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Ep. 109 – All or Nothing

Are your “All or Nothing” thoughts slowing down your healing process after your divorce? In this episode Jeff and Doreen discuss what a “All or Nothing” mindset is and how this one dimensional thinking can effect your future growth in your life.


Doreen: Hey everyone. Today we’re gonna explore in this episode, all or nothing thinking and how that type of thinking can hold you back from getting past your divorce and on with a beautiful life. So if you’re ready, let’s get started.

Are you ready to create a life that’s better than ever before? We are Doreen Yaffa and Jeff Wilson, and we are here to give you the strategies you need to create the life after divorce that you deserve and desire. As partners both in marriage and coaching, we use our expertise as well as our own personal experiences to help you make the next chapter of your life the best chapter.

Hey, Jeff.

Jeff: Hello there, Doreen. How are you?

Doreen: I’m good. I’m good. I’m good. I’ve been working at the other office.

Jeff: Yes. It’s nice to see you.

Doreen: Nice to see you. It’s a little weathery outside.

Jeff: Yes

Doreen: Stormy outside.

Jeff: We just had a big rain, storm go through just now.

Doreen: This is August in Florida.

Jeff: Hurricane season.

Doreen: That kind of goes with the all or nothing mentality, right? I think it does. People think about. Sunny Florida, what do they call it?

Jeff: The sunshine state.

Doreen: The Sunshine State. It’s not always sunshine, so it’s not all or nothing. Sometimes it’s beautiful and sunshine, and sometimes it’s stormy like it is right now. So that kind of plays right into our podcast. And in Florida what we say is, if you don’t like the weather,

Jeff: Wait five minutes or 10 minutes.

Doreen: Just wait in a few minutes.

Jeff: Wait a few minutes.

Doreen: Yeah, because the weather comes and goes.

Jeff: It’ll change.

Doreen: Which is really interesting because, you know, feelings, bad feelings come and go. Good feelings come and go. So kind of interesting that correlates with kind of like the weather.

Jeff: I do.

Doreen: Right?

Jeff: I think it does.

Doreen: Yes. If you just wait a little bit. Sometimes the bad feelings, they can go away.

Jeff: Yeah. It’s not always sunny and it’s not always cloudy.

Doreen:  So let’s talk to our friends about divorce. One of the things that I’ve heard often is someone will say, you know, but he caused the divorce or she caused a divorce. Another thing I commonly hear is, like if you, if someone is saying, like, when I said I was getting divorced, people would say, oh, I’m so sorry. You know, that must be horrible.

And the all or nothing mentality basically is that things are not all good. We’re all bad, right? We always teach that life is a balance of 50 50. It may not meaning 50 good, 50 bad. It may not be all 50 50 in a particular day. It may be in periods of times, you know, such as when you’re going through a divorce, that’s likely the bad time. Right?

Jeff: Exactly. Yeah.

Doreen: But let’s think about it. You know, when you are of the mentality of all or nothing that your marriage was, you know, horrible or it was a failure. There was a point likely in your marriage that it was not a failure, that it was good, right? Obviously when you got married, it was good.

When you brought children into the world, it was a beautiful thing, right? And there were, I’m sure if you look back, there were many happy times, but unfortunately, the way that our human brain works, it likes to be with this all or nothing mentality. So when you’re going through a divorce, your thought is, it’s bad and it’s all bad.

Right? And especially if your ex is the one who, from your perspective, sorry, from your thought process caused the divorce. But as I suggest. First of all, your marriage is not all bad. There must have been some good parts to it, right? So when people used to say to me, I’m so sorry you’re going through a divorce, or, you know, this is horrible, I said, you know, I would, I would smile and go, you know, we had many beautiful years together.

We have three beautiful children together. I mean, it helps you to move past the resentment and the anger and the hurt towards the other person when you can realize that your marriage was not all bad. You know, there’s like a sense of what, like peace almost.

Jeff: Yeah. It overcomes you. I know, I’ve heard, you know, my ex ruined my life.

Doreen: Oh, true.

Jeff: And then, well, I mean, did they really ruin your life? Cause I know you had a life before you met and you have a life coming up after divorce too.

Doreen: Correct.

Jeff: That’s certainly not ruined either.

Doreen: Or the divorce ruined me or something like this.

Jeff: Yeah, something like that. Or my, even just to a little thing, like my day was awful.

Doreen: Right. Yeah. I’m sure that not all of a particular day is awful. Right? There had to be. Look, if you woke up in the morning, that’s a good thing.

Jeff: Yeah. Some people will agree with that

Doreen: And maybe most of the day was pretty sucky, you know? But if that’s a word, but you know what I’m saying? It’s like just having that open mind that not everything is all good or all bad, I think helps to help our listeners to heal. Right? And to have a gentler and kinder thought and feeling about forgiveness in the past for whatever did go wrong. Right. Recognizing there was good and also moving forward, right?

Jeff: I think that the all or nothing mindset can stifle your, your healing process and it can move you away from a better life after divorce.

Doreen: Well, certainly because if you are, if you have the all or nothing mentality about your ex and it’s all bad, the all, he’s all bad or she’s all bad mentality, all that energy, that’s, you know, expending in your thoughts about that and the feelings that come with that, those types of thoughts, which are not nice feelings, or negative feelings are usually hurt, anger, sadness, those types of things. So the thing is to bring awareness to that. And I know Jeff, you wanted to talk about another point about what moving forward.

Jeff: Well, well, I think that if one of the most dangerous thoughts that you could have is blaming yourself fully for the divorce.

Doreen: Yes. For those of you out there that are dealing with a lot of blame, for whatever reason, maybe you decided to call the marriage quit, you know, you wanted, you  were the one that filed for the divorce or said to your exes and you know, it’s just not working out or maybe you did something that was the straw that broke the camel’s back kind of thing.

You know, we tend to be very, very hard on ourselves. More so than we would on even a stranger, and sometimes harder even on ourselves than we would be on someone we don’t even like. Right?

It’s so easy to be very hard on ourselves, and if you are dealing with a lot of guilt and feel that you’re to blame for the divorce, let me suggest to kind of put on the thought process that it is typically not one person who caused a divorce. A divorce generally doesn’t generally, and that’s generally doesn’t happen because of one action. It may be the last action that is the most fresh, and the one that’s focused on even, and I’m gonna say this gently, in situations when you have someone who’s cheated, you know, it’s very easy to focus in that he’s the cheater and so he’s bad, and this is why we’re getting divorced, but I just want you to try on for size, okay.

Having experience with, you know, basically going on, what is it, 29, 30 years of handling divorce cases, it’s not just one act. If someone is the person that’s, I guess to blame for that last act that caused the, that’s the end for me. I’m done. You really have to take some self-responsibility. You have to look at yourself and say, you know, did I contribute to this? Like, was I partially to blame or to be account, should I be accountable for the end of the marriage? You know, were there things that I did? Because if you don’t do that, you don’t learn. You place all the blame on someone else for being a hundred percent bad and you don’t grow or learn from it. If you cannot take responsibility for your own. Your own part in it.

Jeff: Right. And I think the word partially is a big, important word that you use there because you can think about it and say, oh yes, I am to blame. No, but there are two people.

Doreen: It’s not a hundred percent one person.

Jeff: There’s two people that are, or the reason, I don’t even like the word blame, but two people that are the reason why the marriage ended.

Doreen: And you know, it’s hard for a lot of people to hear that because it’s very easy to hold onto, you know, your thought is it’s very easy to hold onto placing the blame a hundred percent on someone else, right?

Jeff: Yeah. You know, one thing I remember we were, you were talking to a client this morning. And you had said, and I think they were blaming themselves. I didn’t hear the whole conversation, but you had mentioned, what would you say to your friend, right, that was blaming everything on herself? What would you say to your friend? Yeah. You probably are more sympathetic to your friend than you are to yourself.

Doreen: Well, when, when we coach people, we do that, or at least I do a lot that a lot. I was coaching someone who was very down on herself and was not really, well, let me just give the situation. She started dating somebody else, and they have from what she explained, they have a very, you know, there everything is going really well and I guess for whatever reason he wanted to, and I’m not, divulging any confidences here, so, you know, I won’t say any names or anything, but he wants to take a, a break and she was feeling that she was probably to blame for that because of maybe some of the ways that she was reacting and, you know, arguing with him from time to time and, you know, just explain some of the situations and maybe felt that she was pushing him away. And what I said to her was, let’s take a deep breath here first, but let’s also look at, you know, how you are being so harsh on yourself.

Right. And I suggested to her, what would you say to your best friend who came to you with the same, you know, conversation that we just had? Right. And she stopped and she said, well, I would tell her that it wasn’t all her fault and how wonderful she is. And that if he wants to take a break, let ’em take a break that you, that you deserve.

You know, someone who really wants to be with you, and if this person doesn’t wanna be with you, that’s okay. Like, that’s the way she was talking to her friend. And I said, well, why don’t we try that on for size for you to talk to yourself. Right. We’re so hard on ourselves, aren’t we?

Jeff: We are.

Doreen: It’s amazing how many people just, I mean, we all do it. We all do it

Jeff:  I mean, the all or nothing mentality is also known as the perfectionist mortality, right? Mentality. That if you’re not perfect at something, you’re not gonna do it.

Doreen: Right.

Jeff: You know, it’s all or nothing.

Doreen: Yeah, that’s a big thing. I know that for business purposes, you know, when I am just talking business right now for a minute, but, you know, sometimes getting B work out there in the world as a business owner as opposed to making it absolutely perfect.

You know, like this podcast episode, like we could make this absolutely perfect. It’s not perfect right now. We get that. I understand that, but at least we’re doing it. Yeah. At least it’s here. It’s better than, you know, procrastinating and not getting it out there.

Jeff: Well, if we think it’s perfect, that doesn’t mean our listeners are gonna think it’s perfect.

Doreen: Well, I don’t think that anything that I have ever done in my entire life is perfect. I don’t believe, I mean, I personally just don’t. I’m not one to believe that there’s perfection. And remember, what do they say? Beauties in the eyes of the holder. I would say suggest maybe perfection is as well, because it’s not the same for everyone.

What I think is perfect is not what you think is perfect. Right. Or what our listeners think is perfect.

Jeff: Yeah. But what I’m talking about here is if I want perfection for myself, that’s gonna stifle me from ever trying something and ever making mistakes and ever moving forward and ever failing at things.

So it’s gonna stifle my growth in anything I do in my life, right? Whether it is business or it is relationships, or with my children, we’re gonna make mistakes, right? So it’s very, very difficult to move forward and heal. If you have that all or nothing mentality.

Doreen: Well, as part of being a human, we’re not perfect. You know, I always say, like you said with children, I think.  You know, they didn’t come out with manuals with them and said, Hey, this is the perfect way of raising me. Which by the way, if you have kids and we have four, you don’t raise them all the same. You know, kids always say, well, how come he got away with that, or she got to do that?

And it’s very hard to explain to kids as they’re growing up, well, because they need a little push over here and you know, I’m parroting you different. Right. You know, it’s just something we do. But you know, this, I think you had said, I’m not sure if you said this earlier, but someone that will say something like, my day was just awful.

Right. You know, that kind of, it’s such a simple statement, it seems so, you know, like, just

Jeff: It’s infinite. I mean, it’s such a huge, how could you have a ruin everything when it’s a little bit of a piece of you.

Doreen: But what I’m suggesting that’s not where I was going.

Jeff: Go ahead.

Doreen: Because you cut me off, but that’s okay. But what I was trying to say is if you say something as simple as, my day was awful. It seems like it doesn’t matter. It’s a statement. Sometimes we say, we say it just, you know, on the fly and you know, somebody will say, how was your day? It was awful.

But those little things matter when you start to change your mentality and grow as an individual, as a person to reach your goals and to heal from your divorce. Those little comments, those little things that you think about this all or nothing. My day was horrible. I mean, day my day was great. Is not settling. It’s not comforting.

Jeff: It doesn’t serve you.

Doreen: It doesn’t serve you. You can say, you know, somebody says to you, you know, how was your day? You know, it’s okay to say my day was great, or my day was awful, but you know, do you really mean that? Do you really mean that your entire day was awful? Right.

Jeff: Yeah. So as always tomorrow.

Doreen: Well, yeah. Well then today, then tomorrow will be part good and part bad.

Jeff: Absolutely.

Doreen: I also wanna suggest that I think it would be a kinder world. I’m just gonna throw this out there, if we all maybe realized that you know, not every, everybody’s all good or all bad.

And that even people that we see as horrible people, you know, think about somebody that did something horrific and you can pick, you know, just turn on the news and listen to it.

Jeff: That’s true.

Doreen: I mean, really, I don’t even have to come up with an example, nor do I want to, but we all know what I’m talking about. That person at their action and what you’re seeing on the news agreed. Most people in the world would find that horrific. Would find that awful. Right? Would find that. So, just something that is unforgivable. But that person that did that act, not that we’re forgiving the action was a child once was born, a baby and a toddler and a young person, and was not a horrible, awful person.

Their entire life wasn’t like that. They made choices that now place them in, you know, circumstances where they’re going to jail and they’re gonna pay for the consequences of their actions, right? So even people that, I would suggest we see as horrible on every level.

Jeff: Yeah. And, you know, you can even take it to another step and say, ideas that we have, thoughts that we have. Thoughts aren’t always good or bad. They can be good and bad ideas can be good. Ideas can be bad and most often we’re right and we’re also wrong. So there’s, you know, like I said, you know, again, that all or nothing mentality also is known as the black and white mentality. There’s shades of gray, right? There’s different ways of looking at things, and if you train your brain to have those thoughts of, let me look at this in a different light.

Doreen: That’s what I’m saying. It can be a kinder world.

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: You know, when you look at politics, we’re gonna be having an election next year. So we’re gonna be inundated with all that. And you know, there’s such division in our country right now and it’s really sad that there’s such hate being slung back, you know, both sides. Right. But think about it maybe is that, you know, for us, for me as an example, there are certain things with one political affiliation that I agree with you know, maybe a number of things and the other things maybe not so much. And then with the other party, I agree with certain things and then other things not so much. And so maybe you get aligned with one particular political party or even a candidate because you are of the mindset that, oh, that resonates with me. That’s something that I really agree with we’re in touch, but I would venture to say that if you looked at a politician’s stand on everything, you would probably not agree with a hundred percent of what this person has to say and their positions. Right? So couldn’t it be just a kinder world if we recognize that and just gave a little more respect to that gray area, right?

Jeff: Yeah. You reminded me of a story that I want to tell you that is the other day when I had to take an Uber home and the Uber driver, almost the whole way home was talking about politics and about the debate.

Doreen: The Republican debate.

Jeff: Yeah, the Republican debate. But what was interested in what he said, he went candidate by candidate and I mean every single candidate.

Doreen: It was a long ride home.

Jeff: It was a long ride home and it was a little bit longer.

Doreen: Oh, you remember you were coming from Fort Lauderdale or Dier or something? That’s pretty far.

Jeff:  And he was like, this is what I loved about him. This is what I didn’t like about him. This is what I loved about him. This is what I didn’t like about him. I like this about her. I don’t like, so he was totally shades of gray, giving each candidate kudos and what he took a stand on and didn’t like about it. I thought it was a very interesting that he had that kind of perspective. That everybody could see the good and bad in everybody.

Doreen:  From his perspective and what he believes in, right?

Jeff: Yeah. Very interesting.

Doreen: So let’s just say that when we understand that life is about things like succeeding after divorce and failing, you will succeed, you will fail. You’re gonna get it right sometimes when you rebuild your life. And sometimes you’re gonna get it wrong. Sometimes you’re going to be a good person, you know, in whatever the situations are that are arising from your divorce and or if you’re in the middle of it. And sometimes maybe you’re not gonna be such a good person, you’re gonna be maybe a bad person sometimes, or a mean person. There’s freedom in that. There’s freedom in knowing that just by using the word and instead of, or it’s like you’re not all good or bad. You’re not gonna make all the best choices or the worst choices. It gives you a sense of, you know,

Jeff: I think it gives you a sense of balance.

Doreen: Well, it gives you a sense of like relief, I think too, right?

Jeff: Yeah. I mean, if you have a sense, this sense of understanding about good and bad and 50 50 and when you are bad, you cut yourself a break.

Doreen: Absolutely. Going back to the talk to yourself with kindness. Yeah. You know, it’s, I checked up on, our client earlier before we start our podcast, I just called her up and just, and she’s doing okay, but I just said, you know, remember when you start to be tough on yourself, you’re not all bad. Okay? Right. Talk to yourself like you would talk to your best friend because you are your best friend, especially when you’re going through a divorce.

Especially when you’re healing and recovering from divorce, you know, we understand that it’s a trying time. You will get stronger. It’s not gonna be all bad getting through the divorce. It’s not gonna be all good. Yeah. Right.

Jeff: And I know there’s, there’s some even some questions you can even ask yourself. You know, what if, let’s say I’m blaming myself for this all or nothing mentality, well, what really happened. Right? Because typically if you’re blaming yourself for everything, it’s not totally the truth. So you ask yourself, what really happened? Or what are you making this mean? Okay. That you’re, you’re the blame for everything.

How is this affecting you and or where’s your proof that this is really the way it happened? And I think that you’ll see a different perspective.

Doreen: Well, exactly. I think like sometimes walking away from it in your own mind. And maybe talking with a coach like us, a coach like our client earlier was talking to me or maybe talking to a trusted family member or a really good friend, seeing it from their perspective, you know, and ask them maybe if you need to, if it depends on your relationship, you know, we will always be honest with you.

That’s one thing, you know. What we do in coaching is we help you to uncover your real thoughts. And to question them and to convert them into hopefully a different thought that’s gonna serve you and bring you the results you want in your life. I mean, that’s kind of coaching in a 1 0 1 nutshell, right?

It’s taking those negative thoughts that cause negative feelings that cause negative actions and negative results and changing them, but we don’t slam it down your throat. What we’re trying to do is get you to recognize it. But if you’re not in coaching and we do, you know, of course we want you to come and have a, a complimentary session with us and learn more about what we do and how we work.

But talk to a friend, then ask them to be honest with you, like, what do they really, really think? Not to just yes you and be kind to you by not saying something that maybe might hurt your feelings, but really just be truthful with you. I know that like our moms. They always, they’re not, they’re not afraid to do that. Whenever I call my mom, she’s like, well, lemme tell you what I think.

Jeff: Exactly. Don’t ask about politics.

Doreen: No, no, we don’t. There’s certain subjects in our family, we just keep off the table because, because it’s that all or nothing mentality? You know, with my mom, I’m just gonna say it, you know, she’s not likely gonna listen to the podcast, but if she does, she might be calling me very soon.

But, you know, she’s very, very one positioned on her political affiliation, and if anyone says something different, you know, she’s just, she will not. She’s 80, what? 85 years old?

Jeff: 85, yep.

Doreen: She will not bend. She does not see the gray, which is, oh, I may not agree with your position in politics we’re using as an example, but I can see your perspective. I can respect why you think that way. It’s just not mine. And this is so helpful when you’re healing from divorce because everyone has their own thoughts about your divorce. I’m sure you’ve heard it and you know, if they would, you know, if we could all just be what, a little more in that gray area.

Jeff: Right. Or be an open mind to yourself, right? And kind of see different perspective of things, right? It’s simple but not easy

Doreen: Right? Of course not. Okay, so what else?

Jeff: Well

Doreen: I wanna say one more thing because I dealt with this the other day and oh my gosh, it was such a game changer for me. I was listening to a podcast, Hey, I am gonna give her a plug. It was Rachel Hart. She’s amazing.

Jeff: Love it.

Doreen: And she’s great. She has a podcast called Take a Break. And she was talking, she’s an amazing coach. She went to the same school as we did, and, I flipped onto her station and she was talking about the all or nothing mentality. Why do we permit ourselves to go there? And she used exercise as an example. And you know, I am that type of person. I’m like, all or nothing, you know me.

Jeff: Oh yes.

Doreeb: Okay. And it was like, I have this mentality if I can’t go to the gym for an hour and get a, you know, a structured workout in. Then I just won’t go.

I’ll say, oh, I’ll start it tomorrow if I only have like 15 minutes to do something. She was like, why? You know that 15 minutes, just go for a walk. Just go do some sit-ups. You know, do something. It’s better than not doing that all or nothing, not do, which is the nothing, because a nothing doesn’t build the momentum to get to that hour.

It’s just putting you back into that mentality of not moving forward. Part of getting into any great habit, and it can be a habit of just treating yourself kindly. Whatever you wanna do. Whatever it is that your goal is. Is just to take those little steps on a daily basis, whatever it looks like to get there. Okay.

Jeff: And treat yourself a little better too Doreen, because you have been so much better about that all or nothing mentality, especially when it comes to fitness.

Doreen: Oh, I’m gonna give Rachel a big shout out for that because, you know, I mean, it really, I’m not gonna say that it was, it changed my thinking about it in such a strong way that yeah, like if I only have 20 minutes, I’m gonna do 20 minutes and that’s okay. Yeah. Right. That’s okay.

Jeff: And I just wanna end with this. Changing your thoughts can get you moving faster and closer to the life after divorce you want. Thank you for listening everybody.

Doreen: That’s great. Yep. Alright, so we’re gonna leave on that note. Until next time, have an amazing week. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, be kind to others, and we’ll be back next week.

Jeff: Yes.

Doreen: Bye everyone.

Jeff: Bye-bye. You have the vision of what you want your life to look like after divorce, but maybe you just don’t know how to get there. So if you’re ready to take control of your life and want to find out more about our coaching, visit us at That’s L A D as in life after divorce dash

Doreen: Until next time, have an amazing rest of your day. And remember, yes, you can have an amazing life after divorce.


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