Oh, all-or-nothing thinking, my old nemesis.
I fall into this trap more often than I’m willing to admit. (So, as I’m willing to admit that I do, you can just imagine how often this actually is.)
It’s easier to see the world in black and white, you know?
To label things right or wrong, only.
To not see things in shades of grey.
That maybe there’s a reason people are acting this way, or maybe you’re a little bit at fault, or maybe things could be a little more flexible.
That if it’s not great right away, it’s time to give up.
This has gotten better as I’ve gotten older and more patient with myself. It’s also gotten better as I’ve become kinder to myself.
But all or nothing thinking kills things. It kills creativity. It kills kindness. It kills commitment to an idea. I struggle even with this blog because of my all-or-nothing thinking.
But the great thing is? One day, all or nothing thinking changes – and you’ll see something in the shades of grey.
I call myself a recovering perfectionist.
There’s a lot of perfectionist tendencies in me for many reasons, none of which I will be going into here. It took me an incredibly long time to realize it, but the single-most destructive thing in my psyche is that tendency toward perfectionism.
Why? It retards my growth.
I lean toward not doing things unless they can be done perfectly – which doesn’t allow me to start things at all.
So, as one does, I turned to Voltaire.
This wasn’t my natural inclination; as many of my former college classmates can attest to, anything to do with French philosophy is persona non grata with me. However, when I find myself grappling with my perfectionistic tendencies, I turn to a quote that I found in Gretchen Rubin’s The Happiness Project:*
Perfect is the enemy of the good.
You can’t do anything good if it has to be perfect all the time. And you can’t learn anything new if you have to know it, the best, right away.
So, I remind myself not to fall into that trap. Am I perfect at it? Not even close. But I am good enough – and that’s all you need.