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    ITSMATT   13,972
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The Absolute Value of Truth

Friday, March 15, 2013

You get that sometimes?

The "Talk to the Hand" reaction to something you've said or written?

I do, occasionally.
And it frustrates me a bit.

I'm not losing sleep over it but it DOES frustrate me when someone simply isn't interested in hearing the truth.

Sometimes people have said or written that I'm being negative in my approach toward their ideas or plans or line of thinking.
I won't be so blind to my own imperfections to say that their words are patently false.
Because sometimes... well... sometimes I can be quite blunt.
And occasionally... well, my words might come across negatively.

In mathematics there is this idea of the absolute value of a number.
Before you tune out because I used the word "mathematics", stick with me.
I won't delve into non-Euclidean geometry or discuss L'H˘pital's rule.

The absolute value function takes it's argument and essentially returns a value which is the same distance from zero but is positive.
So the absolute value of -1 is 1.
And the absolute value of 1 is 1.
And the absolute value of 0 is 0.

Not so bad.

Recently I provided some unsolicited advice to an individual.
Strictly speaking, this person didn't say "Matt, I'd like to say some things and get your personal opinion on the matter."
But this person did put their thoughts out into what is essentially a public forum where individuals can and do add commentary.
It is my opinion that if you are going to do that, you've got to expect to get some feedback from time to time.

As you might imagine, the advice wasn't well received.

Sometimes I think folks simply don't want to hear anything that differs from their closely-held beliefs.

As Paul Simon wrote, "...a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest."

And so my opinion and words of advice are little more than a "pocket full of mumbles", as it goes in "The Boxer".

To be fair, I'm not everyone's cup of tea.
I get that.

So I started thinking about my delivery a bit.
And asking the question "Is there such thing as the absolute value of truth?" and pondering that.
Meaning, is the "packaging" around which the truth is delivered important?

I believe it is.
And furthermore I believe that if the recipient views this "packaging" as being negative, it is highly unlikely that they will be able to see past it to the truth inside.

And that is unfortunate.

And I believe that I have played a role in pushing one person here at SparkPeople away from the site.
To be honest, I think it involves much more than my commentary on a couple of posts.
But I've played a role nonetheless.

And that too is unfortunate.

It is never my intention to beat anyone down.

But I recognize that my general approach is one that might be taken wrong, particularly by someone who is struggling and hasn't asked for my blunt opinions.
Again, I'm not everyone's cup of tea.

I am, however, quite certain that the advice and encouragement I give is generally spot-on.
Not because I'm something special or have got it all figured out.
It's just that my advice here on this site is pretty simple.
Track what you eat.
Focus on the daily net calorie target.
Work to become mentally stronger.
Get up and move a bit throughout the week.

It is hard to argue with that.


Losing weight is hard and people tend to fail.
People tend to give up.
People tend to search for solutions.
And people have baggage they are dealing with.
Family baggage.
Environmental baggage.
Thoughts in their heads.

We all have baggage.
I'm not immune to it.
Again, I'm nothing special.
Just an average guy trying to lose weight, get fit and be healthy.
Like most other people here.

I think I'm going to rethink my commentary on other people's blogs a bit.
Not sure how that will work yet.

As for my own blog posts...

Well, this is MY place and I've got thick skin and don't have any problem fielding complaints and dissenting opinions.
And I can't imagine I'll be watering down the message here.
This blog isn't required reading for anyone...
Well, anyone other than me, that is.

So I'm perfectly OK saying things here such as:

Unless and until you get your head in the game, you're going to spin your wheels and be unsuccessful at weight loss.

It is your job to get your life together.

The victim's cloak you've been trying to use to shield yourself from the truth needs to go.

Because you are not a victim.

You are strong. Strong enough. Way stronger than you think.

And those excuses you keep making... they are lies you tell yourself to avoid dealing with the real issues.

Issues like the fact that you haven't decided that your weight loss is a priority today.

Issues like the fact that you are unfocused and worry more about ancillary things than the core problems.

And issues like the fact that you have spent a lifetime making bad choices and it will take hard work and dedication to undo that.

I'll keep saying those thing here because ** I ** need to hear them.

I just might not say those things in comments on other people's blogs anymore.

Particularly people who don't know me and whom I don't know.

At least that's my thinking at the moment.

Folks will come and go... the percentages are not particularly encouraging.
Most people give up and sometimes it appears that people are just looking for an excuse to give up.
I'm not going to contribute to that.
I'm not going to give them their easy out.

In the end, each of us has to take control of our own life.
To OWN our life and deal with whatever state it is in.
Individually we need to step up and grab the wheel.

Do that or you will likely fail.

But you're strong enough not to fail.
Do you realize that?

Make it a great day!

[Images provided under Creative Commons license. Thanks to wayneandwax, me and the sysop]

Member Comments About This Blog Post:
SPARKLISE 3/20/2013 8:27AM

    emoticon The truth hurts, especially when we don't want to hear it.

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CLPURNELL 3/18/2013 11:43PM

    awesome Blog! Think you are spot on.

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MOVIEGAL1 3/18/2013 9:47AM

    All I can say is that I look forward to your comments and welcome them. Maybe people aren't always ready to face the truth and what you write makes them think about these truths..... I think that is a good thing. If it wasn't for one of your posts....I wouldn't be tracking food. Thanks for always making me think!!!

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DIETSAFARI 3/17/2013 1:38PM

    I am so impressed when people are straight with me, and with others. It takes guts.
Sensitive people can always delete a post from their site and ignore it on a forum.
(By the way I believe that absolute truth is called God. And He always speaks with love, and He is always straight.)
I think your insight and plain speaking is very valuable.

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MICKEYH 3/16/2013 8:38PM

    We all needs some one like yourself, who really care about someone else's weight loss achievement and healthy lifestyle just like your own to give us some earnest opinion about the fact in our life. In my blogs, if you had a chance to read it, I welcome your support by commenting constructive criticism. If I am too weak to take that, I can delete your comment. Spark people has giving us this option to each every one of us. If you don't like what you get in your answer, just do what you need to do and move on. I think the answer is that simple. So don't feel sorry for it. Go ahead ok?

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INTHEGAP 3/16/2013 8:01PM

    I'm sorry that you had to experience an 'overly sensitive' person's wrath, Matt. Been there, done that. And NO, I don't believe you are partially responsible, or in ANY way responsible for anyone leaving Spark People. That person was looking for a reason, or an excuse, to not take care of themselves. That simple. They didn't want to walk the talk. Its easier to blame someone, anyone, and just give up. Too bad, so sad. emoticon

Please keep on doing what you are doing. I really enjoy, and get a LOT of help from your blogs. As do a lot of people Don't change for anyone. You are a straight shooter ~ and much appreciated!!!!

Comment edited on: 3/16/2013 8:02:38 PM

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LOSINIT52 3/16/2013 6:54PM

    I for one don't want someone to tell me that my bad behavior is fine. If I fess up and write about it I am looking for a kick in the pants, not a there there you deserve a (whatever I did that is going to keep me fat) which is what I mostly read. I am here to get healthy and that is the support I am looking for.
While I am ranting I also abhor the "recipes " that say take a package of this and add a can of that etc. Not what I think of as spark friendly.
Appreciate your blogs.
Spark cheers

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BABY_GIRL69 3/16/2013 2:49PM

    It is so hard to hear the truth bottomline. We don't really desire to hear it but let me tell you we already know. We try to cover it up with lies & untruths....

God bless,


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KABMPH 3/16/2013 8:19AM

    You can be as blunt as you want on my blogs, Matt! I often appreciate hearing someone else's point of view about my life. Adds perspective.

I am not overweight and I never have been. In my time on this site and watching The Biggest Loser, and with my mother's obesity, I have come to the conclusion that many (not all, of course) people who become severely overweight have a lot of mental stumbling blocks (that people who are normal weight do not have), which leads to their becoming overweight. What I read in many blog posts is a lot of give-up attitude and self-hatred. I certainly don't comment because I don't have points of relatablity. I don't "friend" them because our lives and goals are not compatible. I can't even offer "been there/done that!"

In most cases, I agree with what some of the others have also said: their response is not about you, it's all about them. Maybe your goal is trying your best to know who will be most open to your tough comments.

Comment edited on: 3/16/2013 3:33:56 PM

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DEBRA0818 3/16/2013 4:55AM

    Hi Matt,

Your story reminded me of an analyst who said to me when I was doing my graduate studies in counseling psychology that "no one likes to have their psychopathology pointed out to them." This is a highly ironic and paradoxical conclusion for a psychoanalyst to have, yet it rings true. The more psychopathology that is present, the stronger the defense against hearing about it. This is not to say that we cannot blunder socially in our effort to be helpful, but just to say that the extreme reaction to it comes not from the offer but from the defenses of the recipient. Put another way, why would your opinion (whatever it was) have such an incendiary effect on another person? I can say for my own self that my strongest reactions to others come from my own purely idiosyncratic fears and have little to nothing to do with the other person. This anonymous forum has the added feature of allowing people to act out with little social result and with predictable results.

Cheers, Debra

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SEEINGCLEARLY53 3/16/2013 3:09AM

    All I know is I NEED a Jillian and not Bob!,,,,

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DALID414 3/16/2013 2:12AM

    I actually like that you're so blunt. We all need someone like you in our lives. Feel free to comment on my very public blogs. emoticon

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DOVESEYES 3/16/2013 12:53AM

    Like you say we have baggage, all of us and sometimes we get cut by words and it forms a scar and new people tend to pick it off over and over till we are way overly sensitive.

I'm sad for you and the person, because you are one of the people who really cares about yourself and us who stop by to check out your thoughts. It's a shame they got upset by your words, I hope in the future they will take them into consideration in their journey.

Thanks for your blogs --keep it up!!!

emoticon emoticon

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BOOKAPHILE 3/15/2013 11:51PM

    Hi Matt. I'm glad you aren't going to water down your blogs. You are blunt, but I've come to expect and appreciate that approach from you. It's understandable that you don't want to be the excuse someone uses to quit trying. I hope you don't let them become your excuse for falling silent. I'd miss hearing from you. Tempering your words on strangers' blog posts sounds like a reasonable compromise to try.

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KNEWMETODAY 3/15/2013 11:50PM

    It probably is never easy to hear the things we're not ready to hear, and it is probably too easy to blame the messenger; nonetheless, on any given day, truth is best. Delivery, even with the best intentions, always is going to be filtered through the receiver. What they hear is not always what you say!

Nice blog, by the way!


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