One of the major reasons—if not the one—that people fail to achieve success is that they focus on exactly the wrong things to make it happen. According to success psychology, there are three ways of thinking to help you attain and maintain your goals. I bet they’re just the opposite of what you’ve been doing! Here they are.
- Focus on what you’re doing well
Most dysregulated eaters focus almost exclusively on what they’re doing or have done wrong. They obsess over their food failures—binges and mindless eating—and minimize their successes—stopping occasionally when full or making healthier food choices—if they acknowledge them at all. In fact, I usually need to drag their successes out of them. Successful people feel good about what they’re doing well, focus on it, and enjoy the pride they experience from their achievements.
- Learn from, then stop focusing on, what you didn’t do well
Errors are a typical and often exclusive focus of dysregulated eaters. They dwell on what they did wrong, recalling and analyzing every battle with food they’ve ever lost. They tell me about these incidents in excruciating detail and it makes them feel hopeless and despairing. Instead of objectively looking at behaviors that disappoint them, learning from them and forgetting about them, they beat themselves up mercilessly over their perceived failures and dwell on them forever.
- Focus on what you’ve done, not on what you have left to do
Even when clients are somewhat or fairly successful, they’ll make sure to tell me that they still have gobs of work to do, which immediately overshadows their feelings of pride in achievement and makes them feel overwhelmed and hopeless. In recovery, there is generally more to learn and more work to do. This is true of most triumphs. Successful people don’t focus on what they haven’t done or have yet to do. It’s a waste of time and brings them down. Instead, they concentrate on what they’ve accomplished which makes them feel gratified and empowered, spurring them on.
Do you focus on times you refrain from eating when not hungry, make appetite-cued food choices, eat mindfully, and stop when full or satisfied? Or do you dwell on times you failed to do so? Does your mind often wander back to “failures” or do you intentionally seek out and feel proud of memories of success? Do you obsess about what you haven’t accomplished or what’s still left to do, or ignore the future and simply concentrate on the present? By the way, this approach isn’t useful only in recovering from eating problems. It works for any endeavor you’re undertaking, from doing your taxes to mowing the lawn.