I have a confession to make…. I have an addiction to pop music, especially when sung by daring, crazy women. The problem began when Madonna hit the charts when I was about 10 years old. I was raised Roman Catholic, and I can still remember the delicious excitement of listening to her naughty music! As a preteen, I’m pretty sure I barely knew what she was singing about, but something about the positive energy, and occasionally spiritual lyrics got me hooked.
I also love to dance. The fact that I don’t dance particularly well becomes completely irrelevant to me when the beat of those top 40 dance hits are in the air. My office staff is used to seeing me hip hop into the office lost in the world of my pop music, but my 12 year old daughter is much less tolerant of my shameless dancing. Despite my new status as “the most embarrassing mom in the world”, I dance because it lifts my spirits and gets me through those tasks I find to be pure drudgery. When I’m sad or scared a song like “You Make Me Feel Good” by Cobra Starship takes my thoughts a happier place. When I’m angry I burn off my negative energy by running 4-5 miles with the more rebellious pop hits raging in my ears. When I wasn’t subleasing and had an exam room I could “personalize” I had a plaque on my wall that read, “Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s learning to dance in the rain.” This saying reminds me that although we will perpetually face new challenges, it’s up to us to find ways to make this life our “heaven on earth”.
So this explains why the pop star, Kesha, has provided about forty percent of the inspiration for this posting. The other forty percent is from the Toltec warrior, Don Miguel Ruiz, author of The Four Agreements, my latest read. The remaining twenty percent comes from the amazing people in my weight management program, whose bravery I celebrated in my last posting. My group continues to do great! We are now up to 19 patients who in sum have lost 266 pounds! Five of these patients are type 2 diabetics that are now off their medications. Three are diabetics who were dependent on 4 insulin shots per day, and now only use one small daily injection or none at all.
So what do the pop star Kesha, a Toltec warrior, and my weight management patients have to do with each other? They have all given me insight into a concept that I find fascinating – social scripting. A social script is a set of rules that we were taught to believe by society. Ruiz calls this training “the domestication of humans”. Ruiz is very big on “dreams”. He argues that nothing we experience is actually “real” but is actually the “dream of the planet” which “includes all of society’s rules, its beliefs, its laws, its religions, its different cultures and ways to be, its governments, schools, social events, and holidays.” Ruiz eloquently describes how from birth we are taught “how to behave in society: what to believe and what not to believe; what is acceptable and what is not acceptable; what is good and what is bad; what is beautiful and what is ugly; what is right and what is wrong.”
We spend a lot of our time examining individual social scripts with my weight management patients. During the first month of the program every patient completes an exercise that identifies their own personal “language of rules” from a set of 72 selections. I’m intrigued by the fact that my initial patients seem to share several internal rules. Rules I often see in these patients include “Clean your plate”, “be good”, “please people”, “don’t rock the boat”.
The “domestication of humans” obviously has a necessary role in society. With our proclivity to succumb to the seven deadly sins (see my prior posting First Politics, Then Religion, Now Sex?! for details), one could imagine humanity without rules running completely amuck in a Lord of the Flies type fashion. That being said, I do believe we often ignore what we really want out of life because someone else has imposed their “dream” for what our life should look like upon us. Having to do things that actually go against the grain of our nature never feels good, but deviating from the social script imposed upon us invariably causes shame. People “medicate” their unhappiness and shame in a wide variety of fashions, but one common self-soother is food.
It’s important to identify those rules that work for us and continue to do our best to follow them, but it’s equally as important to identify those rules that we don’t necessarily need to follow. Just because a certain way of life works for one of our “scriptors” does not mean that by default it is right for us. People need to be empowered to “rewrite” their own script without guilt. So this is where Kesha comes in because I think it’s critical “You know we’re superstars, We R Who We R”!
The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, A Toltec Wisdom Book, Don Miguel Ruiz, 1997 Amber-Allen Publishing
The Lord of the Flies, William Golding, 1954 Faber and Faber Ltd.
We R Who We R
You Make Me Feel Good