SolveYourProblem Article Series: Weight Loss & Dieting
How Do I Really Lose Weight?

     

Lose Weight - Psychological Factors Why You Fail

Psychologists often refer to something called our “attributional style”, which is our basic, and quite often unconscious assumptions we use to explain to ourselves why we do the things we do and why we get the results we get.

Behavioral Psychology Expert Dean Anderson lists 3 common elements of an attributional style that leads to failure when it comes to goals such as losing weight. Conveniently, he labels them all with a word starting with the letter “P”, making these perilous influences all the easier to recall.

When a person fail repeatedly in all their efforts to lose weight and keep it off, it is often due to one or more of these 3 assumptions they make about the problems that they come up against:

Anderson’s 3 P’s of Failure are:

Personal or Personalized

A person with this attributional style assumes that they possess a certain character flaw (lack of ability or will power, etc.) that is the cause of their problems. A person with this problematic assumption also tends to attribute anything positive that they accomplish or achieve to be caused by something outside themselves (luck, help from others, etc.). What this means is that these people internalize or personalize” their failures and externalize their successes.

The more successful alternative to this is to assume that your successes are sourced from within you, and that your failures come from sources outside you.

Permanent

The person with this attributional style then assumes that this flaw of theirs, whatever it is, is permanent, that it has always been there, that it will always be there, and that there’s nothing they can do to change it (ie. “oh, it’s genetic; everyone in my family is this way and there’s nothing I can do about it”).

The more successful alternative to this is to assume that whatever difficulties or shortcomings you may presently be facing are temporary and easily remedied or worked around through growing, learning, planning, practicing, and seeking help.

Pervasive

The third and final element of this attributional style designed for failure is that the person assumes this problem or flaw affects not just the particular area of concern they’re facing right now (ie. trouble with their weight), but every aspect of their lives. With an attitude like this, every problem in life is the same problem, sourced by the same permanent and internal flaw. And every problem in life justifies, validates, and reinforces this belief, this assumption in the existence of this permanent, internal flaw.

To identify whether you are suffering from this recipe for failure, examine how you talk to yourself. Listen to the words you say to yourself inside your head (or aloud when no one else is around to hear). Do you say things to yourself that you would never dare say to a friend? Do you gloss over any examination of something that’s gone wrong and skip straight to a conclusion, the same conclusion you always come to, once more justified, validated, and reinforced? Is it easy for a simple disappointment to set you on a slippery downward slide to hopelessness and despair in no time?

If you recognize yourself in this description, then the solution is to break this vicious cycle whenever you see it coming up, and as soon as you see it coming it. If something you perceive as a problem occurs in your life, stay keen to these three erroneous assumptions and determinedly change in that moment what you’re saying to yourself.

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