How to prep and recognize all or nothing thinking
In my ten year journey to learn to manage PTSD symptoms, I encountered some terrific therapists.
Mary Ellen was a warm, caring person capable of the most deadpan delivery of practical and common sense advice.
I was stuck in a forty year old memory. A person had attempted to murder me three different ways in one night. We were trying to work through the fear and nightmares I still had of that incident.
One session, Mary Ellen asked me “How old were you when it happened?”
I answered “Around nineteen or twenty-years old.”
“How old was he?”
“He was thirty-eight years old?”I answered.
“Okay, so today, that makes him, what, seventy-eight years old, right?”
“Well, yeah,” I answered.
“Do you think you could take him today?” Mary Ellen asked.
The light bulb went off, or should I say “on” in my head.
“Hell, yeah!” I shouted. “You bet I could take him now.”
Mary Ellen showed me that I was stuck in the past, while the years had rolled by. The man who terrorized my sleep and had caused me so much fear of ever encountering him again, had aged, as had I.
My thoughts and thinking had kept me trapped in time.
Some effects of the trauma still remains, but the image of him as he attacked me that night is gone.
I tell you this because it is an example of how our thinking can change everything.
This is very important in prepping and when were are coping with a crisis. It is also important in the aftermath of a crisis.
How we think and what we think can keep us “stuck.”
Mary Ellen used to call me out on “all or nothing” thinking. It is also referred to as thinking in “black and white” terms. “You’re doing it again,” she would tell me.
She taught me to catch and correct thinking that considers only two options, one or the other, and doesn’t see the shades of grey in situations. It is a very limiting way to think.
All or nothing thinking involves thinking in absolute terms: never, ever, always.
It can also happen when we place “either or” limits on our thinking. For example, my bug out shelter will be either here or there.
If we limit ourselves to those two choices, then we might miss a better option.
When we are stressed it becomes easy to panic and begin to limit our options through all or nothing thinking.
We may think I can or I can’t do something instead of I can try to do it or I can succeed if I do it this way. All or nothing thinking doesn’t allow for that and focuses on the negative.
If we think in terms of options, rather than “either or,” we can overcome all or nothing thinking. We can substitute “and” for “either or”. I can do this and I can try this as well.
Our preparedness and reactions can be shaped by decisions made upon a wider spectrum of choices.
There will be many times in our prepping lives where the ability to see and evaluate a wider scope of options will be important, if not, crucial to our plans.
In a crisis, our ability to recognize the limitations of all or nothing thinking may help us survive by alerting us to change this type of self-limiting thinking, expand our options and make a better choice.