Thursday, November 29, 2012
Yesterday it occurred to me that I've been doing a weird thing. I have been responding to SparkFriends' blogs and posts, especially those in which I was trying to say "congratulations," or
or "you did it," or
. I was either celebrating one of their victories with them, or encouraging them to keep on the right track, or sharing their hurt or frustration. The important point is that it was THEIR victory or journey.
Right, CSAgirl: it was their individual victory or journey.
And yet, I have signed off nearly every post and comment with this emoticon:
, which probably would be more appropriate, but
Yesterday, for the first time all month, my emoticon choice struck me as odd. I thought I'd better reflect on my actions, and see what it was telling me. Why was I turning all of those "you's" into "we's"? Why was I turning something that one special person had done into something that we all shared? Is it right that one person's accomplishment became the group's accomplishment? That one person's struggle belongs to the group? My question for myself became this: in saying "WE" instead of "YOU," was I minimizing the heart-felt challenges or the wonderful accomplishments of each special person? Was I undermining the authenticity of their experience? Making each one less special?
Well, I dearly hope not. That certainly wasn't my intention. Rather, I believe I was drawn to the "WE" for deeply held reasons. In my heart, I know that:
* WE are all in this together.
* WE are all enriched by the successes of one another
* WE all share the challenges, even if they show up differently for each one of us
* WE keep each other on track
* WE create a positive energy together that sustains us when we aren't connected by the computer
* WE have a responsibility to one another
* WE all truly CAN do this -- together
Here on SP, individual successes and challenges spark reactions and responses in others; that is one of the ways in which we are powerfully connected. It is one of the key reasons the group is so important to the program. The group isn't possible without all those individuals, but at the same time, each individual is stronger for being a part of the group.
You might ask, why is this sense of belonging to a group so important to me? So important that I reinforce it every time I congratulate, encourage, or reassure someone?
Well, one reason I'm overweight because I haven't felt I'm a part of something for a very long time. One reason I haven't been able to lose the weight is because I have been so isolated and have been trying to do it on my own. As a single parent, I have no choice but to do everything on my own. As a relatively new transplant to a pretty unfriendly part of the country, I have had no choice but to do nearly everything on my own. Truth to tell, I've been here over a decade without making more than a few friends -- which tells you just how unfriendly this part of the country is. I give 110% to my job, but none of my colleagues have my back. They have taken a lot from me, but have not given any moral support in return. I'm out here, by myself, doing the best I can. And I've been struggling.
Here at SP, I know I'm not alone in feeling this way.
Here at SP, I've been able to be a part of a group in which we build each other up, listen to the frustrations, hurts, and challenges, and celebrate one another's successes. When one of us wins, we all win. That is all too rare in this world.
In fact, my weight loss efforts didn't succeed until I became a part of this group. In three weeks, I've lost the 7 lbs I'd tried unsuccessfully to shed for the past year. There's plenty more to go, but it's a heck of a start. I credit the group for my success.
So, on reflection, that's why I unconsciously chose the "WE can do it" icon rather than the "YOU can do it" one. It is one thing to tell other people what THEY need to do ... but really, we all need to do it. Together. I'm committed to that message, and feel it deep in my soul.
We can. We must.
Member Comments About This Blog Post
Very well written. Thanks for posting. It's always hard to meet new people especially when you move to a new environment without your usual support system. It requires being "out there" more and risking being rejected. What you describe is human. We all feel that way. It's all enveloped in taking a risk. But risk we must because the rewards of success are worth jumping into the deep end of the pool.
For myself, I never needed "a lot" of friends. My interactions with friends requires a lot from me, to be the friend I believe I must be, and having dozens of friends would absolutely exhaust me. I prefer to have a few really good ones, that I have maintained for decades, where I can dedicate a lot to a much smaller group rather than to the "masses". Of course, if someone new comes along...sometimes we do have to make room, if it's a worthwhile relationship to develop. Make sense?
You've realized one of the biggest and most important lessons on SP (I believe), that the success of this plan is undoubtedly the community where we find ourselves. The plan itself is not something new, there is, after all, very little in the most successful diet plans that can be considered as "new". It's not rocket science that you need to have a lower intake of calories and a greater level of exercise. Calories in, calories out. Period. But the support here, of total strangers, for the most part, is unbelievable. The sincerity that strangers can impart on people they do not know, nor are likely to meet, is the driving force for the success of this site, in my opinion. It works! And it carries into maintenance, too, which is where you will really see the separation of the "men from the boys". Losing weight is the easier of the two tasks, it's the maintaining that is the harder task, to keep it off for a lifetime and not succumb to the temptation of all our old habits.
As to the sign off, this is how I do it (and you are indeed correct, it is a collective journey):
All the best, and remember:
1571 days ago
Comment edited on: 12/2/2012 1:08:05 PM
Yes, I also feel isolated. Spark has given me friends from all over the globe. I can talk with them and feel a bond. I can be very honest and open in a way that I cannot with people in my small town (sorry, they have big mouths). It is an opportunity for support, encouragement. I suppose that one could fear that having "virtual" friends would make one more isolated in their "real" life...that a person could close up and withdraw even more. But I have actually found just the opposite. I have been more open and honest, even trusting in my everyday life. I think I have benefited from reading other people's struggles........people of all weights, background, ages, and cultures. It has made me more understanding and I'd like to think, compassionate.
1573 days ago
This is a very wonderful blog come from your heart. Thank you for sharing.
I do agree with you on 100%. I feel very strong connection with all of my Spark Friend. Probably non of us had ever met in real life. Although , we can understands what they are going thru in real life. Sometime in life, maybe most of time.. The person or people in your closer relationship may not be a supporter for you. nor understands what you are going thru.. even that person is in your daily life. For instance, my husband. He has no clue what I am going thru right now, and far as concern about my challenge of being healthy living. He has no interest of it. ( too sad.. he really need to be healthy more then me...)
Anyways, I am so glad that we are friends here and I appreciate so much for all of my Spark friends and community for a great support.
Have a wonderful evening!!
1574 days ago
Hi. I could not agree more with what you said ~ and what others have said in their responses. WE is so much more powerful than I or YOU. I belong to a 12-step group and one of the things that I love the most is the saying that we have ~ "WE can do what I could not." I have found it to be so true. When you have camaraderie, caring, sharing, helping, understanding in a group, so much more is possible. I tend to use the emot when someone is facing something that is personal, that I can NOT relate to, or help with, all I can do is show support. is blessed because I hope it shows that I am WITH someone all the way ~ and that I care about them and share their battle. That is my take on it, for what it is worth.
I want to thank you for your comment and support on my blog. You always make me feel good about myself and what I'm doing. YOU are awesome, my friend. Btw, I honestly, DID notice that you put instead of and it struck me as 'odd' because you don't usually do that. So, don't do it again or I'll come with my ruler and rap your knuckles.
1574 days ago
I completely agree with you also! For all the same reasons. We're in this together, and we can all learn from one another; both from our successes and our set-backs.
1574 days ago
I personally use when I can really identify with that person's struggle and feel like I'm in the same boat. I love the support I get from other people on here and without support, none of us could do those, so together we stand and
1574 days ago
I for one appreciate the "We." This is an ever increasingly isolated world we live in. Food has been a friend for a long time. While I also appreciate the "You can do its," I love the feeling of being part of the group. I know..we ALL know...that my success is my success. But "my success" would never have happened without stepping in the interlaced fingers of the friends who are walking with me. I used to see certain Sparkers who were so successful when I first started and wondered, "Can I do that TOO?" (all while putting those folks on a pedestal.) Guess what? Those same Sparkers have the same struggles I do. I owe a debt of gratitude to the other Sparkers who have fought this battle right along there with me, whether we know each other or not. I know now that while our successes are very personal, they are also the basis for the successes of others.
You are absolutely right when you say this is a "a group in which we build each other up, listen to the frustrations, hurts, and challenges, and celebrate one another's successes. When one of us wins, we all win. That is all too rare in this world."
Congratulations on your success over the past 3 weeks! Stay plugged in. Whether you're struggling or succeeding. We are all in different stages of the journey and benefit from your insight and motivation.
1574 days ago
I, for one, definitely appreciate and embrace the "we" sentiment. Even with all the research and knowledge I've acquired about health, exercise and weight loss, I was not able to motivate myself to make changes to my lifestyle before I joined SP. Community is not only a motivation, but it's also vital for the health of your soul.
for being a CSA Girl!
1574 days ago
Very well said. I agree with you wholeheartedly. No of us can do this alone, if we could there would be no need for SP, but we do need each other and every time you say "We can do it" you are letting others know they are not alone. I thank you for the support you show to me and everyone else here because in supporting others, we make ourselves stronger. Good luck with your journey!
1574 days ago
Disclaimer: Weight loss results will vary from person to person. No individual result should be seen as a typical result of following the SparkPeople program.