How To Live In The Grey


A common phrase I hear people using to describe themselves is, “I am an all-or-nothing person.”

What they are revealing when they say this is that they only know two ways of doing anything – either full on or not at all. Their actions are at the extremes of the spectrum.

This On/Off approach to life comes from their inner belief system. They either feel in complete control of a situation or completely powerless. In their minds, they are either perfect or a failure. There is no middle ground or grey area.


Being ruled by absolutes

Take, for instance, a businesswoman who needs to look flawless when she leaves the house. She puts a lot of time and effort into looking that way. But on the days she is running late or is too exhausted to make the effort, she gives up completely and stays at home. On these days, everything is “wrong” and she feels like she has failed at being a professional. An all-or-nothing person is usually very hard on herself.

Another example is those who struggle with weight control. If they are making a choice about what they eat, they will either have nothing “bad” or everything “bad”. And they also think of themselves as being “very good” or “very bad” in making these health-related choices.

People with an all-or-nothing mindset have a defining moment that determines how their day will unfold. This means that once the first poor choice is made it sets up a pattern for many more poor choices to follow. For instance, if an all-or-nothing person on a diet has one unplanned chocolate biscuit in the morning, the rest of the day is written off as a “failure” and they will continue making more “bad” eating choices.

They tell themselves they will start over being “good” tomorrow. The fact is that one chocolate biscuit will not make any difference to their waistline. What will, is everything else they eat for the rest of the day.


Living in the grey

We have many different habits carried out by the billions of neural pathways in our brain that lead us to take or avoid action. Just because one habit is weakened by a poor choice, it does not mean the rest of our habits automatically suffer as a result.

What you should be doing is treating every choice you make as separate from each other. You do not have to feel powerless after making the first poor choice. All-or-nothing people are very determined once they set their mind on something, which means they also have the power to see every choice they make as a stand-alone decision. So rather than see things in black and white, find out how you can live in the grey.


A little mindset trick

If you are an all-or-nothing person, one little mindset trick that will help eradicate your default approach is being able to see each choice as a positive one. Set up structures that will help you overcome the first choice that could lead you on a downward spiral. And do not complicate it. Sometimes the best solutions are simple steps.

If you identify with the businesswoman in the earlier example, then give yourself some leeway with the high standards you have set for your appearance. Try going on a shopping trip without any makeup or wearing a clothing item that you would not normally wear.

If you are battling weight control, allow yourself just one treat a night. That treat might be a glass of wine, a piece of chocolate or anything you choose. If you perceive that conscious choice as an isolated action and not something “bad”, then you can disconnect from the habits that keep you stuck and unhappy.

Give yourself permission to choose and know you are powerful when you make each choice. This will help you stop or say “no” in situations that do not serve your purpose, and release you from seeing things as “all good” or “all bad”. And then, the all-or-nothing approach will no longer hold you back!


Helen Mitas HypnofitHelen Mitas is a Clinical Hypnotherapist, Master NLP Practitioner and the author of ‘Mindset Dominance’.  As the founder of Hypnofit, she helps thousands of people to become emotionally, mentally and physically fit through her ‘Take Control, Live Strong’ mind re-programming hypnosis programs.  Find out more at:


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