All-or-Nothing thinking is a very common thinking pattern. It refers to thinking in black and white instead of shades of gray. It’s dichotomous thinking. According to Cognitive Behavior Therapy, it’s a ‘common mistake that people make in thinking.’ Judith Beck defines it as “You view a situation in only two categories instead of on a continuum.”(Beck, 1995)
Let me give an example of ‘All -or-Nothing’ Thinking. You have been dieting for a month and one day you decide to take some sweets, and you feel like a complete failure. You get disappointed and give up entirely on the diet plan.
Some more examples:
You have tapped for specific issues; let’s say anxiety, for a month and you felt alright. One day you experience high levels of anxiety due to a stressful experience, and decide to give up on tapping, thinking it doesn’t work.
You are working on a new project and it doesn’t work out the way you wanted it to, and you think, “I’m such a failure. I really can’t seem to do anything right. I should just give up on this.”
In essence, ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking is all about what we do after we’ve hit a few bumps along the way. Do we give up on our plans, new ideas, and diets entirely or do we think, “It’s okay. I still want to continue?” Do we decide that we are a failure or do we allow minor mishaps and continue to work on our plans?
I have developed the following EFT protocol to help you make your thinking more flexible. For example, with this exercise, you can succeed in your overall diet plan and at the same time not get bogged down by small slips along the way.
The purpose of the following exercise is to acknowledge how you feel, change your thoughts, allow new perspectives, re-motivate yourself to continue to work on the target/goal, and to not give up and label yourself as a failure when things don’t go exactly how you planned.
EFT Protocol: Ratio Tapping
Before tapping, answer the following questions.
- What is my goal/target?
- What is the comparative measure?
- How many times I didn’t meet my target?
- How many times did I meet my target?
- Write down the Ratio. (Not meeting goal vs. Meeting goal)
Instructions for Tapping (Do one round for each theme)
- Tap on acknowledging the hurt, anger and/or disappointment.
- Tap on releasing the disappointment, anger, hurt.
- Tap on the ratio alternating between – when you didn’t meet your target and when you did.
- Tap on “fear of giving up again.”
- Tap on “Working on the plan again.”
- Tap on surprising yourself with the results.
Example of Ratio Tapping
STEP 1: QUESTIONS
Question 1: What is my target?
To reduce eating sweets.
To succeed in the new project.
To eliminate anxiety/pain with EFT.
To be calmer in my approach and not get angry often.
Question 2: What is the comparative measure?
Set a comparative measure. (This will help you in clearly seeing how many times you were able to meet the target and how many times you weren’t). This helps in shifting your perspective and building a more flexible thinking style. It’s good to take a short-term measure if it’s diet. For new projects, compare with past projects. If you are not sure about the time frame, take 1 month as the time frame to compare.
Question 3: How many times I didn’t meet my target?
Target – Reducing sweet intake (diet plan)
Time frame – 2 weeks
Didn’t meet my target – I ate a lot of sweets on 3 days.
I didn’t meet my target for 1 project. (Comparison – Last 5 projects)
My anxiety came up on 2 occasions. (Time frame – 1 month)
I got angry 2 times. (Time frame – 2 weeks)
Question 4: How many times did I meet my target?
I ate very less sweets for 11 days.
I succeeded in 4 new projects.
My anxiety was less in the last 28 days.
I didn’t get angry on 12 days.
STEP 2: SET the RATIO
Set a ratio – On the left hand, put a number for not meeting your target and on the right hand, put a number for meeting the target.
Sweets – 3 days: 11 days. (You were successful 11 times – It doesn’t look so bad now, does it?)
New project – 1 project: 4 projects
Anxiety – 2 days: 28 days
Anger– 2 days: 12 days.
STEP 3: TAP
By this time, your intensity may have dropped and your thinking may have already shifted. Even if it hasn’t, tapping on this will surely help. Now let’s tap on this. (Substitute your own words. You can follow the structure and put your own content).
- Main feeling: Disappointment/ Anger
Tap on the main feeling associated with not meeting the goal. Usually it is disappointment and anger.
On your Karate Chop repeat 3 times – Even though I’m disappointed because I gave in to the temptation of eating sweets again, I accept myself.
EB- I’m disappointed
EC- I ate sweets again.
UE – I am disappointed.
UN – This disappointment
Ch- This disappointment
CB – this disappointment
(At this point you may think, “I always do this.” “I never see my plans through.” Write it down and tap on it later)
On all sequence points – I would like to release this disappointment.
- Ratio Tapping
EB – I didn’t follow my diet plan. I ate sweets again.
EC – But I followed my plan for 11 days.
UE – I didn’t follow it for 3 days.
UN – I followed my plan for 11 days.
Ch – I didn’t follow it for 3 days.
CB – I followed it for 11 days
UA- It’s doesn’t look so bad after all – I followed it for 11 days. In fact I appreciate that I followed it for 11 days. I take credit for this.
Repeat this step again. (Tap on any cognitive shifts that occur).
- Fear of giving up again
EB – But I’m afraid that I will give up on my plan again
EC – This fear that I will give up again.
UE – What if I give up again?
UN – What will I do?
Ch – I would like to release this fear.
CB – Because it doesn’t help me.
UA – I would like to let it go.
- Working on the plan again
EB – I think I can start following the plan again.
EC – It’s okay if I didn’t follow it fully earlier.
UE – I can always restart it.
UN – It’s not the end of the world
Ch –It’s not so bad
CB – It’s okay
UA – I choose to restart my diet plan.
- I am open to the possibility of surprising myself with good results this time.
Repeat on all sequence points – “I am open to the possibility of surprising myself with good results this time.”
This tapping is good for any behavior that you would like to change. For example, if you are in the habit of shouting every time you get angry and would like to change this habit and be calmer in your approach, and you have practiced it for sometime but one fine day you get mad again, don’t give up on yourself. Take credit for those times when you were calm and tap away this one time when you relapsed into the old behavior pattern. Tap and keep faith in yourself and keep practicing the new behavior that you want.
Also tap on “I always fail or I never meet my goals.” It’s not true, is it? At least once you would have succeeded (but most probably you won’t remember that one time), if not in this task then something else. Hence, apply the process for these thoughts also, and they will change. Over time, you will not need this process; the shift in thinking will come automatically.
Reference: Beck, J. S. (1995) Cognitive Therapy: Basics and Beyond. New York: Guilford Press.