Diabetes, Diet or Self-Hate: What is the Real Cause of Disease?
Written by Dr. Larry
When I first started in medicine, I thought health started with diseases like high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Then I realized that behaviors like diet and exercise were deeper determinants of health and disease. If you eat crap and don’t exercise, you can develop diabetes, for example.
But the longer I work with people, the more I’ve realized it doesn’t stop there; it goes to the core issues that we deal with as human beings. And there may not be a more core issue than the following:
This topic comes up with my male clients and patients frequently — this is not a feminine, touchy-feely, yoga, Vinyasa, touch-me-some-more topic. It’s human core: male and female, fellas. And, to be your best as a man, you would be wise to go there. Bro.
I had a buddy who lost over 50 pounds, but when he was dumped by his girlfriend, he went back to the place of hating himself, even though he looked so much better. Neither obesity nor his behaviors (diet and exercise) were the real issue or the real diagnosis. It was self-hate. This was at the core of his health and, really, his well-being and livelihood.
We need to talk about it. Shit, we need to do more than talk about it. We need to go there, feel it and deal with it. We need to make some progress in loving ourselves (no, I’m not talking about porn and masturbation; that’s a “different” form of self love. Sorta.) and how we treat and relate to ourselves, in order to truly be our best.
So, what the hell can you really do about this? Are you just fucked if you didn’t learn this in childhood?
Kidding. Of course you can work on self love. A good place to start is a similar spiritual path as many others — awareness.
1. Become more conscious.
How often do you do the following: Talk to yourself negatively. Become aware of how many times in the next two days you talk to yourself negatively.
- “Lorenzo, you stupid piece of shit.”
- “You moron! Why did you do that! What’s wrong with you?”
- “WHAT IS YOUR MAJOR MALFUNCTION, NUMBNUTS? DIDN’T MOMMY AND DADDY SHOW YOU ENOUGH ATTENTION WHEN YOU WERE A CHILD?”
- “HOW TALL ARE YOU PRIVATE?… I DIDN’T KNOW THEY STACKED SHIT THAT HIGH!”
And pretty much everything that came out of the drill sergeant’s mouth from “Full Metal Jacket.” I almost lost this article into reciting those quotes.
2. Replace critical self-hate talk with supportive self-love talk.
Self-love does sound a little femme to me, but consider substituting the hate with the voice and words of a good coach, mentor or friend. I think of Lou Holtz (Go Irish) or the Professor from X-Men: “Logan, I may be able to help you find what you have been looking for.”
3. Use these substitutions.
When you screw up, instead of “You dumb shit,” say to yourself, “Mistakes happen, and I will learn from them.”
When you are rejected by a babe, instead of saying “Smooth move, Ex lax,” say to yourself, “She wants me.”
Some other thoughts as I close out this blog.
4. Try the mirror thing — looking in the mirror and saying,”I love you, big guy.”*
*Saying “big guy” optional.
5. After becoming aware of how self-talk reflects and affects self-love, think about your action.
For men, I want you to first consider how you treat (love) your body (diet, exercise, sleep, alcohol/drugs), and how your degree of devotion to your career vs. fun/relationships/travel/ experiences may reflect self-love vs. hate.
6. Focus on the feeling of positive self-regard, not just the words and behaviors, although ideally all should align.
So many other things to talk about, like how self-love and acceptance of your body does not mean complacency or that you can’t want to look better, ripped or more sexy. Great point, Brittney, and a fine line to walk.
But I will leave you here again with the following reality — it’s not just about high blood pressure and diabetes, nor just what you eat or exercise, although those do matter. It STARTS, fundamentally, with how you relate to yourself. Do you love or hate yourself? And in what ways? Now is a good time to figure it out and make some adjustments.
In the words of Professor X: “Just because someone stumbles and loses their path doesn’t mean they’re lost forever. Sometimes, we all need a little help.”