How to Escape the All or Nothing Prison

you have the keys to your freedom

Posted By: TeamTKN

The mindset

In our culture, we generally agree that an all-or-nothing, black and white mindset leads to dysfunction. Still, despite how vilified this mindset might be, it has as strong a foothold in our culture and personal values as ever. 


It is common for people to wear their all-or-nothing mindset like a badge of honor. Maybe you’ve noticed this. Maybe you are like this.

You go through a period of incredible achievement, make a mistake and then dive head first into extreme self-sabotage. 

But you just shrug and say, “well, I’m just all or nothing.” Effectively writing off your destructive behavior as a personality trait.


The Cycle

If you set up extreme expectations for yourself or others, then everyone will inevitably fall short. This failure fuels a self-fulfilling cognitive behavioral delusion proving that you (or anyone else you set expectations for) are weak, careless, resistant and stupid.


Do you see how this kind of thinking only serves to give you permission to treat yourself (and others) inhumanely?

Have you ever used these ridiculous standards to give yourself permission to act like a total wretch?

Do you then leverage that negativity to treat yourself even worse, eventually cruising your own spirit (and everyone else’s)?

Dr. Trevor Kashey

And when this cycle is repeated enough times, you are left broken of mind and broken of body.


Failure, labeling and criticism leads to pathological overcompensation. This process destroys your self-efficacy and leaves you feeling like a shell, capable of only modest robot-like functionality.


Scores of people with all-or-nothing mindsets have a difficult time enjoying anything. Ever.


If they ever manage to enjoy something, it’s like a flag goes off in their brains, telling them to compensate for their joy with an extra serving of guilt.


And the spiral continues.


The good news is that there IS a solution to this swirling garbage vortex AND YOU ARE CAPABLE OF SUCH SOLUTION




Try this:


Make a list of all the things you have actively banned from your life; all the things that you MUST avoid or else immediately brand yourself as a failure.


You have probably restricted these foods, behaviors, people or activities because when you experienced them, you ended up feeling bad in some way. 


So you:

  • Drew deeper lines in the sand
  • Doubled down on your all-or-nothing mindset
  • Fueled the self-destructive spiral

But REINTEGRATION (rather than restriction) of these things is how you break the cycle and cut off guilt, shame and embarrassment. Reintegration, in a controlled environment, is how you learn to enjoy and moderate your response.


Imagine ACTUALLY enjoying these things, foods, peoples and activities again on your own terms.


Doesn’t that sound better than only being able to experience the things you love when you freak out, blow out, and binge?


What if, instead of banning these things (and thus FIXATING on them) you started purposefully incorporating them into your life?



  • Vaccinates yourself towards the stimulus
  • Keeps all the behavior within your control in a safe environment
  • Allows you to set reasonable benchmarks

You move forward.

You will make mistakes. 


But by making these mistakes, you will LEARN to course correct. 


And you will begin to break free from your all-or-nothing prison.


How do you start?

Equip yourself. 


In any circumstance, if anyone (especially you) makes a mistake, and you find yourself thinking: “This whole thing is done. It’s impossible to recover”


Your automatic response is:


“This is permission to act nasty to others or myself. Correction is one decision away.”


(Personalize this in any way that speaks to you.)


Making mistakes is only as big of a problem as you make it out to be.


Realizing this is simultaneously frustrating and liberating:


It’s frustrating because you are responsible for building your own prison


It’s liberating because you also have the key to freedom.


The compound effect goes both ways. You can reintroduce feedback loops that pull you closer to where you want to be. You could reinforce feedback loops that push you away.


Mistakes are coming. This is unavoidable. 


Leveraging honest mistakes into deluding yourself that you must now make many more mistakes? This is completely avoidable.


If you knew you could break the cycle or failure and despair, would you have continued down the same path?


Or would you have saved yourself years or decades of pain and struggle?


WILL YOU save yourself decades of pain and struggle?


The shift is simple, but it is not easy. 


Most of us have spent a lifetime reinforcing this destructive all-or-nothing mindset. I am no exception. 


But with the love and support of the entire TKN team at my back, I am not afraid to fail. 


I am free from the cycle. 

Dr. Trevor Kashey explains the outcomes of extreme expectations for yourself or others.

The shift is simple, but not easy.

The cycle

  1. The further you fall short
  2. The harder you try
  3. The more mistakes you compound 


About Jacquelyn Laporte

Jacquelyn LaPorte has had the privilege of working with TKN since 2018. The journey has been a wild one, but it has ushered her into the driver’s seat of her own life. She learned how to ask questions, answer them honestly and act on the answers. She has used this process to become a better parent to her 3 kids, a better wife, a better boss, a better learner, a better human. She believes that no experience is wasted, (not even majoring in a dead language with no career plan😊 or starting a business with 0 entrepreneurial spirit). Each experience gives the gift of new eyes. Perfect choices are not required, and that makes her free to choose.


“There are a thousand thousand reasons to live this life, and every one of them sufficient.”

-Marilynne Robinson-

Trevor Kashey Nutrition

Team TKN

Team TKN cultivates, curates and shares Dr. Trevor Kasheys’ stories and core principles, to help others achieve an extraordinary life.

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