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Were You Raised with the Best Tools for Success?
Most of my clients with dysregulated eating weren’t raised with a set of effective life skills that support eating disorder recovery. Worse, when they falter on the way to achieving their goals, they behave in exactly the wrong ways to help them assess why, correct course, and move forward. If you weren’t taught how to pursue goals, yet want to become a “normal” eater, you’ll need to change how you think about success.
Here are some examples from my practice over the decades of the ways that parents fail to model and teach children how to successfully reach their goals. Parents:
- sporadically stop addictive behaviors such as drinking or taking drugs for a while, then relapse, but refuse to get help, insisting they just need to exert more will power
- let themselves be emotionally abused by a spouse for whom they make excuses
- hate to see you struggle, so they do your homework and school projects for you
- always take the easy way out or avoid doing anything that might be difficult
- push themselves or others, including you, too hard
- expect more of themselves or others, including you, beyond what is realistic
- demand perfection of themselves and others, including you
- become angry at themselves or others, including you, for making mistakes
- are scared of failure and view it as shameful
- are self-judgmental rather than curious when they don’t succeed
- are impatient and impulsive rather than persistent and intentional
- speak negatively rather than positively to themselves and others
- focus on failures and mistakes rather than on successes and progress
Eating disorder recovery requires the following abilities and traits: frustration tolerance, delaying gratification, curiosity, persistence, patience, self-compassion, understanding the change process, being your best cheerleader, perseverance, asking for help when necessary, learning from but not focusing on mistakes, stick-to-it-iveness and stoking self-empowerment. You will never recover if you’re hard on yourself and employ negative self-talk. Instead, you’ll want to screen every thought you have and every word you say to yourself and others about your progress. You’ll want to be optimistic that with time and effort you will reach your goal and refuse to entertain thoughts of failure, though you may have relapses and make mistakes that make success seem far away.
If you didn’t learn success skills growing up, now is the time to read books, listen to podcasts, and watch TED talks about them. Or find a therapist to help you.