Posting a meme is NOT doing the work.
It’s a performance of doing the work, but it is not the work itself.
Sometimes the work requires accountability. I know that.
Sometimes it requires performance in order to feel like you’re making progress. I know that too.
Sometimes it requires feedback and encouragement from others to feel like it’s worthwhile. I have needed that in my own journey.
Sometimes it needs community to maintain, and performing the work visibly helps build and attract that community around you. I’ve done that.
But do not confuse the performance with the work.
What I mean:
There are recovery accounts filled with pictures of food, journaling every morsel, celebrating the act of making food (with the assumption that you are also eating it).
There are body positive accounts that share nothing but feel good quotes about loving yourself (with the assumption that the person posting is taking those words to heart).
There are Beachbody and other weight loss/exercise/diet accounts with before and afters and inspirational words about loving yourself once you reach your goals (with the assumption that the people posting actually love themselves now).*
*Note: if you think that you will love yourself when you’re different in any way, you’ll never love yourself. Once you get there, you’ll realize that you’ve been there all along. So if you don’t love you unconditionally, adding conditions is just a distraction from the work.
I made it a point to start every episode of the Finding Our Hunger podcast with a quote, because quotes are often applicable and inspirational. I made images with those quotes on them to share on Twitter. They’re re-shared over and over, because people feel inspired when they read them, and they feel like they’re doing the work when they share those quotes to their own accounts. I’ve done the same thing: Look at me! Because this image represents the work, and people who do the work share quotes, I am, by the very fact of sharing this quote, doing the work.
What happens, though, is that we get so caught up in the act of presenting ourselves as doing the work that we stop doing the work itself.
Just because I listened to your podcast and felt inspired, I am already there.
Just because I attended this conference and felt inspired, it feels like I already did the work,
Just because I shared this blog post, I showed people what I stand for, even if I’m not actually there yet.
This is not to say that you shouldn’t be sharing posts and memes, but rather to say: stop confusing *just* sharing with finishing the work.
One of my biggest frustrations when I was a coach was getting communication from my listeners and readers and followers who were stuck in the same places for years on end. I’d get an email from someone telling me how much my words hit home or be tagged in an Instagram post about how *this* quote or that made a difference…but then they’d be back, week after week, still struggling. Still unwilling to try a fear food, stop harmful overexercise (even with injuries), or let go of weight checking behaviors.
Posting about how fat is beautiful while fearing fat in their own bodies.
Promising to be a good ally to others while actively hurting themselves.
Because as long as they posted, they were doing the work.
I had to unfriend some bloggers who were posting about how fitspo is bad and recovery is good, but who were using their blogs and inspirational posts as a front to tell others how to be without doing the work themselves. They were actively engaged in eating disorders and exercise addictions, but as long as they posted, they were “doing the work.”
Inspiration is not action.
Just because the quote looks good on your Facebook wall doesn’t mean that you’re done.
Do the work. All the way. Try the fear food. Take off the FitBit. Throw out the scale. Buy the pants in a size larger. Stop fit shaming and food policing others. Get off the unnecessary elimination diet.** Do more than show other people that you mean it. MEAN IT.
**Obviously, this message is not for anyone who actually has a food allergy or medical condition and requires such a diet. I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, so don’t mistake anything I say for professional medical advice, etc.
At the beginning, it might help to show the world what you mean. But mean it. Do it. If the quote inspires you, don’t just be inspired. DO IT.
If you want to recover, I don’t care how pretty the calligraphy on your quote is. I care about whether or not you ate more than your nutrition bar or Paleo-perfect, calorie controlled AIP breakfast.
If you want to be body positive, I don’t care about how inclusive your quote is. I care about whether or not you’re still holding onto the food scale or the tape measure just in case you “need” them for accountability.
If you want to do the work, I don’t care if you’re part of my “tribe.” I care about whether or not you actually started building a life for yourself—discovery—that’s going to give you something to continue living for after recovery.
Don’t let the internet fool you into thinking that you’re already there in real life. A meme is only virtual reality until you start living it.
Be the meme.