How All-Or-Nothing Thinking Creates and Comes From Fear

Everything is a potential deal breaker when all-or-nothing thinking prevails!

People who were raised in emotional abusive homes learn to think that way. If you are with one, you may be on the receiving end and need to understand and name it. You need to be able to do that.


  • How all-or-nothing thinking affects your inner dialogue, your self-talk
  • The definition of “splitting”
  • Why there is focus on extremes in all-or-nothing, black-and-white thinking
  • How all-or-nothing thinking reflects fear of shame, blame, and criticism
  • Six fears that underlie black-or-white thinking
  • Chronic stress, anxiety, and depression related to distorted thinking
  • 5 strategies to help you shift away from all-or-nothing thinking

If you were raised by an emotionally abusive parent, you may have learned to use all-or-nothing thinking as a safety mechanism, or a defense mechanism. You didn’t choose it. You learned it. Now, it’s wise to have a look at the behavior and see if it is still required, and/or serving you well.

Another name for black-or white- all-or-nothing thinking is “splitting.” Here’s a definition from Wikipedia:

a failure in thinking to bring together the dichotomy of both positive and negative qualities in self and others into a realistic, cohesive whole.”

That means that you get caught in pairs of opposites, with no consideration of all the possibilities in between. That doesn’t leave many options, does it? Life is full of possibilities, changes, and growth points. When you–or someone you care about–gets stuck in all-or-nothing thinking, the richness is gone, and fear has replaced it.

Now you can see why it is SO important to recognize this pattern. If it’s within you, you’ll want to change it. If it’s coming at you, understand it and make decisions about your relationship. I’m here to help.

What folks have said…
I listen to your podcast and your YouTube videos. I like the guest speakers. Your voice soothes and strengthens me. My emotional mother.
Past client

stay updated

Get every episode of Save Your Sanity by email, when it’s published.

Join like-minded folks who know what you're going through.

No matter where you are on the journey – from recognizing to recovering from a toxic relationship – we have a safe place for you to learn, ask and share.

Live Zoom group calls, online discussions, ebooks, videos and more.

Log In is required for submitting new question.