Updated: Feb 2
Perfectionism is a dangerous thing. It’s something that I see in myself every single day in a variety of ways. The most dangerous of these ways is something I call all or nothing syndrome. This syndrome leads me to believe that I must do everything or nothing. I must be all in or all out. I have to go all the way or none of the way.
It’s a common INFJ trait as well. We spend a lot of time in our heads thinking about how things should be. Then we put together a plan to match up what is and what we feel should be happening in our lives. We have this amazing ability to dream big and make those things happen. We strive for perfectionism in all areas of our lives, including ourselves.
I didn’t see a problem with this for the longest time. I thought it was just the way that I was made and it was ok. But my beliefs are changing. I see areas in my life where my all-or-nothing mentality is a major problem. It’s keeping me from doing some things that I really, really want to do.
It’s holding me back
This all-or-nothing syndrome is a limiting belief that holds me back from so much. When you feel like you can’t do something unless you are good at it how do you learn to do anything new? It’s incredibly difficult. It limits the things that I can do to only things that I’m super passionate about or already know how to do.
Anything new is a challenge. Anything that I can’t do all at once and make work right now is also a challenge. If it takes time, it feels impossible.
The other problem is that I only have so much time and space in my life to bee all in on something. I just don’t have the capacity to be all in on all of the things I want to accomplish. But do I really need to be all in? Would halfway in be good enough to accomplish what I want to do?
The question is: how do we move past this all-or-nothing syndrome and into a healthier mindset?
Find your why
When you want to make a big change in your life it’s important to know why you want to make that change. Remind yourself of that why every time things get hard. That will keep you on the right path and help you make the decision you ultimately want to make, instead of the decision you want to make right now, in the moment of weakness.
A little goes a long way
Start small. I know, it feels like a lot. I have an example though. When I was moving I moved all by myself and I’m not in the best shape. There were so many stairs and it was SO HOT! I still had a whole car full of stuff, but I was DONE. So I stopped.
But in the days and weeks that followed every time I went from my car into my apartment I took something with me. It felt so silly at the time, but I kept going every day. Then one day everything was in the house. I was super surprised at how easy it was to do it that way and how fast it got done. It didn’t feel like this big daunting thing. It was easy and it worked.
Even though I proved to myself that it works well to do things a little at a time I still struggle. But it is effective and I encourage you to give it a try.
Balance feels like a dirty word to me. It’s such a difficult concept to grasp, which is why I left it for last. I look at it like a muscle that needs to be used to keep it’s strength though. It’s not some final destination. It’s something you practice and practice and the more you do it the better at it you get.
All or nothing syndrome is something that a lot of INFJs deal with, but it doesn’t have to be a part of our personalities. It’s something that we can work on and overcome. You’re not stuck with it for the rest of your life. With a little work and a lot of self-love and compassion, it can get a lot better.