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A message board (http://groups.yahoo.com/group/nicegirlsfinishfat) member asked an interesting question about confidence: “From what I understand, confidence comes from success. But if someone like me hasn't had success in the eating department, how am I supposed to build up confidence to get it sorted out once and for all?”

This is one of those chicken-and-egg dilemmas: Does confidence lead to success or does success lead to confidence? The answer is that both are true. When you’re able to eat “normally” for a day or a week, you gain confidence, that is, the feeling that you are competent at feeding yourself well and may be able to continue in the future. In this way, successful repetition of functional behavior leads to increasing faith in self and self-assurance. As well, when you feel positive about your ability to feed and nourish yourself effectively, you are more likely to do so, increasing behavioral sticking power.

Confidence and success, excuse the pun, feed into each other in an upward spiral. It doesn’t matter which comes first. Each helps you achieve the other. Maybe one day you set an intention to eat “normally” all day and find it isn’t so hard after all. Or you notice that you haven’t dieted or binged lately which encourages you to think that you can change. Alternately, you may work on building self-esteem and self-confidence with food and in other areas of your life by challenging and reframing dysfunctional beliefs, eliminating negative self-talk, enjoying feeling proud, and asserting yourself more often. These activities generate a felt sense that you are worthy and can take care of yourself.

To reiterate, building success and confidence don’t take place exclusively in the eating arena. In fact, that’s not how becoming a “normal” eater actually comes about. This change develops from reframing limiting beliefs about all areas of life, growing and stretching your attitudes, engaging in activities you’ve never engaged in before, enhancing life skills across the board, and ending negative, unhealthy patterns. For instance, when you set better limits with others, you start to do it more with yourself; when you expect better treatment from others, you end up being nicer to yourself; when you stop looking to others to meet your needs, you take on that quest for yourself.

Each of these changes makes you a more functional, skilled person which, in turn, increases your ability to eat “normally” with greater skill, success and confidence. Rather than aim for achieving these ends, keep your focus on your daily decisions about food and your body and you will end up gaining both confidence and success.

Weight Discrimination
Borderline Personality Disorder

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