Dysregulated eaters often feel like failures because they haven’t lost weight, kept it off, stopped bingeing/overeating/mindless eating, quit obsessing about the number on the scale, or have yet to establish “normal” eating patterns. They feel like failures and tell themselves that they’ll never succeed, and this focus reduces the likelihood of moving forward and increases the odds of backsliding or staying stuck.
Here are two quotes by successful men which reframe lack of success. The first is by Winston Churchill: “Success is going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm.” I had this quote taped to my computer for years when I began writing. It helped enormously for me to see it every time I sat down to write, making me feel as if Churchill were my personal coach cheering me on. The second is by Thomas Edison: “I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.”
Each quote, in its own way, reframes the meaning of failure. To these two great, high-achievers, each reframing takes away the sting of failure. Moreover, each puts a helpful spin on it—that failure is simply something that can’t help but happen on the road to success, that it is not an end in itself, but a resting place on the way to somewhere else.
Many dysregulated eaters get hung up on their eating failures. The truth is that what they perceive to be a relapse or a lack of progress is nothing more than learning, pure and simple. Their problem is that they already feel like failures on some level, and that is their default setting. They don’t register successes and only focus on what they didn’t do or what they have yet to do. The more you understand that you will never succeed until you change your meaning of failure, the more quickly you’ll progress. (Use the search feature on my blog page to find my numerous blogs on “success” and “failure”).
Many dysregulated eaters have low self-esteem and self-worth to begin with, and have long felt defective, damaged or not good enough. Viewing their lives through a lens of inadequacy, they fit failure, progress, and success into this mindset. Then, to avoid feeling like a failure, they mistakenly shoot for perfection. Alternately, if you don’t have a perfectionistic bent, you wish and hope to do well, but don’t need to be perfect to combat feeling defective because you never thought you were in the first place.
Make a new meaning of failure. Choose one of the quotes above to be your mantra or find or create one of your own. Reframe every “mistake” or “misjudgment” as necessary learning and let it go. Paradoxically, by making failure intrinsic to success, you give yourself a better shot at succeeding. Start thinking that failing brings learning and learning produces success.