I cringe mentally when disregulated eaters reinforce their negative, limiting beliefs over and over and don’t even realize it. The worst offender is the word “can’t,” but many other words, phrases and ideas deter growth and prevent healthy thinking and “normal” eating skills from taking hold.

Everything you think and say, especially about what you can and cannot do, impacts your ability to do it. When you recognize that, do you imagine that you’ll never be able to keep track of everything that runs through your mind or slips out of your mouth? If so, you prove my point: You limit your growth when you think you “can’t” pay attention to what’s going on inside you most of the time when the fact is, you can, you can, you can.

People who practice mindfulness do precisely that—observe what’s going through their heads and their hearts—as a matter of course. Are they perfect at it? Of course not. But through practice, they become so used to being self-affirming and speaking positively to and about themselves, that their brain simply grooves and moves in this direction. Gone are the “can’ts” as well as the “shoulds.” Even when mindful people have done or said something they regret, they usually realize it afterwards and stop and rework the belief.

To do this, you must always (yes, always) listen to your thoughts and words. Disregulated eaters often let their thoughts rule them and speak without considering the impact of their words. I frequently urge my message board members to reread their posts and count the times they (or others) say things like, I try but I can’t or I’m not good at or I’m not able to. Each time you utter these kinds of beliefs, you’re more deeply encoding them into your brain.. If you want change the message, you’ll have to be vigilant about altering your thoughts and the way you choose to express them.

Much of what I do as a therapist is correcting clients when they tell me what they can’t do, how impossible a task is, or what a failure they are. I am their ears until they can learn to hear themselves more clearly. I can tell when clients are getting healthier because they express limiting beliefs less frequently, or get out half a limiting belief, then turn it into a positive—or at least a neutral—statement. This work is not as hard as you might think. Once you get into the habit of listening to yourself, you’ll begin to catch your negative thoughts and correct them on the spot. After a while, you won’t say them as much and you’ll have new positive and productive thoughts to replace them. Start this process today, right now. Make it a point to stay tuned to the you channel 24/7.