Monday, June 17, 2013

The Internet is NOT your therapist

I have concerns about some folks in the WLS community.  My concern is for people who are putting it ALL out there on the INTERNET.  The problem with putting your emotional soul on the internet is: Putting your EMOTIONAL SOUL on the INTERNET.  To me, that seems like the epitome of vulnerability.  There can be serious ramifications to pouring out your soul to strangers.  You compromise your confidentiality.

Aren't there some things in your life you want to remain private?  Think about the what if's in it.  One of the most important lessons I learned in therapy (as a counselor) was it was okay to live in omission to the public.  My clients don't need to know every last detail of the hurts and pains I've been through.  Privacy has its perks, learning when and where its appropriate to tell who and what; it's a learned responsibility to protect yourself and guard against telling others about your past. You never know when those devilish detailed you've divulged on the internet will come back to haunt you.

There are lots of people on the internet waiting to judge you.  I'm not judging you, I'm trying to protect you.  Why?  Because I have done it myself.  I have spoken my mind and been knocked down. I have had people tell me I shouldn't speak my mind.  Hypocrisy of this post: I'm telling you right now not to put it ALL out there, not to not speak your mind, but that you should be discerning about what you throw out there for people to use as ammo.  I know you don't want that.

The deeper issue is that your vulnerability should be addressed with someone who knows how to handle it.  Someone who can put you in a positive place after you tear it down, rebuild it, and move forward.  The internet will continuously tear you down.  Even once you've processed what it, you may or may not have had good guidance on how to restructure your cognition.

Your cognition, self perception, and wholeness is found within. Everyone has a different variable belief in their locus of control.  Many people are motivated by looking in the mirror and not liking what they see-- and will not blame others for where they are currently.  You can do two things with that:  hate yourself and do nothing OR love yourself and do everything to change what you see.  Then, there are people who don't care what they see in the mirror.  It's not that they don't love themselves, it's quite the opposite, they aren't caught up in what they see in the mirror, they are involved in larger pictures of what they can do to help others believe in themselves and their ability to make positive changes.

If you haven't figured it out yet, I'm that latter example.  I am not ashamed or embarrassed of my regain or my struggles. Sure, I don't like the baby belly (no, I'm not pregnant, sometimes I wish I was though due to the regain's likedness to a baby bump.) I live through them and am happy with myself either way. I am active, healthy and honest. I know what I do and do not do and what got me here.  I have always learned lessons the hard way.  And honestly, I've committed to losing the regain the natural way. The hard way. It'll make me appreciate and respect the process again.

However, if you are one of those people who look in the mirror and see flaws and faults and feel like you're not good enough to do whatever it is you want to do with your life, then let's look at that issue. You should never, ever be shamed of where you are right now if you've made a decision to change your health.  That's the first step.  A healthy cognition includes the ability to be resilient when you do make mistakes. Don't be angry with #1, just set your expectations higher for yourself.  Decide to do more to address the problem.

Many people have poor self-esteem because there is a huge discrepancy between reality and their own expectations.  This is why making small, attainable goals makes sense.  We construct elaborate ideas of how we should be, but there's a stop gap between the here and now and the planning for the future.  Think through what that image you have in your head would act, think, feel, and be regarded by others.  That last one is a kicker, because how you look toward others is a concept so many get caught up in that becomes a detriment to #1.

Don't allow the frustration of getting there impact your happiness. When you get there, the happiness you thought would be at the end of the rainbow is not definitive. You must continually work on the new, and if you've properly addressed the old, it may or may not creep back into your life.  Be brave and bold enough to build internal strength to not let the opinions of others hurt you.  

The origin of self esteem issues can come from so many places: family, career, social, and financial issues can impact how you feel about yourself.  I'm here to tell you than none of that matters.  What matters is the voice inside you. What do you say to yourself daily?  What are your mantras you repeat to yourself daily?  We all need attachment to positive thoughts that motivate us to do whatever it is that will get us where we want to be.  These affirmations will keep you together when you're weak and hold you up when you're strong. 

Let your affirmations reflect your love for yourself.  Let them resonate a belongingness to the world and your community. Seek to build relationships with people who you can emulate positivity to-- help them build themselves up as well, don't allow the people you choose to socialize with beat themselves up in your presence.  Be the shining example of good. 

Deal with rejection in healthy ways.  Find a way to process it without internalizing blame. Don't automatically assume it was you, that you weren't good enough.  Consider that they weren't good enough to be in your life. You are choosing to walk away just as they did, maybe for different reasons though.  No use of crying over spilled milk. 

No matter how you cut it, some people struggle more with self esteem than others.  If you've become used to being around people who judge others harshly or lived with the criticism of a verbally abusive person, it takes a lot of practice to become uplifted in your internal dialogue. If you've been told you're something all your life, you believe it.  This works both ways--- if you're told you're beautiful all your life and suddenly someone tells you you're not, self doubt can kick in and blow up a range of emotions you never thought possible, and vice versa.  

This phenomenon in the weight loss surgery community occurs frequently.  When you've been fat all your life and suddenly people start to notice you because you're not.  It's very possible to become angry or confused by people's comments, positive or negative.  But if inside you tell yourself nothing anyone can tell you will change the affirmation you tell yourself: "I am beautiful. I am brave. I love myself." 

The thing about obesity is that many who have suffered from it have lots of practice with having thick skin from ridicule, on the contrary, many have thin skin in talking about the problem of their weight.  We have to accept that what occurs on the outside, the things people say, do, and how they act are only permanent perceptions if we let them continue to occupy space in our minds. 

If you believe and act out of goodness, you will bring goodness into your life.  When you make mistakes, and we all make mistakes, accept them, *resiliency in action here* move forward, and love everything about YOU. Do not allow the distortion to cloud your judgment.  You are beautiful, mistakes, flaws and faults, you deserve to be here. 

Understand the limitations of where you are right now in your journey.  Don't hate things you can't change immediately. As long as you are working on whatever it is you are attempting to change, those negative thought processes of wallowing in self pity are destructive to the end goal. Assess your strengths and weaknesses, but don't dwell on them. Make a plan to address your shortcomings, write in your journal about what it is you want to do and do it.  Set realistic expectations for your self. Choose to make realistic changes about your health every single day, journal it. Write down three goals you can accomplish today regarding your health. Small stuff, things like today I will exercise, follow my nutrition plan, and appreciate myself and my dedication to these goals. At the end of the day, did you? If you feel the need to tell the world about your journey, do so responsibly.

Find appropriate social support to reinforce positive behavior choices.  If you are recovering from obesity, find ways to socialize without food. If you suffered from alcoholism, you wouldn't hang out in bars.  So, if you're recovering from obesity, don't center your social activities around food.  You can just as easily find outings that focus on exercising together. This is just another reason why using walk and talk therapy is a great way to process your experiences with your peers.

Find ways to contribute positively to others. Build other's self esteem, it will impact your own. Be a quality member of your community, volunteer or just offer a listening ear to someone who is understanding of your struggles and successess. Find things to do that will boost your self esteem in positive ways. Find your cool crowd. If you struggle to keep up, find gain perspective on what you value in your friendships.  Do you provide honest, intelligent, loyal, and kind friendship to others: friends and acquaintances alike? Are your friends dedicated to what's important to you in your journey to good health?  Do you have friends you can spend quality time with to go to the gym rather than go out to eat on a Friday or Saturday night?  Build these circles.  They can be your rock. 

This is a journey of growth and development.  Surround yourself with support, love and kindness. Find activities will promote good health to do with your loved ones.  Share what's appropriate with those who are important. Maybe it's just me, but I don't think it's appropriate to seek validation from the internet, it's not just an empty relationship it's a black hole. Find depth in your real life and live with love. 

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