Plan Basics

Are You an All-or-None Thinker?

Reality check your thinking to help guide you to more productive thoughts.
Published April 16, 2017

"With our thoughts we make the world." -Buddha.

Ever hear the phrase "What you see is what you get"? It's also true that what you think is what you get. That’s because what you think affects how you feel, and how you feel determines what you do. Your inner thoughts and emotions have a big impact on your appearance, your persona, and your actions. So it pays to think about your thinking, and whether it’s helping you move forward on your goals—or not.

The thing is that most of our thoughts happen without us realizing it, and when they’re unhelpful thoughts, like “I ate three cookies when I wasn’t planning to eat any. That’s it. Game over,” these habitual unhelpful thoughts can evolve into unhelpful thinking styles that can make the journey more difficult. All-or-none thinking is a common one, as you'll see in your Weekly. You know how it goes: You’re good or bad. You’ll succeed or fail. There’s no middle ground. It’s a thinking style that doesn’t reflect reality—nothing’s either black or white all the time—and can undermine your well-being and weight-loss efforts. Other thinking styles that can hold you back include:

  • Overgeneralization: Something that happens once will always happen. (“I gained this week even though I was careful about tracking. I’ll never lose!”)
  • Negative Lens: A single negative detail colors and overwhelms all the positive things that have happened. (“Yeah, I got to the gym three times this week, but I only worked out for 20 minutes when I was planning to go for half an hour.”)
  • Don’t Worry, Be Happy: Not all thinking styles are clearly negative—but this “everything will work out somehow” approach is equally unhelpful because you’re not planning how, when, or what to do. (“Oh well, I haven’t tracked in a week. No biggie, I’ll get back to it soon.”)

These thinking styles can lead you to feel unmotivated, pessimistic—or unrealistically optimistic. That's why these kinds of thoughts are dangerous: if you expect to fail, you probably will; if you set unrealistic expectations, you probably won't meet them, you'll be disappointed...and then your mind will flood with more unhelpful thoughts. (In fact, research shows that people who succeed on weight-loss plans believe they'll succeed.

What these thinking styles don’t lead you to feel is motivated, directed, or clear-eyed, so you’re less likely to act in a way that will help your progress. That’s why it’s important to catch your automatic thoughts when they happen and give them a reality check. That way you can change the way you think, which in turn will affect how you feel, and then what actions you take. This simple but profound shift can have a powerful impact for the good on your weight-loss success.

Here’s a good “3 R’s” way to turn your thoughts around:

  • Recognize unhelpful thoughts when they run through your mind, and understand what that kind of thinking can do to your efforts.
  • Reality check an unhelpful thought by asking yourself whether it’s factually true—or whether it’s something a friend would say to you. If the answer is “no”….
  • Rethink so that your mindset is helpful and motivating.

And remember to check in on Connect, a great place to get tips and encouragement from members... and to share your own ideas for changing your thinking.

Say Cheese(cake)!
Few desserts seem as all-out decadent as cheesecake—that creamy, rich texture; the mellow sweetness. Good thing you can have your cake and eat it, too!