It happened, out of the blue, during a routine doctor’s appointment. A friendly nurse initiated what I naively thought was a round of pleasantries before I was jarred back to reality as she asked me to step on the scale in front of her.
This internal dialogue (or rather, meltdown) instantly commenced: Should I take off my shoes? Because we all know shoes add pounds. But if I do, will the nurse think I’m obsessed with my weight? And this isn’t the normal time I weigh myself, so won’t that affect the integrity of the medical data? Also, I haven’t been able to run since my knees started aching, which is why I am at the doctor’s office in the first place. I’m not really where I want to be physically, shape-wise, you know? And for the love of all things good, if I wanted to weigh myself in front of strangers, I would have said so, okay?
I took a deep breath and asked to be weighed backwards because I didn’t want to see my number. I was a complete basket case on the inside—all because of one little culprit: shame.
Scaling Back Our Shaming
From what I can tell, every experience of shame tends to stem from two places: We either believe the lie that we aren’t sufficient—that we aren’t enough. I’m not making good choices. I’m not working hard enough. I’m a failure. I’m not pretty, thin, or fill-in-the-blank enough. Or we fall for the opposite lie—that we are too much. I indulge myself too often. I’m too fat, too intense, too loud, too melodramatic, or too unlovable. On either side of the fulcrum, shame is a no-win measurement system.1