Saturday, June 21, 2008

Life After Weight Loss Surgery - Don't Let Shame and Self-Blame Weigh You Down

A huge mistake that people make as they work to lose weight and/or maintain weight loss after weight loss surgery involves getting stuck in self-blame. Self-blame and self-criticism can seriously undermine weight loss efforts. Here are some of the reasons why they can create a trap that you want to avoid:

1. Self-blame breeds shame.

Shame is the most isolating emotion that there is. When we feel shame, we feel bad and we want to be invisible. We don't want anyone to see either our shame or ourselves and we start to feel incapable of connecting with others. We want to disappear. Solid support is one of the most important tools for success whenever we are making any major change and shame causes people to isolate, avoid others, and miss out on the support they can provide.

2. Self-blame and shame cause us to lose perspective.

When we blame ourselves and get lost in shame we also tend to lose perspective. If we believe that the problem is us then it becomes easier to believe that we are alone in our struggles and that no one else will understand. One of the biggest mistakes a weight loss surgery patient can make is assuming they are alone in struggling or having questions or difficulties after bariatric surgery. When we struggle alone and blame ourselves, a problem that was originally small can quickly become much larger.

I have worked with too many bariatric surgery patients who have avoided support groups because they are afraid of being judged or are embarrassed to admit they are struggling. Because they are stuck in shame and self-blame, these individuals miss out on learning that they are not alone. They miss out on learning about the strategies and resources that others have discovered or developed. Connecting with others is an incredibly powerful tool and shame can keep us from using it.

3. The heaviness of shame and the weight of self blame interfere with successful weight loss.

In fact, getting stuck in the self blame trap might be the biggest mistake that bariatric surgery patients can make. When people hit a rough patch with their eating or their weight loss surgery lifestyle and they are trapped in shame and self-blame, they get stuck. Instead of taking a step back, evaluating why the plan failed, and looking compassionately at what they need to tweak in order to be successful, people stuck in self-blame beat themselves up emotionally for their past failures and commit to being tougher or harder on themselves, or more rigid and strict the next go-round. This is a big mistake. When we stay stuck in self-blame and shame we limit our ability to be curious and to think creatively. We become less able to look at a situation objectively, identify what didn't work or how we got into the trap that we did. When we are stuck in shame and self-blame, our minds are less likely to work to create some new options, modify our plan for next time, or generate ideas about how we can be more successful. Self blame tends to leave us with only one option--"just try harder." Unfortunately that's not often a very helpful approach.

Learning how self-judgment and shame can get in your way isn't always enough to change it. Have you ever tried to stop being hard on yourself? It's really not so easy. It takes practice, persistence, and the right tools. So many weight loss programs don't address shame and self-blame at all, and even fewer provide the necessary tools and skills to help you move past it. Moving past self-blame and shame is crucial for creating enduring success after weight loss surgery and it is challenging work. But once you start to develop the right tools and you are able to step outside of that self-blame, it's absolutely amazing how much easier some of the other steps towards success can be.

Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. is a Psychologist and Life and Wellness Coach who helps her clients create and live the life they crave. She is also the creator of the Emotional Eating Toolbox (TM), Tools for Taking Control and Moving Beyond Dieting. Sign up for a free 5 part Self-care Package and learn more at:

Copyright 2008 - Melissa McCreery, Ph.D. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Reprint Rights: You may reprint this article as long as you leave all of the links active, do not edit the article in any way, give author name credit and follow all of the EzineArticles terms of service for Publishers.


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