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Automaticity

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If you’re looking for answers to how to develop eating consistency, Brooke Mathewes and Scott Miller have some great answers. (“Meet You in McGinnis Meadows” (Psychotherapy Networker, Jan-Feb 2020, pp. 46-57) Miller describes what people are looking for as automaticity, or “…doing without having to think about everything we’re doing. Whatever we’re engaged in becomes smoother and with that, our comfort, confidence, and efficiency grows.” It’s performing actions automatically, naturally. Based on their experience training people in attunement, here’s their assessment of who succeeds: “What we can say for sure is that desire explains nothing. Everyone wants to improve their attunement, responsiveness, and outcomes.”

I do think that desire is important—The more wholeheartedly and less ambivalently one wants something, the better they will do in achieving it—but I totally agree that simply wanting something, even really badly, won’t get you anywhere unless you follow Mathewes’ and Miller’s assessment of the “qualities which appear to characterize those who stick with the process,” in this case referring to their focus on the attunement process they’ve taught. People who succeed:

  1. “…are more intentional in their efforts to put what they’ve learned into practice.” 

They’re not waiting for change to happen to them, but know it’s up to them to make it happen. This means monitoring the “quality and outcome” of what they practice. For dysregulated eaters who want to eat slower, this means practicing doing so: taking out food intentionally to eat it slowly and chew it a lot. For those who want to not eat mindlessly, it means noticing when and why they do it and correcting course by not allowing themselves to eat without hungry and intention.

  1. “. . . embody a ‘growth’ versus a ‘fixed’ mindset . . . The degree to which people 

believe effort is associated with improved performance predicts how long they persevere, how much they learn, and what they achieve.” If you believe that others can change their eating but you can’t, forget about succeeding. (see my blog @ https://www.karenrkoenig.com/blog/fixed-versus-growth-mindset). 

  1. “. . . have a system of practice.” They purposefully integrate practice into their daily 

routines, refuse to allow outside distractions to stop them from doing what they set out to do, think about learning as experiential not about success or failure, and get support from others. Rather than try to change on their own, they surround themselves with people like themselves who are also practicing and moving toward a goal.

If you want to improve consistency with “normal” eating, follow the above guidelines.

 

Best,

Karen

 

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