All or Nothing: Why Some People Are Unable To Do Anything in Moderation


'Everything in moderation' is a mantra most of you have heard at some point in your lives, probably suggested as a warning against advancing overboard with any activity, such as eating, working out, drinking, shopping, or watching TV.

However, some people can't do anything in moderation, irrespective of how strong the advice. Taking just one drink on a night out seems pointless, working out once a week feels useless, and going shopping to buy one piece of clothing seems like too much effort.

For some people, moderation takes on the negative implication affiliated with restraint and low output. They're more the all-or-nothing kind.

The Mindset

One of the most common forms of cognitive distortions in the brain is the all-or-nothing mindset. It promotes an outright viewpoint that involves thinking and imagining in extremes, in shades of black and white, that rules out mistakes, slip-ups, or subtlety.

This kind of thinking is much frequent in those who suffer from anxiety, depression, or suicidal self-destructiveness, or those who have been diagnosed with eating disorders.

An all-or-nothing mentality is related to vulnerability and negative emotions in people, both when they decide to not accomplish something because it can't be perfect, and when they bet everything and indulge in binge behaviors.

The 'nothing' part of this mindset is seen in how perfectionists, in their urge to be perfect, usually can't see anything to the finish line as their anxiety on not being perfect ends up being an unbeatable barrier that prevents them from even trying in the first place.

Take the case of someone who is on a diet or a person is on a deadline to finish a venture at work — in the event that they have an all-or-nothing mindset, then even a small wrinkle during the process of dieting or finishing the task would drive them to stop all processes as though the small twinge corrupted the entire pursuit and it can't be restored.

No In-Between

It means, on the off chance that something can't be a hundred percent, then it has to be a zero percent, and there's no in-between. This approach worsens mental health issues, lowering self-esteem and satisfaction, and keeps people from trying, reducing overall well being.

Take the other end of the range: Binging, which is a typical manner in which people prefer to deal with negative emotions. Continued binge habits, like binge-eating disorder, warns feelings of powerlessness, isolation, shame, and guilt.

These emotions can arise from a person's psychology, brain chemistry, or social and cultural history. Binging may be a way an individual chooses to numb feelings of sadness (as so frequently embodied in characters who are drunkards or stress eaters in pop culture).

It is a venture that supports a physical addiction to the feel-good hormone, dopamine, which is secreted in huge amounts when eating, drinking, or indulging in any pleasurable activity. Binging can befall as a consequence of mental health issues and in turn, contribute to mental health issues.

Get To Grips With Root Causes

It's known that both the 'all' and 'nothing' mindsets are toxic to people, except moderation doesn't come easy either. Research explains that humans are built on habit, no matter how healthy or unhealthy they are.

So to break the empty words that advise moderation — it is not going to work as long as people are still operating from their psychological need to go all or nothing.

Similarly as with any behaviors that have a premise in mental health, tackling root causes go a long way in fixing superficial behaviors in a more sustainable, healthy manner.

Written by - Anusha Vajha

Edited by – Adrija Saha

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