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Thread: Self-confidence in a shaming culture

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    Self-confidence in a shaming culture

    The Fat Acceptance/Pride thread had several responses suggesting that shaming isn’t an issue for people with self-confidence. So I’ve been wondering: how does a person develop self-confidence when they’re put down at every turn?

    People with healthy self-esteem can be, often are, reduced to tatters when living or working in abusive situations. Intelligent, attractive, successful women end up in battered women’s shelters after months or years with somebody who shamed them at every turn and makes them believe that the abuse is all their own fault.

    How does a plump person develop self esteem if their entire culture shames them at every turn? If nothing they do is ever good enough - that math award/Emmy/Job promotion is invisible in comparison to their weight? If they’re sneered at for starting a gym programme? Get the eye-roll and martyred sigh if they skip a gym day when they’re not feeling well? Verbally abused by strangers if they go running or swimming? If their achievements are put down - so what if you lost 20lb, you need to take off 50 more? Subjected to constant negative prophecy?

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    Senior Member razz's Avatar
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    This is hard to cope with whatever the cause. Wrong nationality, wrong height, wrong language, etc. I think lack of confidence starts in childhood for most people. They then don't set a standard of respect that will protect themselves when in abusive situations - marital, work, and so on.
    I believe that it is the child that was never taught how to cope with unkindness of whatever severity and sort, to neutralize the message attacking their emerging beliefs about themselves.
    I found that when I did some mental housecleaning a few years ago, negative memories of the past came to thought. I examined them and slowly taught myself what to do to counteract the messages with positive assertions of strength, worth, and constant counting of the blessings in each day - the sun, water in the tap, beauty of nature, smile of the kind stranger walking by, and honour each precious gift of thoughtfulness of family and friends responding in kind.
    Change the message you are hearing, discard the negative and replace with good. You have the power and wherewithal to do so.
    Gandhi: Happiness is when what you think, what you say and what you do are in harmony .

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    I was one of the ones in the other thread that advocated a "refuse to be shamed" approach, but it has taken me 66 years to get here. I think when kids are shamed, it's a whole different thing. Those wounds can last forever.

    I remember when I was in 5th or 6th grade my friend and I each created a "slam book"--it was a print version of social media. We made booklets with the name of each person in the class on a different page, and then we passed the books around and had people write what they thought about that person on the pages. (Right away.. terrible idea.). So when our books came back to us, I asked my friend if I could see her book, and on my page in her book, some of my classmates had written "Nice kid, but her clothes are wrinkled and dirty."). My mother was dealing with my alcoholic father at that time and wasn't keeping up some of the family needs at that time.

    I still remember how I felt. And the comment wasn't even cruelly stated--it was just an observation. They could have called me a slob.

    It's every parent's job to teach kindness and compassion to their children, and also to teach their children the skills that razz mentioned. I also think the more one teaches their children exclusivity (my neighborhood is nicer, my country is better, my religion is superior) the more likely compassion will be limited to one's own inner circle.
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    Senior Member SteveinMN's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Suzanne View Post
    The Fat Acceptance/Pride thread had several responses suggesting that shaming isn’t an issue for people with self-confidence. So I’ve been wondering: how does a person develop self-confidence when they’re put down at every turn?
    "Put down at every turn"? So there's absolutely nothing that the person does well or at which they are even examplary?

    As a kid, I was always overweight and underactive (genes and severe asthma). My family also moved around a lot. A lot. Add in a high level of introversion and I didn't have tons of friends but I had some. And I was smart and funny (even back then). And my parents always held us kids up and supported us. Maybe I wasn't the middle-school athletic star or the guy the girls in high school swooned over. But I got excellent grades and won academic awards and spoke in complete sentences and had my school buddies.

    I won't claim for a moment that, for example, being called "Porky" as a kid didn't bother me. I will never say "I had a great childhood". But the shaming was never enough to make me depressed or to make me think about abusing drugs or alcohol or killing myself. And then a weird thing happened: most of us grew up. The guy who didn't date once in high school turned out to be an attractive potential mate, not because I had grown so much taller or lost so much weight or even ditched the eyeglasses, but because I was emotionally and financially stable and I was truly interested in women who didn't look like Heidi Klum.

    I would suggest that all of us have some thing(s) we do really well; something for which others look to us, whether it's the ability to physically care for others or to figure out complex equations or to ride a mountain bike or to have an encyclopedic knowledge of movies or books. That's where the confidence comes from. If negative body images are enough to put someone down all the time, they should take a more complete inventory.
    If Americans expended even a fraction of the energy on civic engagement that we spend on consumer ideology, our democracy would be much healthier. Can you imagine people camping out to vote? -- Charles Roberts, Amherst, Mass., Nov. 25, 2006

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    Senior Member catherine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by SteveinMN View Post
    I would suggest that all of us have some thing(s) we do really well; something for which others look to us, whether it's the ability to physically care for others or to figure out complex equations or to ride a mountain bike or to have an encyclopedic knowledge of movies or books. That's where the confidence comes from. If negative body images are enough to put someone down all the time, they should take a more complete inventory.
    +1
    And if that person is a kid, the parent should help him/her identify and nurture those confidence-building things.
    "Do any human beings ever realize life while they live it--every, every minute?" Emily Webb, Our Town
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    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    On the topic of “shaming” I will take a little side trip on this thread.

    On Nextdoor, the social media platform for neighborhoods, we have accusations of “shaming.” I think most of the accusations are stupid and whiney pants. Here are recent incidents:

    1) Neighbor posts video of a couple taking trash out of a dumpster and strewing it all over. They are dumpster diving but are not following diving etiquette which is to keep the area around the dumpster tidy. The posting neighbor says “does anyone recognize this couple? “ Accusations of shaming ensue because this couple is, apparently, known in the area and are street people. They are poor! Stop shaming them!

    Fortunately, they are white people so we are spared a race lecture.

    2) Neighbor posts photo of man walking dog off leash. She asks if anyone recognizes the man because dog is several feet ahead of him. She claims man “looked at her funny” and she was a bit intimidated. Her own dog is dog aggressive and she doesnt want unleashed dogs running up to him.

    Big Giant Drama ensues on Nextdoor because man is well known in the neighborhood. She should know that his dog has never been a problem! He is not threatening at all! He (well, actually his partner) has a license for therapy dog that can run off leash! She should know all of this and it is shaming him! And then, the subjects of the post chime in because they are big Drama Queens themselves.

    Long thread ensues about public shaming and dogs off leash. The thread was deleted after a few days.

    In my view, this woman was making a request for information, reporting a possible neighborhood problem.The Queens could have come on Nextdoor and said “hey, that is us. Our dog is therapy dog foe X and we have registered dog as such. jave a nice day!” But drama and name calling is preferred.

    3) Numerous posts showing video, taken by home security systems, of men stealing packages feom feont porches. While most of these posts do. Ot eran the “shaming” accusation, surprisingly, a few do. It is beyond my co prehension why anyone thnks thieves should be peotected from a simple image on social media board.

    edited to add: this is just a thinly disguised vent about
    nextdoor, in case you couldnt tell.

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    Some of us have trouble with that inventory. Some of us need a lot more positive messaging than others. Some for whatever reason have a negative tape in their heads that grabs on to any reinforcement and rejects contradiction. For those people the put downs are simply confirmation of the truth. Telling them to refute themwith positive self assertions is like telling a deaf person to blank something out by focusing on music. The music may be there, but not to them.

    My book of meditations suggested one day that I list the things “I am really good at.” That page is still blank.

  8. #8
    Senior Member iris lilies's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Chicken lady View Post
    Some of us have trouble with that inventory. Some of us need a lot more positive messaging than others. Some for whatever reason have a negative tape in their heads that grabs on to any reinforcement and rejects contradiction. For those people the put downs are simply confirmation of the truth. Telling them to refute themwith positive self assertions is like telling a deaf person to blank something out by focusing on music. The music may be there, but not to them.

    My book of meditations suggested one day that I list the things “I am really good at.” That page is still blank.
    I wish there was a drug, with no or minimal side effects, that quieted that negative voice.

    I have a little bit of the negative voice but that is for things in my life that are “real.” The negative voice speaks up at least once daily, but not for long, it isnt loud, and it is usually “right.” It acts to keep me on track.

    For iinstance, I am a terrible dog mom says the voice. i say nonsense, I am quite a decent dog mom BUT I have a problem keeping nails down and faces/tails clean. In fact, I have such a phobia of being a bad dog-mom-who-doesnt-care-for-nails that I sent DH to the vet today with our big bulldog to have his nails trimmed. My imagined shame of being in the vets’s office with super long nails was too much. So we solve that with DH who has no shame around this issue.

    Our other bulldog is a retired show dog and she is very patient when we do her nails, and also, they grow and a third of the rate of our big bulldog’s nails. She is easy to trim nails at home.

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    IL, I think you live in my neighborhood. Have had exactly the same posts on Nextdoor here. #3 really hit the fan. One person complained that the image wasn't perfectly clear and assumptions could be made regarding race. A whole thread ensued.

    I wonder if "Big Giant Drama" happens mostly in gentrified neighborhoods? We were much more approachable and calm 15 years ago. Back then and in the 80s people here were still dealing with prostitution, drugs, and gangs around here. Now it seems to be parking, noise, packages, bike theft, and the possible homeless.

    My rant for them is people please stop leaving valuables visible in a car. I am sure that today or tomorrow there will be another post about a theft from a car on Nextdoor.

  10. #10
    Senior Member JaneV2.0's Avatar
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    I wouldn't be caught dead on Next Door, for the reasons you cited and more. The older I get, the more I avoid what my grandmother would call the Vulgar Public.

    I was fortunate to have avoided bullying and shaming growing up, but I feel very sorry for those who didn't. Not everybody can miraculously grow a thicker skin, as the incidence of child suicide illustrates.

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