Tag: self-esteem

Three reasons why I avoid Guilt trips

guilttrip

Come along on a recent guilt trip I took! No, really. It will be delightful. I promise!

“Did you know Lily’s foot was hurt?”

My stomach plummeted lower than the soles of my manure-encrusted boots. This friendship detonated in front of me. I’d done the unthinkable – injured her horse.

“No. When did this happen?”

Explanations ensue. Part of my brain is processing the input, determining guilt or innocence with the finesse of an experienced judge. Sounded like it happened in the field. I worked her in the arena. Whew!

“She was wondering why you trotted a horse with an injured foot.”

The guilt swells again, almost exploding my chest. What sort of imbecile would lunge a horse that was limping? But she wasn’t limping. Apparently, all that head tossing she did – low rather than high – was supposed to clue me in.

Except I’m a greenhorn. Yes, I noticed her stretch seemed shorter than usual. She moved sluggishly to a trot when she normally snapped into that gait.

Let me tell you, when an expensive animal is involved, the guilt trip can be bumpy.

My mother could put me on a guilt trip with less than a blink of the eye. One well-placed glare, saturated with condemnation, and I was gone.

vacationwatsthatIt made me appreciate the fact that this sort of trip was hardly a vacation. There wasn’t anything fun about it. Did it lasso me into conformity? Certainly. Until I decided I was done being controlled by someone else’s whims.

Mothers are expert “travel agents” for guilt trips. Older siblings learn the job well, too. Most of these must become teachers since, next to Mom, teachers have perfected the art of launching an unsuspecting soul into guilt orbit.

I decided to be atypical. As a mother and a teacher, I refuse to employ the guilt-inducing tactics that produce the desired compliance for sons and students. I have my reasons. Three of them.

Guilt trips damage self-esteem

You don’t normally hear me spouting to protect self-esteem at all costs. I think focusing on low self-esteem is a form of pride. Let’s focus on edification instead.

Guilt tears down. It makes a person second-guess their ability to make decisions. With one good swing of its hammer, guilt can make a decent person feel lower than pond scum.

“What was I thinking? How could I have done that? I’m stupider than dirt.” Doesn’t sound like healthy self-talk to me.

Guilt has a silent partner: shame

At the end of many forays motivated by guilt lies the ugly companion of guilt: shame.

While on the little trip, we fill our heads with the negative self-talk demonstrated above. By the time we reach our destination, we’re feeling about one centimeter tall.

You can be sure that the inevitable whammy life will throw at us as we disembark the Guilt Train will shove us under the wheels. Slicing through our soul with a hefty dose of shame.

“I’m going to stay in my room for a week. I’ll never go near another horse. I’m a danger to everyone.” Sounding more desperate all the time, right?

Guilt doesn’t teach responsibility

This is the biggest reason I despise guilt trips. My job as a mother and teacher is to help my sons and students grow into rational adults. They need to learn to be responsible for their own choices.

Too many guilt trips and those people start blaming us for their mistakes. After all, we’re the only one who seems to condemn them and send them down the dark path to shame.

I believe in natural consequences.

In the event of the stupidity revealed at the outset of this post, I suffered natural consequences. Lily needed shoes on her front feet to reinforce the walls of her hooves so her soles wouldn’t get bruised by the hard ground. The ferrier couldn’t come for almost ten days.

The natural consequences of exercising an injured horse: no working or riding her for at least two weeks.

Every choice has a consequence. You choose not to go to the family reunion regardless of mother’s attempt to guilt you. The rich uncle you’ve only met twice writes all attendees into his will. Guess what you aren’t getting?

What do you think about guilt trips? Do you employ them? Have you been on one recently?

Is Confidence Linked to Appearance?

Image courtesy of inbetweenathlete.com

We’re going to a company picnic – my husband’s company picnic – and I pull shorts and tank tops out of the dresser. After all, it’s late July and the temperature is predicted to be near 90.

These shorts pinch my waist. All those sleeveless shirts will draw attention to my less-than-firm triceps. Shorts that hit mid-thigh will ride up when I sit down and the flabby part of my leg will peek out.

It’s official. I have nothing to wear. I look terrible in all of these outfits. Even though I’ve been walking or running every weekday morning throughout the summer and lifting weights two days per week, my over-40 body doesn’t become the summery outfits which would best suit this event.

I pull the capris out of my closet and the process begins again.

If this is you, I’m glad to know I’m not alone. Not really. I think the fact that women spend so much time thinking about their appearance is a travesty. Especially when I read this:

“In general, women are much more concerned about their appearance than men are. The key reason for this is that their appearance is central to how they are evaluated by others” (Jackson, L. A. from Physical Appearance and Gender).

Why are women evaluated by others based on appearance? Whatever the reason, it makes 90% of all women want to change something about their appearance according to these statistics.

According to Dr. Nigel Barber, “Women also spend huge amounts of money on clothes, cosmetics, and other products and services that enhance their physical appearance.” Is this because women feel insecure about their appearance? After all, society will judge them based on the way they look.

Unfortunately, society as a whole may judge us on external standards, such as physical appearance. Women need to build up an arsenal to fight against the negative impact this can have on our confidence and self-esteem.

Some weapons against the warped standards society sets for women are:

  • Positive self-talk: You are your own worst enemy. I avoid mirrors once I’m done getting ready in the morning. This helps me forget about my bad hair day or the extra roll above my waistband. When I look and think, “Ugh. I need to lose weight” I immediately remind myself of the three miles I ran that morning or check out a picture of the two healthy sons my body sustained for 10 months and then brought into the world. (By the way, Victoria’s Secret is that no one looks like a supermodel in their underwear.)
  • Healthy relationships: It’s comforting that my husband doesn’t think I need to wear makeup. He tells me I’m beautiful first thing in the morning (even when I still have morning breath). Don’t put yourself in a relationship with someone who puts down your appearance.
  • Realistic friendships: If you befriend the pretty girl, you’ll be surprised to realize she’s even more insecure about her looks than you are. How can that be? Looks are fleeting. We age and faces wrinkle while skin sags. It’s inevitable. If we put our confidence in our appearance, we know it’s a time bomb. Surround yourself with people who value the inner characteristics that make a person beautiful. When you’re encouraged by the truth from people who see the real you, it inspires confidence (but don’t mistake healthy self-esteem for over-confident pride).
  • A different focus:  In this article, one woman admits: “I realized that there was a marked difference between staying strong and healthy and being critical of every curve of my body, hyperaware of how things drape and present to the outside world.” We need to focus on our purpose in life. Even the supermodel and actress can’t hang all their dreams on their physical appearance. Focus on being the best mother, wife, writer, teacher, lawyer or whatever. As women, we have more than one role and none of them really need us to weigh 100 pounds and have a 36-26-36 figure.

Really. They don’t.

The Real Problem with Abercrombie & Fitch—How Jeffries’ Message Hurts Us ALL

America keeps endorsing the global view of a shallow society filled with image-craving bodies with no mental capacity.

Kristen Lamb speakes out about the latest shallow marketing message from Abercrombie & Fitch here: The Real Problem with Abercrombie & Fitch—How Jeffries’ Message Hurts Us ALL.

A&F should be horrified to learn that millions of teenagers and young adults will buy into their message that beautiful = thin and thin = cool. How do I know this? Because these same young people will binge and purge, starve themselves, exercise endlessly, and swallow laxatives only to look in the mirror and see a FAT person staring back. In reality, it will be a skeleton with skin, but they’re perception has been warped by the false messages around them.

To be fair, it isn’t just A&F. Hollywood, magazines, fashion gurus and photoshopped multi-media publications all tout the body image ideal that makes size 10 synonymous with obese.

I’m disgusted by this continuing trend. Yet, I’m still proud to be an American. Why? I believe in the ideals we were founded on.

No, those beliefs had nothing to do with image. They had everything to do with freedom from oppression. In America, the media has the freedom to promote unhealthy concepts. Likewise, we citizens have the freedom to speak out against their harmful drivel.

Do it. Today, hug your kids and let them know you love them (even if they *gasp* wear something other than a non-size 00). Then take a stand on this issue. Let the marketers know that the demographic that balks at their skin-deep ideals is much larger than the one A&F hopes to find.