Is Shame Part of Managing Your Life?

by Taru Fisher on February 3, 2016

So how many years has it been that “lose weight”, “make more money”, “have a better relationship with ______”, “start exercising” have been on your goal list?

5, 10, 30? I can feel you cringing. Why? Because I have items on my list of goals just like that and I’m cringing. Things I keep saying I’m going to do but come December 31st, they are still undone.

There are also other things on my list that do get done. Some easily, some with effort and concentration and they still get done. I reap the benefits of the change.

Things related to my health, including exercise and eating are some of the goals that get done. Not always easily, mind you.

I expect if you examine your list you will see the same thing: some things get done and others, no matter how hard you try, never get done.

The difference between the goals you make happen and those you don’t has to do with the meaning you make of the changes those goals will create in your life. Huh? Read on for an explanation.

If I make a change in my life because

  • I think the world (or someone) will love me more,
  • I think I’ll be more accepted and appreciated, or
  • I think I’ll be recognized for who I really am,

then very often the change will be short-lived. In other words if the motivation is extrinsic – outside of myself – the difficulty in maintaining the motivation is large.

If the motivation is intrinsic – coming from inside of me and who I really think I am – then the motivation burns forever. Every time I am knocked off my horse, the motivation is there to get back on and trying again. It is even easier to learn from the feedback the world gives me (“feedback”: formerly known as failure) when my motivation is intrinsic.

Extrinsic motivations can often be about “I’m not good enough” – I need to do something more or better, “I’m not worthy enough” – I don’t deserve to have what I want. They carry with them judgement and shame. Trying to change from a place of shame rarely works.

One unfortunate truth about our Western society is that we have wholeheartedly bought into shaming as a method for improving people’s behavior and getting them to use more of their potential. Our prisons and schools use shame as the foundation for “making better people”. We’ve internalized this method of people improvement every where in our society and probably no place more eagerly or vociferously than in the land of health. Especially for women. If you don’t look young, beautiful, and in shape…well…you may as well drop off the face of the earth.

As a society we are intent on shaming people into more exercise and more healthful eating. So they can be young, beautiful and in shape!

If you want to change how you fuel your body and how you move and use your body, then do it from a place of love. Examine why you want to make the particular change you have in mind. Did you decide to commit to this change because someone else told you to? (Your spouse, doctor, best friend, an article?) Or are you committing because this is something YOU want for YOURSELF?

When you know that the goal is something you truly want, then set up the process for achieving it in a way that will give you the biggest chance at success. It could be taking a smaller bite of the goal (chunking the process into smaller parts), it could be enlisting the help of others, it could be formally putting the actions into your schedule. Do whatever it takes to give yourself the best chance at success.

If you notice that you aren’t succeeding then re-evaluate the goal and the process you’ve set up to achieve it. Tweak it, come at it from a different angle, toss it out and start again. Use the feedback from your first attempt to craft something better. And craft it from a place of love; resist the temptation to shame and punish yourself into the change you want to experience.

Let’s start our journey to more of what we want from a place of “we are already enough as human beings”. Along the way we may want to change some behaviors or many behaviors. However having behaviors we want to change in no way reflects on our worthiness to have what we want.

Previous post:

Next post:

© 2013-2024 Alive Fitness Studio LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Privacy Statement and Terms of Service