Meditation: All or Nothing

There seems to be a lot of all or nothing thinking out there now a days. In fact this kind of thinking seems to be related to anxiety and depression. It’s also given the name of negative thinking pattern. It is also termed splitting which is defined as the failure in a person’s thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities of the self and others into a cohesive, realistic whole. It is a common defense mechanism.[1] The individual tends to think in extremes (i.e., an individual’s actions and motivations are all good or all bad with no middle ground). On the internet there are lots of websites, ready to help with the problem. This type of thinking is associated with the use of the words never, always, no one, every one, ruined and anymore. Most of the examples given are for the big things in life, relationships, the workplace and self-worth. This thinking can lead to certain types of behavior or emotions. When things do not go our way we have a tendency to use extreme wording as a way to react to the situation. Relationships going bad, missed opportunities on the job, and just a feeling that everything is going wrong. This is when the word never and always come to the forefront. I will never be able to have a good relationship, or I will always be passed over for a promotion. This kind of thinking can lead to some severe mental problems. I want to discuss this type of thinking in the more mundane things in life and see if this can help the problem on the bigger scale.

I knew a women who had 5 aquariums in her house plus she had what she called a hospital tank for when any of the fish became ill. She had the tanks for 4 or 5 years. She was really into her fish and really seemed to enjoy the whole process. Then one day I came to her place for a visit and the tanks were gone. I thought maybe she had had some kind of accident with the tanks and a lot of fish had died. She said that she just got tired of all the work. This made me think, but not say, why don’t you just have one tank, instead of not doing it at all. I can understand her reasoning, but cutting down to one tank would cut the work load by 80%. She opted to quit altogether. Another all or nothing decision. I have seen other people quit other endeavors, that at one time they seem to enjoy. I quit playing golf back in the mid 90’s, but I knew I was coming back to it some day. Does this all or nothing mentality about activities, carry over into the more important decisions and happenings in life. Do we quit these activities because of depression and/or anxiety? Why do we not see the option of moderation or the middle ground? Could the I want it all syndrome, be at the heart of the problem. Is it the people that seem to achieve, the I want it all goals, be part of the issue. There are many stories out there of people that have achieved fulfillment it seems at every level. When these stories are told, they seemingly, are meant to inspire people, to try and achieve the same success on all levels. However, these stories may wind up making people even more depressed and anxious, because they do not have the capabilities of achieving success on all levels. Let’s face it, we all can’t be Tiger Woods in golf. So what is a person to do.

The solution is in moderation and acceptance. Moderation to me, is one of the keys to living life to the best of your abilities. You can apply moderation to every aspect of your life. Even things that may be good for you, such as exercise, rest, and time for yourself, should be done in a moderate way. Trying to keep yourself in balance can be challenging but it is well worth it, as you move through this crazy thing called life. Acceptance is just as important. Accepting the fact that you are doing the best that you can, under your circumstances. This does not mean that you can not try and do better. Between moderation and acceptance you will realize that things are changing all the time, some for the good, and others for the bad. There are many options out in the world not just leave or stay, do or don’t do, and can or can’t. Many small steps can be made to make one’s life better. There are enough hours in the day. There is always the next day. Try and apply moderation and acceptance on the smaller things in life, like your everyday activities and hobbies. Then, if you are successful in achieving this balance in the routine things, then you may be able to apply the principles to the big things in life. Be thankful for what you have and where you have a chance to go. If you can’t have it all, half of it is better than nothing. Twenty five per cent of it is better than nothing. In fact anything is better than nothing. The grays in life is where it’s at. Stay close to the middle and you will always feel better about what is coming next.

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