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On a scale of one to ten, I normally consider my spousal capabilities to rank about a five. Maybe a 5.1 on a good day. After all, I’m a loner, I’m prone to being cranky, and I’m irrational. For example, I yelled at my husband yesterday … because I locked myself out of the house.
My relationship with my husband doesn’t look anything like the one my parents (or HIS) parents had, and it doesn’t bear a lot of similarities to those of our other married friends. It’s probably understandable that, as a result, I generally assume that I’m doing it “wrong.” When I think about all of the ways I act and feel and engage in my marriage, I mostly figure that I am messing it all up.
What’s interesting, however, is that I get completely different feedback from the world. For instance, last night I put aside my dinner so I could down to the street level to open (and then close) the manual driveway gate so that my husband could drive the car to his tennis match (it’s cumbersome to do this by oneself). My neighbor walked by and said “What a nice thing to do!” I said, jokingly, “Well you know I’m a GREAT spouse” and she replied “I know, didn’t you move to Wisconsin for him?”
Then later on, while chatting with another neighbor in the laundry room she remarked “Do you mean to tell me that he’s out playing tennis while you’re doing the wash? What a good spouse you are!”
And that’s not all. Last night, after I yelled at him (for locking MYSELF out of the house?!) he actually said “Oh, I’m sorry, please give me a hug!”
So the SUBJECTIVE information (”I’m not good at this”) is not in synch with the OBJECTIVE information (compliments and hugs).
Of course, I’m reminded of this at every WeightWatchers meeting that I lead. I ask the members to mention their “bravo-worthy moments of the week.” “What do you need to be celebrated for?” I’ll inquire. And in a room of 30 people, I’ll get maybe four or five who raise a hand.
On a good night, once a few people start to talk about their efforts, more and more hands will go up and more people will share. And more often than not, someone will mention something truly amazing — an empowering behavior change, a big weight loss, a personal breakthrough, a non-scale victory.
This reluctance to celebrate weight management accomplishments is, I believe, a result of overemphasizing the scale data at the expense of all of the other external and internal cues we’re getting. Besides, we don’t normally go around our homes, our offices and our schools telling people “Hey, I need a shout-out for my awesomeness.”
Yet the danger of underestimating our worthiness (whether it’s marital or weight-related) is that we unintentionally negate what’s good about ourselves and our efforts. Positive self-talk isn’t just about being a pollyanna. It’s about learning to acknowledge that you are a person who is capable and accomplished and successful.
And from everything I’ve learned, you don’t need to be a perfect ten to achieve success.