February now, and chances are, most of us have long since let go of our resolutions for 2017. It’s such a familiar happenstance – you want to lose weight and get fit, so you start an exercise routine. You pat your back every day that you do it. One day, you fall ill or just have too much work to do. So, you skip exercise that day. Then, you skip another day and one more. And then, poof, exercising is out the window altogether. Why? Because we fall into the trap of thinking that it’s everything or nothing!
It is the greatest mistake of all to do nothing because you can only do a little…
Imagine a day when you have far too many errands to run and a lot to do on the professional front too. That day, you know you cannot make it to the 50-minute yoga class or the 45-minute bike ride. But, what stops you from taking a quick 15-minute jog? We stop ourselves. We fall into the trap of thinking that if we cannot do it fully, we cannot do it at all. It’s a perfectionism trap – it either has to be done perfectly, or it shouldn’t be done at all.
Those harsh, unrealistic promises we so often break
We often tend to slip from our goals or even resolutions because we tend to make very black and white promises to ourselves. It’s like when you drink too much at a party, wake up with the mother of all hangovers, and swear that you will never touch another drop of tipple for as long as you live, so help you God. How long does that last? A day or two, or maybe till the next weekend. You drink again, and it’s back to berating yourself and your ineffectual willpower.
The problem doesn’t lie in your willpower to begin with. It lies in making all-or-nothing promises to yourself and falling victim to this trap of thinking. Instead of harshly telling yourself to ban the drinks, make a promise to yourself that you will nurse each drink for at least 30 minutes and that you will not let more than three drinks pass down your throat. That’s a promise you can stick to, for sure.
Open your heart to shades of gray
The black-and-white trap of thinking is also very limiting. It makes you think of yourself as either someone successful or a loser. You are either worth something, or you’re worthless. The problem that arises has got to do with self-esteem. If you are feeling good, you might think too highly of yourself and have a gargantuan ego to match. And if you are in the doldrums, then your self-esteem takes a battering. With a thinking process like this, you tend to become judgmental too – labeling your friends, family and colleagues with the same “good” or “bad” definitions.
In turn, thinking like this makes you an anxious, somewhat depressed person who has low self-worth. A better way to deal with this is to expand your thoughts and open your mind and heart. You cannot just be good or bad. Everyone is a mixture of good and bad, and most of us are aiming to be more “good” and less “bad.”
Step out of the black-and-white trap of thinking
Black-and-white thinking makes us prejudicial and makes us look at everything with a jaundiced eye. It literally closes the open doors in our lives and ruins personal and professional relationships when we are too busy measuring and labeling people to realize their worth.
This is also one of the main reasons we simply give up on something the moment we slip up on it. We become immersed in the need for a perfect outcome, forgetting that life often lies in the journey to a goal. All we need to remember is that life is negotiable – it always allows for U-turns!