Yesterday in response to my post about boundary setting for family and friends food police, I suggested that one option for creating a boundary with a consequence attached was to say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave” and then, if they fail to respect your boundaries, it’s time to go. I got the following comment in response, I think it’s a question that lots of people have and I want to address it:
But, if you just get up and leave, they will likely say that you are doing so because you “can’t handle the truth”, are “lying to yourself”, etc. If they don’t say it, they may at least THINK it. How would you and/or your readers deal with a possibility such as this?
One of the benefits of having so many haters so obsessed with me is that I get criticized for nearly every single thing I do or say – every blog post, Facebook post, Youtube video, etc. If I say that I like tea, there will be a thread on Reddit within 5 minutes about how I’m a liar and I really like coffee. This can actually be a really good thing since, though I don’t think I’d give into it, I’m never tempted to behave in a way that I think could avoid criticism, since I’ll be criticized no matter what I do. It has also solidified my answer to my commenter’s question from yesterday, which is this:
They may well think or say those things. If there’s anything that I’ve learned from my haters, it’s that people will go to any length to justify their prejudice to themselves and anyone who will listen. I cannot control what people think of me, nor can I control their behavior. I don’t care what people think, I care how they treat me in my presence.
So when I say “It is not ok to talk about my weight or eating. If anyone says one more thing about my weight or eating I’m going to leave.” I’m not trying to control what people think – they can think whatever the hell they want, I am stating clearly what behavior I will and will not tolerate, and what I will do if they continue the behavior that I find offensive.
If they continue discussing my weight or eating and I leave, it’s not to control what they think – it’s to remove myself from a situation that is outside of what I will put up with.
If people want to spend time with me they have to treat me a certain way, which includes not body shaming or food policing me. So while they are allowed to think whatever they want about me, my body, and my food choices, they are 100% responsible for keeping those thoughts to themselves if they want to spend time with me (and they are under no obligation to want to spend time with me, of course.)
Most of the people in my life with whom I’ve had to set this boundary have been able to pull it together and behave appropriately. There are a few who haven’t, and they don’t get to spend time with me anymore. I don’t know or care what they think about me, as long as I don’t have to put up with it. Of course your mileage may vary, but I’ve found that – when it comes to family and friends food police – if I stop focusing on what people think and start focusing on what I want, things become better right away.
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