All-or-nothing thinking causes people to lose the ability to see the middle-ground. This happens to a lot of people when they think about the consequences of their mistakes. In their mind, one bad move now could very likely cause a disastrous future.
People with OCPD avoid making mistakes at all costs because their all-or-nothing thinking hyperbolizes the consequences.
Inaction is the unfortunate result of such unforgiving thinking. The person with OCPD will not take action, will not decide, and will not commit in hopes of having all options still available to him or her. In reality, however, it is this inaction that is responsible for so many missed great opportunities. But while others recognize the destructiveness of such inaction, people with OCPD convince themselves through rationalization that their inaction was necessary to protect themselves from making a terrible mistake. Consequently, many people with OCPD continue to live their lives missing out on great opportunities.
This is an original song that I composed four years ago about missing the opportunity to meet a girl because of my nature to think and plan too excessively.
SO WHAT NOW?
HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OCPD):
Understand that your inaction is not just causing you to miss opportunities, but it is likely causing others to miss opportunities as well. If you want to live a sad life watching your opportunities pass by, do it alone. Do not bring others down with you by forcing them to follow your inaction. Remind yourself that people are people, not “options” that you can just keep around until you figure out what you really want. When others make mistakes that affect you, do not allow your all-or-nothing thinking to hyperbolize the consequences. Train yourself to accurately assess the consequences of their mistakes, forgive, and move on. Learn to be more accepting of others’ mistakes by understanding that humankind is imperfect.
HOW TO CO-EXIST WITH THE OTHER (OTHERS):
Although you would like your OCPD friend to take action, decide, or commit to something right now, understand that, as long as he or she has this fear of making mistakes, action will probably not take place in your preferred timing. As your OCPD friend is very sensitive to pressure, pressuring him or her to take action will only push him or her away even further. Although ultimatums may cause your OCPD friend to take rash action, once pressure lightens up again, your OCPD friend will probably go back to his or her inactive ways. You can help diminish your friend’s fear by asking questions that lead to the identification of the “middle-ground” of consequences. You can also help your OCPD friend be pulled towards a certain action by giving absolutely no pressure at all – playing “hard to get” might even pull them in even more. When you do make a mistake, try not to take their overreaction so personally. Show that you are sorry while helping your OCPD friend (through questions) recognize that the actual consequences of your mistake are not as bad as the extreme ones that he or she is imagining.
HOW TO LET GO OF YOUR FEAR OF MISTAKES (OCPD):
You must understand that your inaction is your enemy, not your friend. As long as you continue to comfort yourself by rationalizing that your inaction protects you from making terrible mistakes, you will continue to miss opportunities in your life. Stop yourself from rationalizing. Accept that you have missed opportunities because of your fear. Be angry that your fear controls you. Don’t let it control you anymore and take action the next time an opportunity arises. Consider everything in your life right now as opportunities.