Friday, August 9, 2013

Affirmations vs. shame

On my previous post Searching for the balance, Athor Pel states:
Women usually need affirmation in order to overcome obstacles.
I am very curious to know if this is true for most women.  Personally, shame works the best for me to overcome obstacles when I perceive the intent is for me to improve. 

Affirmation will make me miss the meat of the matter. If I'm wrong, I need to be told in the most obvious way, "you're wrong." And, it helps to include what the consequences of my wrongness are. I've never been one to change by receiving nudges. Throw me over the cliff or don't bother.

I reflect quite positively on individuals in my life who have been willing to go there with me. It tells me they valued me enough to say the uncomfortable. The flip side is, when I've been receiving affirmations or delicate nudges from someone who wasn't comfortable with "going there," I'll have a diminished respect for them.

I had a Sociology professor my first year of college who made my skin crawl. When he would ask questions, no matter how off our answer was he would cup his bearded chin in his hand, nod, and softly say something to the extent of, "that's a good answer but I'm looking for something a bit different." At seventeen years of age, this behavior of his made me want to hurl. If I'm wrong, tell me I'm wrong, you wuss.

Some might say he didn't want to discourage me from answering questions or didn't want me to feel bad about coming up with the wrong answer (really, at this point in life, answering a question wrong was not even on my radar of what could make me feel bad). My perception was that he was untrustworthy.

If affirmations are positive statements/judgments or something declared to be true, how is it possible for someone to need that in order to change things they've been wrong about or to overcome obstacles? And, how does one do that? Is it a matter of sandwiching things? (I've attempted to write out several examples and it's not working.)

I can't seem to wrap my head around it. Are there women who don't feel this as manipulation or dishonesty?


  1. I agree. I prefer the truth in the form of constructive criticism. The truth sometimes hurts, but it is what is real. When done in love, or at least in your best interest, it can accomplish much!
    Affirmations are good for those times when you make a decision and someone does or says something that affirms the decision, letting you know you are on the right track.

  2. Brava on taking a sentence and running with what you think was meant rather than asking.

    I think some explicitness is needed.

    It seems we're talking about two different time orientations. Your talking about the present. I'm talking about the future.

    As I'm talking about them, words of affirmation speak of an achievable future, a good future. A future attainable through the work of overcoming current adverse circumstance.


    Present - Yes, you're fat.
    Future - You can start lifting some weights and eating right. I know you can do it.

    1. That makes sense. I'm sorry I didn't ask for clarification. Considering you were talking about the future and the future example you gave, we are in agreement and that type of encouragement is something I value as well.

      Though I still have the same question when it comes to the different ways women are motivated to change that which she needs to change. The present example of "yes, you're fat," works for me. Does this work for the majority of women?

  3. For me personally nothing works but the cold hard truth. I guess im a little thick maybe but beating around the bush giving compliments along with correction just doesnt sink in for me. The only way I really change is to be smacked with truth. Affermations are nice, but not effective. I completely agree with you SD. Luckily I have a husband that serves the truth on a frozen platter anyhow. Which I am thankful for.

  4. Depends who it is coming from. Sound like what Athor said. I rarely care about peoples opinions because most should not be giving them. Lol.


    Nice looking and in shape Widow who is a Christian who homeschools her son is looking for a Husband.

    Praying for her.

  6. I perform better from a sense of duty. And I definitely prefer the cold, hard truth. Not that I don't appreciate words of affirmation, but they don't necessarily push me to go the distance.

  7. I'm seeing a trend here albeit a very small sample size.

    I really do wonder how common this is. And if husbands know that if there is something they believe their wives should change for her best interest, that speaking the cold hard truth is the best way of going about it.

  8. I wonder if the idea in general that women are more motivated by affirmation is not really just a sort of rhetorical device/bait-and-switch to keep women from being confronted by painful, ugly truths. It's much easier to ignore an "affirming suggestion" than an outright confrontation. And you can even add a little martyred "I feel so guilty for letting so-and-so down" game rather than confront the truth. After all, that sort of turns the problem back on them (Why do they think I need to do this? Why do they expect this of me? What's wrong with THEM that they don't see how perfect I am already?) rather than dealing with your own issue.


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