Something has been on my mind lately and I have, again, debated back and forth whether or not to discuss it here. The reason being that it might cause more harm than good, at least that is what I fear. Granted, my view of it may not match up with the actuality of the situation. Yes, I have considered that, too. It’s one of the reasons that I have been reading up on self-discrepancy theory lately.
The self-discrepancy theory was first developed by E. Tory Higgins in his work Self-Discrepancy: A Theory Relating Self and Affect in 1987. Self-discrepancy theory is an attempt to understand the different types of negative emotions experienced by people who hold conflicting self-beliefs, or a discrepancy, about themselves.
The theory is composed of three domains of the self, which are actual self, ideal self, and ought self.
The actual self consists of the attributes that the individual believes he or she possesses or the attributes that a significant other believes he or she holds.
The ideal self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other desires or prefers for him or her to acquire.
The ought self consists of the attributes that the individual or a significant other believes he or she should or ought to possess. An example from literature helps distinguish between the ideal self and the ought self in the sense of a hero’s “personal wishes,” or ideal self, versus his “sense of duty,” or the ought self. – Self-Discrepancy Theory
I will say that I struggle with the “ought self” fairly frequently but my current conundrum is a little more…reversed than usual. So, as Inigo Montoya would say, “Let me ‘splain. No, is too much. Let me sum up.”
Almost fourteen months ago, I gave birth to my daughter. I had spent nine months being pregnant and dealing with all the body image and self-discrepancy issues that came with pregnancy: the loss of my figure, the changes in my body and emotions, the raging hormones, the cravings, the lack of activity, the being told “you can’t”, etc. I spent this past summer working very, very hard on getting fit again, walking and working out every day, counting calories, and all of that. My progress was slow, at least to me it was. But now, after almost two years, I am within two pounds of my average pre-pregnancy weight.
Until now, until tonight and a very specific conversation with a friend, I never would have posted that. I never would have let myself celebrate that, not in private and most certainly not in a public forum like this one. I have been very scared of posting my progress with weight loss because I fear people thinking I am bragging or that I am shaming them, or, ever more the worse, them feeling badly about themselves, for whatever reason. I’m no worrying about what I am not. I am worrying about what I am. I feel like I ought to keep my weight loss to myself. I ought to do it to protect those I love and keep them buoyed up, give them no reason to be down on themselves. I ought to not be…well, me. But my friend pointed out, “But by doing that aren’t you doing to yourself the very same thing you’re afraid of them doing? I imagine if they knew that you were internalizing your sense of self-love they’d be sad. Does my loving myself make you feel down on yourself?” And, the truth is, no, it doesn’t make me feel down. It makes me smile to see my friend happy and doing well. I guess I can only hope that expressing myself can encourage others to do the same thing, to celebrate their accomplishments, their triumphs.
So here I am, honest in my accomplishment. After almost two years, I am within two pounds of my weight goal, I am getting stronger, getting my figure back, and feeling pretty happy with and proud of myself.
Thank you for listening. I leave you with this quote from Marianne Williamson that my friend also gave me to ponder.