Wednesday, August 6, 2008

The Problem With Shoulds 7: Using fear to control

"Shoulds" demand that we essentially play cop while monitoring our actions and the actions of others. They require us to spend great amounts of time and energy reviewing behaviors and determining how they should be done differently.

Historically, individuals in society were motivated to act in ways which would avoid incurring the wrath of a king or a god. Today, people are more motivated to act in ways which would avoid incurring the disapproval of their friends and family.

Shoulds lead to extreme fears of embarrassment and social exclusion. We know that we will not get struck down by a god or legally exiled by a sovereign if we get fat. But the internal shame and social stigma can be far more powerful. It is this self-other regulation that causes us to walk around feeling anxious, alienated, afraid, and exhausted. Our bodies will not be put in prison for gaining weight, but our minds will.

This is the 7th and last of my "Problem With Shoulds" blogs (until I can think of some more!). From here on I intend to use every day examples to demonstrate the principles outlined in my book. Keep coming back and reading!

No comments: