Did Verbal Abuse Cause My All-or-Nothing Mentality?

February 22, 2024 Cheryl Wozny

For some people, an all-or-nothing mentality can be one of the possible results of verbal abuse. However, it isn't just verbally abusive actions that can cause this. Anxiety, depression, and low self-esteem are also commonly linked to an all-or-nothing mentality. 

I've experienced many negative emotions during my verbal abuse journey. Regular exposure to intense screaming, insults, and threats contributed to a contrasting view of relationships. The extreme emotional swings within the cycle of abuse reinforced a black-and-white dynamic that was a common occurrence. 

An All-or-Nothing Mentality In Verbally Abusive Relationships

As I navigated my feelings, my coping mechanisms evolved into extreme thinking. There was never a stable middle ground in my life for many years. If I wasn't doing things right in the eyes of my abuser, I was completely wrong. 

Each mistake I made was magnified and focused on, making me feel worse about myself. So, I lived each day trying to be perfect and avoid any confrontation. The verbal abuse reinforced several absolutes that aligned with this black-and-white mentality, such as: 

  • I will never be enough.
  • I am always screwing things up.
  • I can't do anything right.
  • I'm not smart enough to achieve (a goal).
  • No one likes me.
  • I'll never be happy.

Changing the All-Or-Nothing Perspective 

Through therapy, I've grown to understand that these negative thoughts are not entirely true. I am not perfect, and sometimes, these statements may apply to some degree. Occasionally, someone won't like me, or I make a bad decision, but that doesn't mean I can't learn from these situations. I can grow and change, moving away from this all-or-nothing mentality. I understand that although I'm not 100 percent perfect, I'm not 100 percent a failure either. 

When it comes to my relationships now, I recognize that when my partner is mad at me, it won't result in verbal abuse. Yes, we disagree, but there aren't the insults, name-calling, or threats that were once a part of my life. 

I have the trust I need now to know that even if I make the wrong decision, my partner and I can talk through it. I don't live each day thinking I'm not good enough anymore. And that grace I receive goes both ways. I am more open to communicating with others when I'm upset with their actions. Slowly, I'm building the relationships I need and deserve.

After years of analyzing my past and present relationships, I'm not sure if verbal abuse caused my all-or-nothing mentality. However, I know it's an unhealthy way to live my life. Every day is unique; sometimes, it's a struggle, and other days, I'm feeling great. I remember to take it one day at a time and try not to beat myself up when I'm not 100 percent perfect because I know that I'm not 100 percent a failure either. 

APA Reference
Wozny, C. (2024, February 22). Did Verbal Abuse Cause My All-or-Nothing Mentality? , HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 16 from

Author: Cheryl Wozny

Cheryl Wozny is a freelance writer and published author of several books, including mental health resources for children titled, Why Is My Mommy So Sad? and Why is My Daddy So Sick? Writing has become her way of healing and helping others. Find Cheryl on TwitterInstagramFacebook, and her blog

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