Wednesday, July 9, 2014

My aversion to blaming and shaming as a motivational technique

As someone who has suffered from soul-crushing feelings of depression and self-hatred, I can't tell you how fired up I get about people who blame, shame and ridicule others in an attempt to light an unstoppable fire under their arse.

These people have an extreme superiority complex and think they're the bee's knees because of what they've accomplished. They look down on people who have accomplished less. They practically laugh in the face of common, severe, and very human problems such as depression and lack of self-confidence. These are real problems that cannot be fixed with a super lengthy and excessive speech or article about how we're wasting our lives away and need to get off our asses and make something of ourselves.

I've never been a fan of blaming and shaming as a motivational technique. That might work for some people, but it doesn't work for me. You never know what someone else is going through. There are people in the world who have a hard enough time getting out of bed in the morning, much less accomplishing something big and note-worthy. There are people in the world who take the slightest form of criticism as a sweeping and harsh judgment of their character (because it's how they're wired). There are people in the world who are still struggling to find themselves and pave their paths, and when these pretentious assholes (excuse me) dump gallons of shame on them for not having their shit together yet, it's quite detrimental to the already excruciating process of growing up and figuring out who they are/what they want as a human being.

And who are these people to blame and shame anyway? What do they know? What gives them the right to sit behind their computer screens and preach to the choir about people who aren't working hard enough or being good enough? Don't they have anything better to do than make people feel worse about themselves when they already feel bad enough?

Clearly, this is a touchy and personal subject for me. I apologize if it sounds like I'm yelling at you or something. But if you're a blamer/shamer, I encourage you to stop and think about the message you're sending out. Does shaming other people make you feel big and important, or are you genuinely trying to help? (You're not, my friend.) Did blaming and shaming work wonders on you, and are you trying to work wonders on others? (You're not, my friend.) If you had no money, no status, no success, no external validation, and no material belongings to your name, who would you be? Would you still feel impassioned by telling your massive success story and berating people who don't have a similar one? I encourage you to consider all these questions if reading this post made you angry because you do everything I described in it.

On the other hand, if you're nodding your head or saying, "AMEN SISTA," then you probably understand where I'm coming from and also feel fed up by the horribly demeaning "motivational techniques" we see popping up everywhere. So I encourage YOU to just ignore them. If you can tell that a video or article is going to ruin your day within the first ten seconds of watching/reading it, don't finish watching/reading it. Gravitate towards the resources that inspire and uplift you. If you want to rant about everything that doesn't, be my guest. (I obviously did!!!) But when you're done ranting, work on surrounding yourself with the things that DO light a fire under your arse and inspire you to be a better person.

We are all doing the best we can. I truly believe (and feel inspired by) that notion. Every person and every situation in life is different. Some people are going to be more successful than others, and that's okay. Good for you, and keep up the awesome work. Just don't go around rubbing it in everybody's face like you're the Queen of Sheba.  

We are all in the same boat. We are all human. We are all fighting the same battles. So let's stand beside each other instead of above each other, yes?

<3 Madison            


  1. Hearing and seeing people ridicule and shame those with depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem gets me fired up. It’s truly sad how few people understand how difficult those feelings can be.
    Almost two years ago I went through the darkest part of my life, thus far, and it was something I hope the vast majority of people never endure. My girlfriend decided to follow her dreams to a big city across the nation, and I couldn’t follow. My roommate at the time moved out, and I then lost my marketing job – all in the span of about 2 months. I found myself completely alone in a town I despised, jobless, and was hopeless. I turned to alcohol and drank everything away, every single day. I gained 25 pounds and my life was spiraling out of control, and quickly. I looked myself in the mirror and decided I was running out of options and if I didn’t make changes soon, things were only going to get worse. I sold my house and moved in with some friends from college about an hour away. Having them around, as well as family, and starting fresh essentially saved my life. I caught a huge break for my career, got back in shape, and my life has turned around.
    To sum this all up, I never would have made it through that part of my life without my friends, and especially if my friends or onlookers were condescending, shaming or ridiculing me. It was hard enough as it was; crippling and hopeless for a long period of time. Thanks for writing, and if it helps just one person change how they treat others, it was well worth it.

    1. Thank you Daniel! Your story is a perfect example of why blaming and shaming is a horrible idea. You picked yourself up because you surrounded yourself with empathetic and supportive people who didn't judge you or try to "fix" your situation with a useless speech about pulling yourself up by the bootstraps or something. It just infuriates me how ignorant and heartless some people can be towards the heaviness of mental and emotional issues. You can't just "snap out of it."

      I'm so glad to hear that you are in a better place now. Your story truly inspired me. :-)