Nutrition and Positive Thinking
Have you ever heard talk from friends, family, and loved ones that comes across self-deprecating? “I’m dumb. ” “I’m ugly.” “I’m so lazy”. When it gets right down to it, we can be brutal to ourselves. Having a negative inner voice can become natural. Especially if we see it often in others. We try to use it to push us and other people to do better. But just how effective is using shame when it comes to our health? Does it push us to do better with nutrition or does it do damage? Does it even deter unwanted behavior, or motivate people to change?
The Mechanics of Shame and Self Deprecation
First of all, how do we shame ourselves and others? And does it serve a purpose at all? Shaming or the act of engaging in social negativity ,is objectively a tool that people use as a barometer of social approval. Whether it comes from ourselves or other people, shame serves to point out our flaws in an attempt to recognize and correct a problem in a social context.
According to Melissa Kirk, a blogger for Psychology Today, “We are probably wired to feel shame because it keeps us in line with the rules of our society. When we break or flaunt the rules, we may be ostracized. Which could mean death or at the very least, disconnection, which can feel worse than death. So, the reason that shame works so well is that we’re wired to connect to and to seek acceptance from others, and shame effectively withdraws that acceptance and connection. ”
People are motivated by shame, because if we do not correct our behavior, we will feel a detachment from our social circle, which we need in order to survive.
However, how likely are people going to correct their behavior in response to shame? Does it actually work in the way that is intended? Is there a chance that it could lead to someone over correcting, or avoiding certain behaviors in an extreme way?
What Excess Negativity Does to your Health
While shaming does work to some degree as a behavior deterrent, if it is over done, the consequences aren’t what people expect. Usually, when people engage in negative self talk, it tends to embed itself. Whether its origins come from an outside source, or the behavior has been modeled by others, it can spiral into a dangerous habit.
Enough negativity can actually decrease our motivation to do better. It also increasese our chances of depression. Also, it can cause enough emotional distress to the point of people trying to supress the emotion with binging behavior.
“Those who find themselves frequently engaging in negative self-talk tend to be more stressed. This is in large part due to the fact that their reality becomes an experience where they feel like they don’t have the ability to reach the goals they’ve set for themselves. This is both due to a lowered ability to see opportunities around them as well as a decreased tendency to capitalize on these opportunities. This means that the heightened perception of stress is due both to mere perception and the changes in behavior that come from them. ”
It not only makes us feel bad, it decreases our chances of actually succeeding in weight loss goals. It does not encourage good habits. Instead, it backfires into doing the exact opposite of the intent.
So, when someone is shamed for being”fat” or “lazy”, the people who are participating in shaming are actually more likely to doom their target into a self fufilling prophecy. And act of tough love becomes outright cruelty.
Foster Good Nutrition and Positive Thinking
So, if you want to lose weight or focus on good nutrition, what can we do? If we can’t discourage bad behavior, what would be a way to get beneficial results? Easy, you do the opposite. According to a nutrition expert who was interviewed for the Seattle Times had this to say, ”
People with high self-compassion are more likely to practice behaviors that support health. Because, self-care is their motivator.
If you suspect your internal voice is far from kind, what can you do?
First, listen. To quiet that critical voice, you need to be fully aware of what it’s saying, and when and how often it’s saying it. This can feel icky, and it’s easy to become self-critical about just how self-critical we are, so try to stay judgment-free — you’re gathering important information about yourself.
Then, when you notice that voice popping up, gently shift to a more compassionate voice, like one you would use with a dear friend, or a family member who’s struggling.
Finally, be patient — this change may take time, but it’s worth it.”