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Nothing thwarts recovery from food problems more than not believing that it’s okay to succeed—not only that success is acceptable, but that it’s a good thing. It’s shocking how many disregulated eaters grow up with the belief that it’s wrong to succeed, and this belief then becomes a major obstacle to feeling positive about achievement. Whether we’re talking overcoming eating problems or triumphing in other areas of life, what you believe about success is an essential prerequisite to making it happen.
Many disregulated eaters have mixed feelings about success because you were raised to think that a trail of accomplishments will lead you to becoming arrogant, boastful, self-righteous, snooty, and unpopular. Nothing could be farther from the truth. We’re talking apples and oranges here. These traits are not a consequence of success, but are characteristics of people independent of achievement or a lack thereof.
Let’s take a look at specific unhealthy, irrational beliefs (IR) you might have about success and how to reframe them to make them healthy and rational (R).
IR: If I succeed, I will think I’m better than everyone else; R: I don’t think I’m better than anyone else whether I succeed or not.
IR: Success leads to arrogance, boasting, and having a swelled head; R: I can succeed and still be modest about my achievements
IR: Pride cometh before the fall; R: Pride is a healthy, natural feeling stemming from achievement.
IR: If I succeed, people won’t like me; R: If I succeed, people will still like me.
There are variations about success being a negative that might be unique to you and what you learned in childhood. The point is that SUCCESS IS A POSITIVE GOAL. If you’re struggling to recover from eating problems and don’t believe that, well, you’re working against yourself. Remember that beliefs are the foundations for your feelings and behaviors and that intentions must align with behavior. If your unconscious goal is to fail because you’re too uncomfortable with success to tolerate it, then you will continue to shoot yourself in the foot and will never reach your eating or weight goals!
Consider what your family believed and modeled about success and what you learned about it from them. If you believe anything short of success being awesome, then it’s back to the drawing board for you and your beliefs. Change them now, succeed later.
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