So I have a black and white personality, sometimes refered to as an all or nothing personality, I ether succeed or I fail. The issue with this type of personality is live doesn’t work like that there a very few things in the natural world that are binary. It also causes my definition of success to be very narrow increasing the likelihood of failure. While trying to remain humble to a degree, I have an above average intelligence, this causes my expirences of failure to be reduced, the reason that I mention this is that I believe that it’s this lack of expirences handling failure that over the years have caused an all or nothing way of thinking and for me to form a fear of failure. This has had a negative effect on my life, causing a loss of a sense of accomplishment and contributing in part to my depression. This year however I decided to try and change this, and the solution happened kind of by accident.
The first technique I used, didn’t come from trying to address my black and white personality, but rather to try and improve my health. Last year I wanted to make some changes to start improving my general health, it just so happened that I mentioned this to a friend. She told me about the concept of micro goals. A micro goal is a small but realistic and achievable goal. The first micro goal I set myself was to reduce my Pepsi Max consumption form a whopping 4L a day down to just 25% of that a more reasonable 1L a day. It worked and in more ways than ether myself or my friend intended, I didn’t only achieve the goal and reduce my Pepsi Max consumption but I achieved a sense of accomplishment. Flush with the success of this, I decided to try micro goals elsewhere setting small realistic goals for myself. I then discovered another advantage of micro goals they help whether you succeed or fail. The reason behind this for me is that if they fail then its only a small failure but it starts to allow me to practise failing. Failing is an important live skill, as it is not possible to succeed 100% of the time and so you have to learn to fail. The two keys to dealing with micro goals is to make sure they are small, don’t set over sized goals they will be harder to achieve and also when you do fail they will be far more demoralising. Make sure the goals you set yourself are realistic so they are possible to achieve setting impossibly unrealistic goals will not give you a sense of achievement and will hurt more when you fail. I find that I keep a lot of my micro goals private this means that failure is easier to deal with because you don’t add public humiliation to it, but it does mean that you have to make yourself accountable for these goals. I do this by writing them down in evernote, and then tick them off as I achieve them. The other thing you have to practise is when you do fail for whatever reason that you treat yourself with kindness, don’t get frustrated, down or angry as that will continue to build the belief that failure is unacceptable. The first thing you need to tell yourself when you fail is “Thats ok, I will do better tomorrow”
The second technique is I have an achievement journal is a nice leather bound diary from Moleskin and it sits by my bed. Every night before I get ready for bed I write down things that I have achieved for the day. I don’t allow myself not to write anything. This means that I have to reflect on my day and pick out things that I have achieved. Doing this makes you realise that you do achieve things on a daily basis and they are successes. For example I may have completed my goal of 30 mins of exercise per day. This allows you to learn that there is a scale of achievements and just because I didn’t achieve some massive accomplishment I did achieve something. You find that most days you will have a lot of small achievements and its just about reflecting on those.
I have been practising this for about a month now and it has helped me improve my out look on live. I have written it up because I hope that anyone else who is struggling with a black and white personality can read it and maybe find these techniques useful. There are things that you have to make sure you understand and more over believe one thing is that hacking your mind takes time, effort and discipline. The other thing is that this may not work for you but if it doesn’t then that isn’t a failure because you learned something through it. I want to point out that this is only the techniques I use , if you are really struggling then you should always consult a medical professional.