In the September/October issue of Psychotherapy Networker, I read a review of a
book entitled MINDSET: THE NEW PSYCHOLOGY OF SUCCESS by Stanford University
developmental psychologist Carol Dweck which explains how our self-view can be
changed to spur us on to success by shifting our mindsets. It’s really quite simple.
The article (about bullying) explains
Dweck’s concept of fixed versusgrowth mindsets. People with a fixed
mindset see themselves and their attributes or inadequacies as more or less permanent—they’re
good at some things and bad at others, outgoing or shy, lovable or unlovable.
Fixed-mindset thinkers view their successes as a “reflection of their more or
less immutable gifts or talents” and view their failures as a “reflection of
unchangeable deficits and weaknesses.” So many disregulated eaters have this
kind of fixed mindset: they’re either this or that and mostly don’t feel good
enough about themselves. Desperate to succeed, they’re thrilled and
relieved when they do and feel awful when they don’t, as if failure confirms
what they knew all along—there’s something permanently defective about them.
“People with a growth mindset
explain their successes entirely differently, as the result of conscious,
actively chosen behaviors and strategies.” They attribute their success to things
such as having practiced a lot, made healthy choices, or to having thought more
rationally. “When growth-mindset thinkers fail, they don’t blame their
intrinsic inadequacies but look for different strategies to succeed as in ‘I
Fixed-mindset thinkers might say to
themselves, “I don’t exercise because I’m lazy.” A growth-mindset thinker would
make that, “I need to develop better strategies for getting myself to exercise because
the ones I’ve been using aren’t working very well.” A fixed-mindset thinker
would view failure as, “proof that there’s something wrong with me,” while a
growth-mindset thinker would view it as, “proof that I have yet to find the way
to succeed.” There’s a world of difference between these two mindsets. Try
describing each of them in your own words to understand them better.
How can you apply a growth-mindset
to your challenges, eating and otherwise? What would growth-mindset thinkers
say about a binge, eating “normally” for a week, dropping out of the gym, or
running their first marathon? Practice using a growth-mindset and I guarantee it
will help you reach your goals and also lift that awful feeling that there’s
something permanently, seriously defective about you.