Expectations often lead to disappointments. This is true of having expectations of other people in our lives. It's also true about having expectations of ourselves.
When it comes to dieting people often have unreasonable expectations, and this leads to negative feelings, and the negative feelings lead to overeating.
How do you protect yourself from the disappointment of unreasonable expectations?
Give your expectations a reality check in four simple steps:
1. Identify Your Expectations
Everyone has expectations. It's normal to have them but do you know what they are? What do you expect from yourself and from others? What are your expectations of yourself as a dieter? Write a list of all of them. Be honest with yourself.
2. Determine If Your Expectations are Reasonable
If expectations are unreasonable, you are setting yourself up to feel bad. Take a hard look at your expectations. Are they reasonable?
For example, if you work a 60-hour week are you really going to make it to the gym five times? Probably not.
If your husband has never been affectionate, is it reasonable to expect him to come home and take you passionately into an embrace? Probably not.
If you have never been able to stick to a diet, is it reasonable to think that a new one is going to work? Probably not.
Once you know if your expectations are reasonable, or not, you're in a much more powerful position.
3. Give Up Expectations, Reframe Them or Make Requests
You're in a powerful position because once you know what your expectations are you can do something about them. If you determine that they are unreasonable you might want to give them up. Sometimes, they are not necessarily unreasonable but simply overly ambitious.
With these types you might want to reframe them.
In other words, rather than expect that you're going to lose 50 pounds by your son's wedding next month, you might want to try to lose five.
Rather than expecting that you're going to go to the gym five times, you might make plans to go for one Saturday afternoon walk with a friend.
If the expectations have to do with other people, you might want to make requests. You might not have even been clear about what your expectations were before you did this exercise, so how can you expect other people to know what they are? Letting people in on your expectations gives them a far better chance of fulfilling them.
4. What Support Do I Need?
If you are going to make a request of someone in your life, you might be frightened or not know how to ask. It's okay to enlist the help of someone to get clear before you make a request. An expectation is often a place where you need help. If the expectation is of yourself, you might need a dieting buddy, a helping hand, or just someone to talk things through with.
If losing weight has been a struggle for you, except in the instances where weight gain is the side effect of a medication or condition, there is almost always something emotional going on in the back-ground. Unreasonable expectations are just one way that our minds undermine our dieting efforts.
Dr. Roger Gould is one of the world's leading authorities on emotional eating and adult development. A board-certified psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and former head of Community Psychiatry and Outpatient Psychiatry at UCLA, he is the author of Transformations and Shrink Yourself. Dr. Gould is also founder of the Shrink Yourself online program, an effective, proven program that ends emotional eating.