You Are Your Next Action

When most compulsive eaters eat chaotically, their reaction is overwhelmingly guilt or shame.

In this Inner Shift I want to help you move to a more empowered position.

What follows consists of a series of questions.

Q1 You may have heard of Carol Dweck, the Stanford psychology professor who developed the distinction between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

She says:

In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.

So Q1 is: which mindset do you have, or want to have?

If you answered ‘fixed’, then stop reading.

If you answered ‘growth’, then move on to Q2

Q2 is about your sense of self (I prefer this to self-image or self-esteem, because one focuses to much on how you project yourself into the world, and the other demands that we must love ourselves every minute of every day).

Q2: When you have feelings of guilt, shame or inadequacy after eating compulsively, where have you constructed them from?

Is it (a) from that action or (b) from that action plus your history with food?

I am going to guess that your answer is (b).

Q3 And if your answer is (b), then isn’t that indicative of a fixed mindset?

Don’t feel bad when you realise that in this area of life you are more fixed than growth oriented. If I had to do a parachute jump - or for that matter, have a dental filling - right now, all my proclamations of having a growth mindset would go out of the window.

The point of these questions is not to laugh and point at how you don’t fit neatly into Dweck’s growth group. I don’t believe that anyone does 100%.

No, the point is to help you challenge the seemingly indestructible “logic” of your feelings of inadequacy when you eat chaotically or compulsively.

“I binge therefore I am terrible” screams fixed mindset. Fixed sense of self.

I believe that we construct our sense of self not from our actions, but from how we see our actions.

The thought “Another binge. Why can’t I ever stop this?” is not the truth. It is a construction created in the shadows of your mind, fuelled by inadequacy.

It is not real.

I have something to replace that unhelpful construction.

I am my next action

You can choose to create your sense of self from your next action.

Think about it. You have multiple actions a day related to food that will help shape your sense of self.

Not just the meals you eat, but...

How fast you eat
How much you eat
What you choose to drink when you go out
How you deal with stress
If and how you allow yourself to relax
The boundaries you create

I am not only saying that focusing on your next action is better than mulling over the past.

I am saying that both of the following sentences are constructs:

“Another binge. Why can’t I stop this?”

“I have just eaten chaotically. What can I do right now to stop this and /or put into place to prevent it in the future?”

Neither one has more truth than the other.

Therefore both are a choice.

Which choice, however counterintuitive it feels, are you going to commit to making?

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