Over the weekend, like my friend Cari whose feature is posted below, I spent a great deal of time in and around the comments section of my website, personal emails, Facebook, Twitter and umpteen forums that offer support for those considering and those who have had weight-loss surgery. Sometimes I was heartened by what I read, other times I hung my head and twisted my hands in despair. Cari’s take on this therefore provided much reflection on the reasoning behind requests for help and general comment. She sums it up by asking the question what do you want or what’s your motive? Read on to delve into this … it makes thoughtful and perhaps provocative reading and let me know what you think …
By Cari De La Cruz
I spend a fair amount of time in and around Facebook Groups designed to offer support for members before, during and after weight loss surgery. These groups tend to be pretty sizable (8,000+ members and growing daily). This is not to say that all members are active every day, but the groups tend to have an appreciable reach, meaning that even if people don’t comment, they read what’s posted.
The people who administrate these SUPPORT groups try very hard to manage the tone of the comments, often posting rules for members that say things like, “This is a support group, so we won’t tolerate any judging or shaming, rude or disparaging comments, or hurtful messages. Play nice.” This is a lovely philosophy, if you’re inviting people to a picnic. But, the reality is, people don’t always say what they mean, or say it effectively, and people don’t always hear what people mean, or they hear what they want to hear…and so it is that a lot of great stuff gets lost in translation, or is blocked or deleted. True, there is a fair amount not-so-great stuff being said, but, a lot of stuff isn’t as “bad” as reflexive, reactionary, sensitive people like to believe. Thus, somewhere along the line the rules of engagement changed and what used to be open dialog has become one big hurt-fest. Poor me. You hurt my wittle fewings and now I’m going to stick my tongue out at you and say you’re mean. Gosh, if it’s all about you and your hurt feelings, it’s going to be a long, unhappy life. (In other words, more of the same.)
However, if you are tired of doing the same old thing and getting the same old results, I have some suggestions for giving and receiving effective support. Ready?
1) WHAT IS YOUR MOTIVE? Honestly consider your intention before you post anything. Are you seeking sympathy? Do you want a free pass? Do you want someone to tell you what you did was okay — even when you know it wasn’t? Do you want people to think you’re right? Do you want people to think you’re better than they are? Do you want to be seen as an expert? There are lots of motivations behind our actions, and, while it can be really hard for the “listener” to interpret that from our written words, we can do a better job of conveying our true purpose if we know what our purpose is.
2) WHAT’S THIS ALL ABOUT? This is similar to “what’s your motive” — but has a slightly different “food source”…We do things to get our needs met (Thanks, Dr. Connie Stapleton) for crystallizing this guiding message for me — it’s absolutely true). Sometimes, those needs are absolutely healthy…sometimes they’re not healthy, and sometimes, they just ARE. For example, sometimes we just want someone to tell us we are okay…or, we are loved, or we look pretty. Whatever. If we are coming from a place where we don’t believe it ourselves, it can be challenging to HEAR it from someone else, and darned easy to MIS-HEAR it. In other words, if our heads are filled with negative self talk (again, thanks, Doc), then everything we “hear” will run through that filter of doubt, shame, ugliness, contempt, self-loathing, blah, blah, blah. The weird thing is, we aren’t listening to ourselves — so when someone else says something and we run it through our filter of negativity, it becomes negative and we blame the other person, rather than owning it ourselves! See how that works? Crazy.
Okay, so without beating this subject to death, a really healthy tool you can use (starting today, even!) on Facebook (and in REAL LIFE) is this: Before you speak or act, think about your motive and ask what it’s all about for you.
EXAMPLE: Let’s say you ate something that wasn’t part of your healthy eating program, and you’re ready to post about it on a support group wall. Before you write anything:
1) What am I looking to gain here? Do I want someone to tell me it’s okay? That I’m not bad and wrong (because I feel bad and wrong?) Am I looking for an understanding of why I made the unhealthy food choice? Am I willing to listen thoughtfully to people’s responses — even if they are negative, or I don’t like what they are saying? Is my goal to own my crap, gain some healthy tools, and make a healthier choice next time? Figure it out and then decide if you even need to say it, or need to say it differently.
2) What is this all about for me? Am I using food as a weapon? Am I feeling bad about myself and looking for a friend? Am I seeking an opportunity to lash out in a safe way because I’m angry but don’t feel comfortable with personal confrontation? Do I feel emboldened behind the keyboard? Am I seeking justification? Perhaps it’s none of these things. Perhaps it’s all of these things. Only you know for sure…and if you don’t, ask a trusted friend.
Did you notice that these things involve AWARENESS, ACCEPTANCE, ACCOUNTABILITY, ATTITUDE, COMMITMENT and EFFORT? Yes, they involve the ingredients in A Post-Op & a Doc‘s Recipe for Recovery — Of course they do — because that’s what healthy living is all about!
This recovery business is foreign to most of us, because we have a lifetime of making unhealthy, unwise choices that kept us sick. It’s common to lash out, overreact, take things personally, and be dramatic because…that’s what we do when we crave attention. If the goal is to become healthier, then perhaps a good place to start would by adopting an attitude of HONEST, COURAGEOUS, WILLINGNESS to change what you’re doing.
Be willing to be wrong.
Be courageous to admit you made a poor choice.
Be honest with your motivation.
Be open to support — yes, even imperfect support…after all, a broken clock is right twice a day.
You don’t have to accept everything everyone says, and you don’t have to comment on everything everyone says. Commit to seeking the truth in what’s being said, and you might find that you are learning to live fully in recovery. Keep what fits and leave the rest.
Here’s the bottom line: If you’re looking for rainbows, butterflies, puppy dogs and hugs, you won’t find that here.
If you’re looking for compassionate, hard-hitting, thought-provoking, understanding, loving support, you’re in the right place and I hope you stay.
I don’t always get it right, but I work hard to learn, grow and live as the authentic person I was born to be. My goal is to share my revelations and thoughts with you so you can choose to live healthy in recovery.
I can’t want it more for you than you want for yourself, but darn it…sometimes, I do!
Have a GRATEful day.