All or Nothing: Mindset Self-sabotage | TMOHP Episode 058

Wouldn't you want to know if the things you’re telling yourself in the hopes of being stronger, more powerful, and more successful were actually sabotaging you? Well, I have news. There’s a set of beliefs that smart, busy women rely on as they try to change their eating, their weight, and their relationship with food. Commonly thought of as “success habits,” this set of beliefs tends to be self-reinforcing and can cause a lot of problems. Mindset self-sabotage happens when the beliefs you think are success strategies, instead create ongoing cycles of overwhelm, overload, and overeating.

In this first of a series of episodes, I’m going to walk you through these five mindsets, help you identify them if they’re cropping up in your own life, and show you clearly why they aren’t helping, and are more than probably hurting. Let’s start with some background information and then home in on the Grand Dame of them all: All or Nothing Thinking (aka perfectionism).

In this episode:

  • Why noticing your thoughts matters
  • How your thoughts and beliefs impact your confidence, your motivation, and your results
  • The All or Nothing Mindset

Featured on the show:

Episode Transcript

Hey everybody. Thanks for coming back to spend some more time with me. And if this is your first episode, welcome to the podcast. If you've been listening for a while and you are finding this podcast helpful, it would be so helpful if you would help spread the word. So wherever you listen to the podcast, be sure to rate it, review it, and subscribe to it. And if you know somebody, or if you are in a group of like-minded women who would appreciate from knowing about the podcast. Please feel free to share. 

Okay, so what I want to talk about today, I heard myself the other day having a conversation with a client and talking about something that I realized I haven't really talked about on the podcast. I talk a lot about the power of mindset and the power of your thoughts and beliefs that, and, and how those thoughts and beliefs really underlie your relationship with food and your ability be to be successful, making changes. What I haven't talked about are the mindsets- there are a group of them- that I see over and over and over again, sabotaging particularly smart, busy women. They're they show up for a lot of different people, but particularly these are things that smart, high achieving women struggle with. And to make it even more complicated, these mindsets that will sabotage you have often been sold to you as success mindsets.

And so what I see are people who are approaching life through this lens, using these thoughts and beliefs, thinking that they are helping them get somewhere. Right? They are, they're key to being more successful. They are fueling them and really, these are ways of thinking these are sets of thoughts or beliefs or, or specific thoughts and beliefs that actually make things harder for you and can sabotage you before you even start.

If I haven't sold this strongly enough, I want you to think about these mindsets as actual minefields, because they are. They will sabotage you. They will devour your energy and your enthusiasm. They limit your potential and your ability to really stretch and reach, and they drastically affect the size and the shape of your game. By that I mean the way you show up. The way you approach your goals and your relationship with food and the things that you want in life. If you are not aware of how these particular mindsets are affecting you, and like many people, if you're not even aware that there's a mindset, because so many times if we don't take a step back, well, not even so many times all the time, if we don't take a step back and examine our thoughts and our beliefs, then we aren't even aware that these are thoughts and beliefs.

We think they are just reality. This is way, the way the world is. Right? And if you're not aware of these mindsets and if you're not aware that they're there and how they may be affecting you, they can have, I think the underlying Major impact on how and whether you will succeed with your goals and your ability to make the changes that you want to make in your life.

Whether you are talking about overeating or emotional eating, or whether you're working on something else. But I think these mindsets that I am referring to can be particularly pesky and present when it comes to trying to break out of diet mentality. Trying to make changes with the scale. Trying to change patterns of overeating or binging or eating at night. So I want to spend some time talking about these.

And we'll see how this goes and how long winded I get with all of this. But my hunch is that this is way too much to put in one episode. My hunch is I'm going to give you some background information and then we will talk about one of the mindsets today, and then I will tell you about the other mindsets in upcoming podcast episodes. But that is just my hunch. We will see how this plays. 

For a lot of women, particularly smart, busy women. Overeating, travels in cycles with overwhelm and overload. I call them the three O’s, overwhelm, overload, and overeating. And I see a lot of women who are trapped in this cycle and feel very frustrated about it. So often these women that I'm talking about, you may be one of them, I have certainly been one of them. Become so frustrated and even mad and angry at themselves because they just aren't making the impact that they want to. They just aren't showing up for themselves the way they want to. They aren't showing up for the changes that they make, the way, the changes that they want to make, the way they want to. It feels like they are reacting to life instead of being intentional because they're overwhelmed and overloaded and overeating. They work harder and harder, but they aren't getting where they want to with, with goals, with their personal life. 

Oftentimes professional life and taking care of other people is going, okay. It's the other stuff, right? And what they get from this whole cycle is tired and discouraged. And I've talked in the, in some other podcast episodes about the cycle of hidden hungers and how once you start to get one hidden hunger, you can easily accumulate more hidden hungers. So there's a vicious cycle that happens.

And when you're stuck in overwhelm and overload and overeating, and you don't feel like you're getting anywhere and you're tired and you're discouraged, you know what happens. You do know what happens. You start to lose your faith and you start to lose your confidence in yourself. You start to lose your motivation, even though part of your brain is saying that old myth, that diet mentality myth, that is just, if it's not working, you just need to work harder, but it becomes harder and harder to work harder.

What people often don't realize is that they're getting in their own way. I don't mean this in a blaming kind of way, you know, just, I just told you that the diet mentality myth is if it's not working, it's you and you need to work harder and harder. We get in our way, however, with thoughts and beliefs that put ourselves in our own way.

I'm going to say more about it because I just realized that sounds very confusing. But I'm saying they or we get in our own way without even realizing it. In part because the, taking on this way of thinking that I'm going to share with you these mindsets that are so prevalent. Oftentimes, it's done really deliberately. One of the reasons it is so important to talk about this is that the mindsets that I'm talking about are things that we often choose to think and we reinforce and we say, Okay, today I'm going to wake up and I'm going to think this way. Because we think that this way of thinking will actually get us where we want to go.

We're told. I mean, we don't just come up with this on our own. We're told through all sorts of ways that these are success mindsets. This is how successful people approach problems. This is how if I am going to be successful, I need to approach my eating at night or my overeating, or my emotional eating or changing my weight. I need to think this way. I've been told, and you've been told that these are success mindsets. 

But they really aren't. They are sabotaging mindsets. These are the kind of mindsets that keep you from thinking and playing at your biggest, at your fullest. They keep you stuck, struggling with things like stress and overload and overwhelm and overeating. They keep you from getting where you want to go and what's worse, they may, like I said, lead you to feel like it's all your fault. They actually do. It's not may. They do lead you to feel like it's all your fault. If you are stuck in these mindsets, you can easily come to believe that you're the problem. That you're lazy. That you're unmotivated, or that you're even a failure, and that couldn't be further from the truth.

The thing that is so important to come to see about these mindsets is that they, they fuel and lead you into the vicious cycle of working harder and harder and blaming yourself, but working harder and harder and not getting anywhere. They, these mindsets put you on that hamster wheel instead of putting you on a success path.

And honestly, once you start to see these mindsets, you will see that the effect they have is even bigger than how they impact the efforts that you're making to change your eating. They prevent you from taking growth steps, from giving yourself permission to grow and to learn and to take risks. Whether it is with trying to change your eating and building new habits and learning what works and what doesn't work. Or taking risks and growing in your business or in your relationships or in your life. They stifle your growth. They keep you from being your most vibrant version of yourself. They flatten your creativity. They stunt your creativity. They actually get in the way of it. 

And like I said earlier when I talked about that cycle of overwhelm and overeating, because they keep you stuck in a cycle and believing that if you could just master things the way this, this way of thinking, these ways of thinking are telling you that, Oh, I should be this way. They drain your motivation and your energy and your confidence and your passion. It happens over time. It's like dripping. Each time you go through the cycle. But this is what happens. 

I am willing to bet that you like me and most other human beings on the planet, but especially smart, busy women have beliefs and thoughts that keep you working hard. Harder than you need to. Plodding along, but not getting the results that you are investing so much of your belief and your time and your energy and you're wanting toward. And when you're stuck in one or more because just like hidden hungers, these mindsets and these beliefs kind of travel in packs, when you are stuck in these kind of beliefs, they can leave you working so hard and feeling so drained that you don't even feel like you have the energy to look outside of them, because all you're supposed to be doing is putting your energy into, into fulfilling the, the way the belief. The way of thinking, and I know I'm talking around them and I haven't told you what they are yet, but this background is really important. 

Because what I know to be true is that so many smart, hardworking women could work less hard and struggle less and be more effective. Could have an easier time changing their relationship with food. Could have an easier time making changes with overwhelm and overload and could have an easier time not creating more of that if they weren't stuck in these mindsets with these kind of thoughts that play on repeat in their head that are sabotaging them and keeping them stuck while at the same time, remember believing that, Oh, this is the good stuff. This is the stuff that makes me strong to think this. 

So just to be clear and to say what I said earlier in a different way, or maybe it is the same way, but to repeat myself because it's important. It's very important it is so empowering to get clear on thoughts and beliefs that you have that aren't serving you. Because 99% of the time, most human beings on this planet walking walk around automatically thinking things and believing things and repeating things to themselves and telling things to themselves without paying any attention whatsoever. It is like this soundtrack that goes in your head 24 7, and that soundtrack just plays and plays and plays. And without what most people do is they don't get any separation from it. They don't say, Oh, I'm having that thought again, or, Oh, there's that belief I got from my aunt, or there's that belief I picked up from that show I watched. Right. They just think these things.

And when you think things over and over and over again without examining them, without paying attention to them or noticing them, it is what happens as human beings is we start to believe the thought and the beliefs are facts. They are true and they are us. So if I tell myself over and over again that something is hard or something isn't for me, or I need to approach change a certain way, and I don't pay any attention to it, I don't step back from it, I don't look at it and say, Huh, that's an interesting thought. Is that helpful to me? Do I want to keep thinking it? Is there another thought? I just start to believe that that's the way life is, that's the way I am, and that is how we get stuck. 

So it is really important to know what these mindsets and thoughts and beliefs really are so that you can start to recognize them if you are thinking them and believing them, and if they're getting in your own way. And then it is also really important to be really crystal clear about why they don't work. And this is also really important because think about it. If you're walking around thinking this thought or believing this thing, you're believing it. And probably you are thinking it and repeating to yourself over and over again because you think it does work or you believe it's just truth. This is the way life is. This is the way it has to be. 

It is really important to understand how and why these things don't. Because probably at least a part of you is believing the opposite, and that is what gets smart, busy women stuck. So think about your mindset as the way your mind approaches your life. And if you're using a mindset that you're really comfortable with, or one that you have just a really long, comfortable or uncomfortable history using. You're likely to be, like I said, just virtually unaware that it's even there. It just operates in the background, like the blood pulsing through your body. 

When you become more aware of your thoughts and your beliefs, and when you can distance yourself from them enough to see, Oh, I'm having a thought or a belief, then you can be more deliberate. Then you can make choices. Then you can ask yourself if this is getting you where you want to go, or if there are some thoughts or beliefs that might lead you more easily to the goal that you have. That might make it easier to take your power back from food. Once we shine light on these sabotaging mindsets so that you can really see them and the way they work, or more specifically the way they don't work for you. I think you're going to see new possibilities for change and for transformation, and you may even see how things could be a whole lot easier.

So there are five mindsets that I'm going to cover today. I'm going to cover the first one, the one that needs no introduction. If you have listened to this podcast previously. And that's the all or nothing mindset. The all or nothing mindset also goes by the name of perfectionism and we cannot talk enough about this self-sabotaging mindset because it will sneak into everything. I have yet to I well, I think this is true. I, I think I have yet to work with anyone in this area of their life where perfectionism hasn't shown up. Even, even, you know, it was in very surprising ways. So all or nothing, the all or nothing mindset is the idea that you need to hit a hundred percent of something for it to be good enough, or for you to call it done. It's a hundred percent or it's nothing. A hundred percent, anything less tends to count for zilch.

I have always said, this mindset will sabotage you faster than just about anything. And I think that is true, but I also think that that happens because this creeps into so many other unhelpful thoughts and beliefs. 

So let me give you some examples of how perfectionism and all or nothing thinking might be showing up for you. The first is that oldie, but goodie and endlessly starting over. It's waking up in the morning, thinking. Today. Today is that fresh start. A lot of us, me included, love a new beginning. Right? I love a new clean notebook, but that feeling of starting over, it often includes this idea of this time I'll get it right this time, I'll do it right. Starting from scratch, having to be perfect. When you think this way, you run the risk of not taking credit for all the things that you've accomplished and learned so far. And have talked about that in other podcast episodes. 

All or nothing thinking means treating that brand new fresh notebook, that fresh start as if nothing else has happened. Right? You don't get to take the accumulated gains and the wins, for instance, the wins of learning from what didn't go well. I will put a link to that podcast episode in the notes, but you don't get to learn from those things because in all or nothing thinking you ruined it last time. You need to start over again.

This can also show up when you start a new approach, you have an idea of something you are going to try. So that you think will work with your binging at night habit, for instance. And you have this new approach and it falls apart because you did something wrong and your efforts were ruined and then it's, that didn't work either. It's either I didn't, I need to start over. The example I gave you previously or it, it didn't work. So now I have to find something else. I see both of these a lot. We work with this a lot in the Your Missing Peace program because the whole, the whole process of change is, is messy and it is starting and it is learning what works, but it's also learning what doesn't work.

And when, when you learn from what doesn't work, then you're still moving forward when you tell yourself it's ruined and you have to start over or it's ruined and now you have to find something else or. I'll get to the other one, but when you, when you do those things, you sabotage your progress, right?

All or nothing thinking keeps you from moving forward. Another example is when you deviate from your plan. You have a plan that you're going to eat something for lunch, and then there's a, uh, something happens at work and you have an invitation to go out to lunch and you, so you do something different, but then because you deviated from the plan, you react by bagging the whole thing, right?

It's not logical, it's perfectionism and it is incredibly common. This happens so often. Think about all the attempts at weight loss. Where it's not usually that first step off track or that first deviation. That it, it never is the first deviation that leads to weight gain or plan failure or being completely off track, whatever that means, right? That first thing, that deviation, it's just a step off of whatever path that you are on. It is the eating that you do. Once your inner perfectionist tells you that it's hopeless and air quotes, it's hopeless because you've failed in air quotes. Actually you ate something you hadn't planned to or your plans didn't go the way they were you know, supposed to go in your head. Your brain that thinks it's ruler of everything, right? There was a deviation. And if you don't have the all or nothing, you can go back on your plan and you will make progress. Nobody was ever ruined by that momentary deviation. Or, you know, another way to frame it is needing to be nimble because life happened.

I have one last example for you of how all or nothing thinking can sabotage you. And remember I said these are success mindsets, right? In air quotes, they're not really, but we think that we're going for excellence. We think that it's important to follow the plan. We think that we need to get it right, right?

We need to be strong. Have you ever had expectations that are so unrealistic or rigid about what it is that you are going to do or that you have to do in air quotes or should do? Have you ever had expectations that felt so unwieldy that you could never imagine sticking with them long term? When you really thought it out, if you ever really thought it out, thinking about doing that for the rest of your life just felt amazingly impossible.

That was your perfectionist, that was your all or nothing thinker setting you up. We've talked about some of these things before. I want you to imagine that I'm taking a highlighter, you know, a highlighter pen, those bright yellow highlighter pens and going over this in your brain. Because these are, these are the thoughts that are different from some of the automatic thoughts.

Let's talk about the cost of all or nothing thinking AKA perfectionism. All or nothing thinking fuels feelings of failure and being down on yourself self-judgment. Because with all or nothing thinking, you never feel good enough. You don't ever get partial credit. Perfectionism and all or nothing thinking fuels small, safe thinking and small, safe acting. Being afraid to act, restricting your actions to the things that you feel like you could do those a hundred percent. Because a hundred percent it's all that's going to be good enough. And failure is catastrophic. Right? All or nothing thinking actually fuels over. Because perfectionism is painful and stressful and creates a lot of pressure, and so comfort eating, stress, eating, eating, to not think about things, anybody? Those can all be fueled by all or nothing thinking. It also fuels giving up and procrastinating because we get afraid that we're not going to get it perfect. We're afraid to dive in because the expectations feel like they have, Well, they have, they don't feel like they've set us up for failure within the definition of all or nothing thinking. 

All or nothing thinking fuels irritability because life feels hard. It is hard all the time. There is an impossible standard. It fuels criticalness and rigidity. When you feel like you have to get it perfect, it is hard to be. It's hard to be lighthearted. It is hard to go with the flow or to laugh at your mistakes because they mean something. It's all or nothing. 

Here's a really big one. Perfectionism. Perfectionism prevents you from really recognizing and celebrating the good things that you do. From owning your accomplishments. Because in think about it, in the all or nothing mindset, there is always something that you didn't do. Nothing ever feels complete, so you don't get credit for what does go well. Think about the days where you started some kind of plan to do something differently with your eating. Maybe it was a mindful eating experiment. Maybe you wanted to eat a certain way that day. And think of the days when you made it all the way through the day, and then at 5:30 for reasons that you don't know, or maybe reasons that you do know things fell apart.

Did you give yourself credit for the hundred times that you were aware that day, or the hundred choices that you made that worked for you? Or the hundred ways you strengthened the muscles that you were trying to be, you know, trying to strengthen? Or is the only thing that you remember about that day, that one thing? So not only do you not get to recognize your accomplishments, but it kills your passion. Because you never get to recognize your accomplishments. It kills your motivation. It makes it very hard to keep trying. All or nothing thinking is deadly to change. 

It is really important to notice the all or nothing thinking and not to get perfectionistic about banishing the perfectionism, right? Notice the all or nothing thinking. Practice being playful. Practice celebrating 75% and 85% instead of getting mad that you didn't get 110%. 

In the Your Missing Peace program, one of the things that we work on constantly is strengthening the muscle of continuing onward. Not letting perfectionism stop us, and it comes up over and over and over again. People will say, I see it. I see it happening. Okay. How do you keep going? How do you notice that that didn't go so well yesterday? How do you notice that you feel like you didn't do last week's training? How do you notice those things and keep moving forward instead of telling yourself all or nothing, it's all ruined and I need to start over. This is a muscle that when you start, I'm not talking about the all or nothing muscle, but the keep going muscle. When you take control of that muscle, so much changes. 

So it turns out that I was correct. There is no way I'm going to get through all the mindsets in this podcast episode. It would just be way too long, and you've got a lot of things to do today. So I will be back with the remaining four mindsets that set you up for self-sabotage. The mindsets that you may have been told your whole life are the things that will set you up for success, which isn't true. In the meantime, be playful. Look for the all or nothing thoughts. Give yourself permission to do an okay job and to just keep going.

I'll talk to you soon.

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Your Missing Peace is the psychologist-designed program that provides the tools, the support, the coaching, and the confidence to create freedom from emotional eating and overeating. Finally - emotional eating help done right! Your Missing Peace is specifically designed for smart, high-achieving women who are DONE with diets, who want a lasting solution, and who are ready to take their power back from food, from overeating, and the scale. 

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