Success QuoteWhilst I was looking for some resources and additional material for our upcoming Introduction to Mindfulness Workshop, I came across this article by Dr Henry Cloud – “10 Things Successful People Never Do Again”. Well, who’s not going to click on that? So I did. On reading the article through, I was really struck by the fact that the majority of these behaviours are so often brought into counselling with clients who struggle with Eating Disorders. I invite you to read Dr Cloud’s original article (link is at the end of this post) for comparison, but I have taken the headings and taken the liberty of re-writing the text in the context of Eating Disorders.

Dr Cloud states that successful people never again…

  • Return to what hasn’t worked.


If there was ever a behaviour that doesn’t work, it is bingeing, or bingeing and purging. And yet, clients will cycle in and out of these behaviours for years and years. Bingeing and purging are behaviours that develop as a way of managing, or avoiding, difficult feelings. However, they more usually create a new set of negative feelings – shame, disgust, guilt and helplessness. And yet, clients repeat the behaviour again and again. Habits are an entire area of research on their own, and the evidence is that they are HARD to break, willpower alone is usually not enough. But getting structured help and support can and does achieve change. So the first shift for someone struggling with this yo-yo cycle, is to admit to themselves that they cannot do it alone, and then reach out for help.

  • Do anything that requires them to be someone they are not.


Clients with Eating Disorders are, almost always, “People Pleasers”. Terrified that family or friends will reject them or no longer want to be friends with them if they knew the truth, or if they became a ‘burden’ by being ‘needy’, they NEVER ask for help or support, and they keep their true selves well hidden from the world, even from their nearest and dearest. This is not a healthy or positive way to maintain relationships, for two main reasons. 1) people can often tell when someone is being ‘fake’, and it creates a feeling of distrust or dishonesty. It can often result in the other person too becoming less open or forthcoming, as they perceive the relationship to be ‘one way’ – “I’m always telling her about my problems and how I feel and she never shares with me…” . 2) when we repeatedly bend over backwards for others, at our own expense, we get resentful, because the recipient of our generosity doesn’t realise how far we compromised ourselves in order to help them. As a person with better boundaries and less fear of saying ‘no’, it wouldn’t occur to them that you didn’t go to the Yoga Class you booked because they asked you to help them move a sofa on Tuesday evening. Meanwhile, you feel cheated of your yoga class, annoyed that you let a ‘self-care’ activity go, and not appreciated enough by your friend for the sacrifice you made (that they know nothing about!). Sound familiar?

  • Try to change another person.


I’m keeping this one short, but if my clients could change one person, it’s usually their mother….. There is a lot that can be done to change the nature of your relationship with your mother (or anyone else), but you’ll usually need professional help and guidance in order to do it.

  • Believe they can please everyone.


See Item no.2

  • Choose short-term comfort over long-term benefit.


Do I even need to elaborate on this? A binge is the ultimate Instant Gratification fix. But how does it move you closer to your longer term goals of “When I lose weight I will… (meet a man, apply for college, move jobs, join the triathlon club…). Again, structured support from a Counsellor, or even a GOOD Life Coach, will give you the tools, skills and support to understand the value of Delayed Gratification and again, break the negative habits that are keeping you stuck.

  • Trust someone or something that appears flawless.


Kim Kardashian’s bum to waist ratio. Jennifer Aniston’s youthful, flawless skin. Cheryl Cole’s hair. The 100% Guaranteed 7 Day Weight Loss Diet That All The Celebs Are Doing. A client told me recently that she spends up to 2 hours a day in work checking Facebook, Instagram and Snapchat to make sure she’s not missing anything, and is constantly triggered into buying into diet plans, online workout programs, following Diet or Nutrition or Fitness Guru’s….. According to Dr Cloud, Successful People Do Due Diligence, they NEVER take anything at face value.

  • Take their eyes off the big picture.


See Item 5.

  • Neglect to do due diligence.


See item 6.

  • Fail to ask why they are where they find themselves.


Myself and my husband went to see a Financial Adviser last year. My husband had turned 50, and we agreed it was time we went to get some structured advice and support around investments, mortgages, life insurance and even doing up a proper will. During that meeting, the accountant we met told us that we should be doing a full financial review every year, and every year you should approach your investments and all your policies with the 100% objective mindset of being prepared to sell everything, and change every provider. How often do any of us sit down and do a full review of where we are at, why we are there, and how we can change to improve our circumstances?

  1. Forget that their inner life determines their outer success.

As with the common characteristic of being “people pleasers”, my clients often have another characteristic in common. They tend to be very ‘heady’ and cognitive. Logic, black and white, and thoughts over feelings. This makes it challenging for me to introduce concepts such as mindfulness, meditation, and inner peace and happiness. However, I am UP for that challenge, because if there is one thing I truly believe above all else, it is that if you are happy within, what happens outside won’t have any significant impact on your resilience and ability to cope. But that’s not an easy shift for my clients. It takes time, patience and lots of understanding on my part – which is why it is so critical that I keep up MY mindfulness practice!

Dr Cloud finishes HIS version of this list with:

Everyone makes mistakes…even the most successful people out there. But, what achievers do better than others is recognize the patterns that are causing those mistakes and never repeat them again. In short, they learn from pain—their own and the pain of others. A good thing to remember is this: pain is unavoidable, but repeating the same pain twice, when we could choose to learn and do something different, is certainly avoidable. I like to say, “we don’t need new ways to fail….the old ones are working just fine!” Our task, in business and in life, is to observe what they are, and never go back to doing them again.

See Dr Cloud’s original article in full here: