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Mindsets and your view of the world

S: 20st0lb C: 16st7lb G: 12st12lb BMI: 36.2 Loss: 3st7lb(17.5%)
(from a work book I am working through)

Think of our minds as a combined DVD player and monitor. What we see on the screen depends on what DVD is being played. Think of a mindset as the DVD being played in the DVD player. Everyone has mindsets, everyone sees things in particular ways, and everyone has
different mindsets within themselves.

Mindsets influence how you see things. They are like a pair of spectacles you put on. If the lenses of the spectacles are pink, everything you see will be pink. However, does it mean that everything really is pink?
Of course not! This is why it is important to understand: mindsets influence how we interpret and experience life. They create their own ‘reality’ and filter experience. As a result, they affect how you behave – they act like guidelines for living. Some mindsets are helpful or neutral, and some are unhelpful. Furthermore, they
are self-perpetuating – that is, they keep themselves going by creating a vicious cycle. For example, depressed people tend to see things in an extremely negative way (a depressive mindset). They are playing
a ‘Depressive DVD’, which contains negative messages such as: “I am worthless and people don’t like me”. This keeps the depression going by affecting how they view the world, relationships and themselves. It is easy to imagine that it would affect how they react to others – by withdrawing, which reinforces their
sense of social isolation. It is, therefore, an unhelpful mindset creating its own vicious cycle.

Someone with an eating disorder will see the world, relationships and themselves in terms of judging their eating, shape and weight (an eating disorder mindset). Their ‘Eating Disorder DVD’ might contain a
message such as “I need to control my eating and lose weight in order to be successful”. As you can imagine, this unhelpful mindset maintains the disorder, perhaps encouraging driven exercise and strict dieting in order to feel a small sense of achievement, which contributes to the vicious cycle.

An example of a neutral mindset might include attitudes and thoughts to do with being kind to others whenever possible. If someone has a mindset about being kind (including, for example: “It’s good to be
helpful to others”), they will act on opportunities to do something for people in need. This will make them feel good and reinforce their original attitude – a positive cycle!

As you can see from these examples, mindsets can strongly influence your view of the world, relationships
and yourself, and also affect your behaviour.

How Mindsets Develop

Mindsets are learned as a result of the experiences we have had in our lives. The thoughts, beliefs, assumptions, and attitudes about ourselves and the world around us are conclusions we arrive at,
based on what has happened in our lives. We learn things in different ways. We may learn from direct experiences, the media, observing what other people do, and listening to what people say.

This means that our experiences in our childhood, family of origin, the society we lived in, schools we went to, and with our friends – all these have influenced our thoughts and beliefs about all sorts
of things, including ourselves, eating, body shape and weight, and control.

When we arrive at particular conclusions about ourselves or the world and others, we may also begin to behave in certain ways as a result of these conclusions. When this happens, our behaviour then serves to
reinforce or strengthen that conclusion.

Here’s an example:
Penny is a 13 year-old girl who was invited to one of her classmate’s birthday party. She arrived at the
party wearing jeans and a sweater to find that all the other girls were wearing dresses. Penny felt very awkward and came close to tears when many of the girls started staring at her and whispering. She
stayed for about an hour and then left. The next time she went to a party, she asked her friends what they were wearing and made sure that she wore something similar to them. She had a good time.
In the example, Penny might have come to a few conclusions as a result of her first party experience. She might have concluded that, as a girl, one must wear a dress to a party. What she probably learned was that someone who is too different from others might be negatively judged. This conclusion was reinforced at the next party, when she wore what her friends were wearing, in order to fit in. Both this conclusion and subsequent behaviour, when they are repeated, become a mindset.
This is a simple example, but it shows how mindsets develop and are maintained.

Here’s an eating example:
Suzy was chubby growing up and had her first period when she was 9. She felt uncomfortable with her
body after that, because none of the other girls had their periods or wore a bra. When she was 10, she moved to a new school and got teased and called “fatty”. She tried to diet but never managed for more than two days. At 14 she got glandular fever and lost a lot of weight. Suddenly everyone said
how good she looked and she felt better about herself.

Suzy might have come to a few conclusions as a result of being chubby. She might have concluded that there was something wrong with her because she was overweight. What she probably learned was that someone who is overweight and more physically developed might be teased. This conclusion was reinforced when she lost weight and was praised. Do you see how she might develop an eating disorder mindset?"

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Stubborn tortoise
S: 14st11lb C: 14st9lb G: 11st0lb BMI: 31.2 Loss: 0st2lb(0.97%)
Just to say I find these posts interesting and thought-provoking... thanks.


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