Nobody likes to be criticized. No matter how strong or confident you are in who you are and what you believe, when someone slams you, it hurts and it sucks. Including me. In a recent blog post, I discussed how some people treat food as an anti-depressant, starting with a story about a recent night out with friends at a restaurant and my opinion about spending $600 on food. Some of you totally got what I was trying to say and some of you were downright mean, bashing my article, my opinion, and me. It got me thinking about how thin the line between honesty and negativity can be.
Some called me judgmental in the comments. That shook me up a bit and had me take a second look at the situation.
First off, I wasn’t being negative or mean, that’s just not me. But, I do have opinions and some of them are strong. I am as entitled to those opinions as everyone else is. I have a right to tell my story as I experience it. My opinion and my perception of that night aren’t wrong, it’s nothing more than my opinion. To say that I was judgmental of my friends is also to suggest that my opinion matters. If it matters to someone that is on them. It’s like saying I’m judging you for eating meat just because I don’t. I don’t think any less of my friends, I don’t look down on them. I’m also not trying to change them – they all seemed to have a blast. But, when I woke up the next morning, I felt great. I didn’t miss a step, which is really important to me. My husband, on the other hand, had a hangover and was out of it the entire day. I bet the rest of my friends were too. They have their priorities, I have mine.
That’s not negativity – that is honesty.
Could I have worded my blog post differently and been softer about it? Maybe.
Let’s call a spade a spade here: every opinion you have is you passing judgment based on YOUR beliefs or experiences. Judgment is not bad or wrong. It’s how we get through every decision every day. How you choose to move forward with those opinions is a different matter.
So that leaves me, and you and all of us with this question – Are you going to live your life true to your beliefs, or do you tip-toe and compromise and live life biting your nails waiting to see if someone calls you a jerk on Facebook?
If you read or hear something and have a negative reaction to it, it has something to do with you, not the person sharing it. The negative response is based on an experience YOU have had. Think about how different stories on Facebook affect you differently. Got kids? Reading about a child being kidnapped probably upsets you, scares you. Someone without kids might feel something when they read it, but probably isn’t going to have that reaction. A story about a dog being rescued from a burning house is going to make dog owners cry, someone who doesn’t own pets, probably not.
Case in point – I’m a vegan. I believe one-hundred-freaking-percent that a plant based diet is the best choice for me to be in optimal health. I think it’s the best choice for most people. But it is a choice and if you choose differently, I absolutely do not judge you for it nor think you’re a terrible person. My husband eats meat and so does my five year old daughter.
I’m not judging you for your health choices. I want you to make the right choice FOR YOU, not only in THIS moment but the choice that’s going to impact the REST of your life. All I ask when you’re making those choices is that you be honest with yourself.
So, now, ask yourself this, and ask it honestly – When you read a bit of health advice and you get activated by it, are you mad because you feel like you’ve been called out for bad choices? Or are you mad at yourself for struggling with them, because you haven’t been able to fix them yet? I’m not judging you for not fixing them, by the way. I KNOW changing habits is hard! You have to start small and it is constant work, and sometimes it really sucks. But when you start out with self-honesty, you are at least on a good foot to making the change stick.
Look, I’m a health coach. I have twenty years of experience in alternative wellness and I’ve watched people alter the future of their health by looking at their choices and making new ones. That is the whole point of what I do for my clients and for you when I write my blogs. But I’m also not a doctor or a therapist. People who face legitimate addiction – whether it’s to food, alcohol, even exercise – don’t need my blog, they need professional medical and psychological support.
I am honest about how I feel. My friends and family (and clients) know that about me. I’m not going to pull any punches. Being the kind of no-holds-barred honest that I am gets misunderstood and can be overwhelming for people who don’t know me. Everything I do – all my hard work – is for you. All I really want is for you to live a happy, healthy life. If it takes brutal honesty to get you to hear it sometimes, it is a risk I am willing to take. I’m going to keep telling my stories, that I know have helped and inspired people, and move on.
Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates instructor, and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening—empowering her clients to heal not only their physical bodies but their hearts and minds as well. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events, and custom programs, visit hayleyhobson.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.