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Confidence versus Discernment in Making Eating Decisions

Many disregulated eaters insist they can’t possibly resolve their eating problems without being confident that they will. Although confidence is touted in generating success, it can be a red herring. Truth is, you can be confident and still make poor decisions, as you well know when you consider the times you’ve felt absolutely certain that you’ll never binge or diet again. So, agreed, confidence is not the key to recovery?
Instead, how about the quality of discernment which is synonymous with judgment, clear-sightedness, discrimination, and insight? Now there are some useful qualities. Your poor track record with food isn’t due to lack of confidence, but to a deficit in discernment—poor insight into the cause of your eating problems, failing to allow yourself to consider consequences, and not taking into account a host of feelings and beliefs which drive disregulated eating.
For example, most of us have seen horror films in which the young hero, after hearing that an alien is on the loose nearby, heads down to the pitch black basement from which emanate other-worldly grunting and growling sounds getting louder with each step he takes. While every fiber of our being silently screams, “No, no, don’t go there!” down, down he goes. In that moment, all the confidence in the world isn’t going to save our hero from what’s lurking at the bottom of those stairs. In fact, confidence is likely to keep him moving and thinking, “I can do this. I’ll be ok.” To the contrary, confirming our worst fears, the next minute he’s attacked by the alien monster.
What would have helped our young hero was discernment. How about if he’d gone back upstairs and gotten a few friends to go with him—or at least a flashlight? Better yet, what about calling the police or, duh, running from the house? Similarly, when you’re full up to your ears and “have” to finish your fries, you don’t need a dose of confidence. You need the ability to see what’s really happening—to exit the fantasy you’re in of how those fries are going to make you feel good and, instead, squarely face the truth: eating them more will make your body feel badly. What you’d benefit from is discernment, seeing the situation clearly while calculating and acknowledging its consequences.
The more you stay connected with the real deal, another name for reality, the better you will do with resolving your eating—or any—problems. Cultivate discernment which, with practice over time, will make you confident in your decisions. Remember, confidence is not certainty born of bravado or false hope. Confidence comes from evidence in your personal history and knowing that you’ll always do what’s best for you.