This commonsense ethic suggests we treat others the way we would like to be treated. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But what isn’t explicitly said is that it can be manipulative and misguided, and so I’m offering an alternative to guide you instead: The Reverse Golden Rule.
Join me this week as I share why I believe it’s useful to rethink the concept of The Golden Rule and what I think The Reserve Golden Rule can bring you instead. Using this alternative to guide you on your weight loss journey is so much more compassionate and loving, and it will transform the way you treat the most important person in your life: yourself.
This is Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown, episode 59.
Welcome to Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you’re a successful woman who is ready to stop struggling with your weight, you’re in the right place. You’ll learn everything you need to know to lose weight for the last time in bitesize pieces. Here’s your host, Master Certified coach, Natalie Brown.
Hello everyone. I am taking issue today with a commonsense ethic we have all likely heard, been taught, taught our children, and thus propagated throughout society as a whole. The Golden Rule.
Why, you may be asking, what has The Golden Rule ever done to me? Well, nothing really. I just feel like I’m uniquely qualified to take on and question this widely used maxim. Just kidding, but seriously, I think it would be useful to rethink it a bit for a couple of reasons.
First of all, as it stands, The Golden Rule which as a refresher for any of you who have forgotten it or have never been taught it for some reason is do unto others as you would have them do unto you. It’s commonly interpreted, especially by children, or our toddler brains, as do unto others as you would have them do unto you in order to manipulate them into treating you a certain way so you can feel a certain way.
Like be respectful so that you can feel respected, give compliments so you will get complimented. Oftentimes, selfishness disguised as selflessness. I don’t think it’s intended that way but our brains can make anything nefarious, right?
So I take issue with this not because I’m an anti-selfishness person because there’s a time and a place for being concerned with one’s own pleasure. But because I’m anti-trying to make other people do things so we can feel the way we want to. It just doesn’t work that way.
Other people doing or not doing things does not make us feel things. It’s our brain’s interpretation of their actions that makes us feel things. So I think this idea that we treat people a certain way so they will treat us a certain way and then we’ll get to feel the way we want to is misguided.
Another issue I have with this maxim is that we are treating people as we want to be treated. Not as they want to be treated. We assume that they want what we want. They like what we like. They expect what we expect. This is not always the case.
I love this Dale Carnegie quote. “Personally, I am very fond of strawberries and cream. But I have found that for some strange reason, fish prefer worms. So when I went fishing, I didn’t think about what I wanted. I thought about what they wanted. I didn’t bait the hook with strawberries and cream.”
Seems pretty commonsense. This different version, treat people how they want to be treated has you inquiring as to what that may be. How might they want to be treated? It has you being conscientious, curious, compassionate, I’m all in for that.
But all of this, do unto others stuff, focuses our energy on how we treat others and it ignores the most pivotal relationship, the one with ourselves. And this made me think. What if The Golden Rule was do unto others as you do unto you? How would that go?
Think about the way you talk to yourself, regard yourself, judge yourself, feed yourself. What if you had to go out into your families and the world and start treating everyone the way you treat yourself? What if you had to say the things you say to yourself when you look in the mirror out loud to people on the street or your partner or your kids?
What if you had to tell your best friend or your work colleague when they make a mistake or they fall short of their expectations or goals the exact same things you tell yourself when you eat off your plan? What if when your kids were stressed, bored, sad, or wanting to celebrate, you fed them the same stuff you feed yourself when you feel those things and want to chase it away?
What if when your daughter said she was full, you were like, “So what? It tastes so good. Just ignore that and keep going until you can’t fit anymore in?” It seems ludicrous. And yet we somehow don’t think anything of it when it’s ourselves in that situation.
In fact, to the contrary, I often hear my clients express that it feels necessary to beat themselves up so they will learn. That if they look in the mirror and they say I accept you as you are and you are more than a body, that they will never change.
I’m listening to Jordan B. Peterson’s 12 Rules for Life and rule two expresses what I think is The Reverse Golden Rule and the one we should use to guide our weight loss journey. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. Think about what that might look like for a minute.
Imagine you are super stressed and working to meet a deadline. When you come home at the end of the night, all you want is as much wine and chocolate and pizza as you can get your hands on. If you were someone you were responsible for helping in this moment, what might you do? What would be helpful? What is it you are actually needing and wanting?
Likely at the end of a long intense day, you need some rest. Some nourishment. Some acknowledgment of what you accomplished and little inner celebration of the hard work you put in and what you’re capable of. We ignore that. We head to the quick fixes.
We skip giving ourselves love, listening to what we need, honoring what our body wants, not super helpful. Imagine you just started going back to the gym. Post-pandemic, when everyone’s safe and we can go back to gyms. And you catch a glimpse of yourself in the mirror.
If you were someone you were responsible for helping in this moment, what would you do? I know what you probably wouldn’t do. Push yourself through a really intense painful workout as punishment. You would also probably not spend time criticizing how tight your pants look or the new rolls you developed over the last nine months.
You would celebrate your commitment to health. You would feel proud of yourself for simply showing up. You would focus on how it feels to move in your body, how it feels to be aware of your muscle strengthening and stretching, your heart pumping blood for your body and taking oxygen to your muscles, your gratitude for the opportunity to feel your lungs working hard.
None of that has anything to do with how you look in your workout clothes. And all of it’s going to be much more helpful than what you currently do is my guess.
A quick side note fact I learned recently regarding your lungs, they require proper hydration in order to oxygenate and expel carbon dioxide effectively. So just one more reason to drink lots of water. It’s my plug for H2O.
Think about the people you are responsible for helping. Maybe it’s your kids, customers, aging parents, people in your community, employees, friends, siblings, pets. How do you show up for them? How do you interact with them? How do you speak to them? How do you regard them? How do you help them? How do you know how to help them?
I think this is actually a really good question to require yourself to answer for you. How do you know what is actually helpful to you? How do you know what help you want and need?
I think the best way to find out is asking questions, right? You would ask the someone you were responsible for helping how you could help them, what they needed help with, what would be most helpful to them. Have you ever asked yourself that?
Just the simple question, how can I best help me here? Think about the honest answer to this question in some of your most challenging situations. Like when you see the number on the scale and it isn’t moving the direction you want it to, your brain wants you to believe that this is a major problem, a predictor of all of your capability and future success.
That this means you are broken, you will never be able to figure this out. Thanks brain. But not super helpful. What would happen if you paused here, treated yourself like someone you’re responsible for helping, and asked how can I best help me here?
I think when it comes to the scale, treating it as the neutral piece of data that it is is the most helpful thing to do. When the number goes up, put it in proper perspective and get curious. The scale will always fluctuate a little from day to day. It’s just how it is.
There are so many factors that affect it. It won’t stay exactly the same all of the time, even in maintenance. So you want to make sure you are noticing, is this a day-to-day fluctuation? Has it gone up and stayed up for days or weeks? If yes, why? What did I eat or not eat? What did I do or not do? What could I shift or adjust?
What is unhelpful? Making scale fluctuations mean something about your value or what’s possible for you in the future. What is unhelpful? Using the scale going up as an excuse to throw it all out the window and eat like a jerk to punish yourself.
Think about situations like when you don’t get promoted, or have a disagreement with your partner, or your mother-in-law shares her opinion about you with you. And your brain says eat all the things. What would happen if you paused here, treated yourself like someone you are responsible for helping, and asked, how can I best help me here?
Is what I need most eating all the things? Usually not the most helpful solution or even a solution at all. Sometimes the most helpful thing is feeling what you feel. That may sound silly to you if you are all in on feeling, but for most of us who use food as the escape from feeling discomfort, feeling instead of eating sounds pretty terrible.
But sometimes what’s most helpful is not necessarily what’s most comfortable. Feeling the disappointment or anger or hurt, our willingness to do so helps us build our emotional vocabulary so that we don’t need to escape with food.
It can also be helpful to look at the thinking creating the feeling. What are we making the not getting promoted mean about us? What’s the problem with having a disagreement? Why is your mother-in-law’s opinion of you a problem for you?
Eating all the things shuts down learning and leads to guilt, shame, discomfort, and usually more eating. Treat yourself like someone you are responsible for helping. That’s a rule I can totally get on board with. If you were someone who you were responsible for helping, how would you treat you?
Okay everyone, have an amazing week. Spring has sprung or started to spring in my neck of the woods and I’m so excited. It means more sunshine, blossoms, longer days, and a new weight loss group starting at the end of April. So if you’d like some help learning to treat you like someone you are responsible for helping, head to itbeginswithathought.com/apply and I’ll see you soon.
Thanks for listening to this week’s episode of Weight Loss Success with Natalie Brown. If you want to learn more about how to lose weight for the last time, come on over to itbeginswithathought.com. We’ll see you here next week.