Are lifestyle labels the new religion?

I’ve been pondering the phenomenon of ‘lifestyle labels’ for a while now. These labels have caused me moments of deep anguish and anxiety and self doubt over the years as I’ve been on my own personal health journey.

I have survived three bouts of pretty severe depression and I actively and (mostly) productively live with anxiety on a day to day basis. It’s me. It’s my chemical make up and it’s something that I have tried to manage with medication, through diet and movement and I’ve also self medicated at various dark points with alcohol.

This isn’t easy for me to write about. But I’ve reached a point where I know what works for me and it doesn’t conform to any of the labels out there. But it works for me and it works for the other four members of my family as well, which is super important.

My efforts to work out if my diet is the root cause of my brains deficiency to keep me stable has seen me try many things – GAPS diet, paleo, no gluten, no dairy, no grains, etc. I’ve been apart of online groups in an effort to seek recipes and tips on living a lifestyle, and have witnessed some disgraceful dialogue about anything that is not consistent with the approach that the group in question espouses.

Now I’m all for “living your best life” and for you if that means being paleo or vegan is how you do it, then go you. However if your approach involves making anyone else feel like shit because they don’t do life like you do, then I’m sorry but don’t let the door hit you where the Lord split you.

I know it’s exciting when we learn new things and the urge to share this with our friends is overwhelming and we really want them to come along for the ride with us, but you have to go gently. I just don’t think it’s fair to start tagging your family or friends in your social media posts about how much more enlightened they could be if only they did x or y.

Only last week I was tagged in a post on Facebook. I’d had a loooong day with the kids and this post was urging me to realise I too am stardust and to avoid the media and politics etc. I was tired and I took it really personally and ended up in tears asking my husband why this person was targeting me? Professionally, politics is my life, it is also one of my personal interests and I felt that the person tagging me was having a go at me. Now I know it wasn’t the intent but that’s something enlightened folk are very quick to tell you, that is that you choose to feel that way. It’s not their fault you feel like that.

Now don’t get me started on choosing our feelings… I get it. But I feel so much all of the time #empathlyfe. I am regularly bemused that others don’t see how their preaching could be interpreted as criticism of someone else’s choices.

The other thing that my experience and research has shown me is that when you start going down the rabbit warren and researching the myriad of lifestyle approaches, there is usually someone at the end of the bunny hole that’s making money. And then there’s a handful of people making a LOT of money.

Making money is a good thing – I like making money. But I guess the preachy, making people feel less holier than thou because thee does not drink bone broth but has coffee in the morning, or the birthday cake has gluten and refined sugar in it dialogue a bit tiring. It reminds me of religion.

Like, it really reminds me of religion. It’s preachy. The “shining the light on others misguided choices and lighting the way to salvation” approach is very unfair. Especially in the climate of social media and insecurities and people believing all that they read. A bit of the David Avocado Wolfe effect. He is basically a modern day Jesus with all his followers and this church he has created; and don’t let the hair fool you, he is making serious coin.

Our religion at home is kindness and generosity and we practice the shit out of that every day. We are surrounded by people whose choices we don’t necessarily agree with but I’m not going to send them a list of references pointing out to them why their decisions are flawed. I’m not going to share posts on social media that will potentially make someone feel like they aren’t living life well. We support our friends and we speak up when it is warranted.

All I’m trying to say is that if you have something to say, please use your words to promote good. Don’t use fear, upsetting images or distasteful words to provoke guilt or make a person feel less about their choices. Advocate the good in what you are doing. Be passionate about your life. And please don’t tag your family and friends in your pyramid marketing scheme. If they want what you’re having because they can see the great things it is doing for you they will ask you about it.

Now go gently and do you.

Fondly,

S x

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