Love or treat (yoself)?

There are several Oprah-esque sayings that are floating around — 


“You have to take care of number one before you can take care of anyone else!”

“Treat yoself!”

“If you don’t love yourself you can’t love anyone else.”

Treat Yo Self GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY
We all know this gif was 100% obligatory

–For the sake of conciseness, I’m going to use Treat Yoself to encapsulate all of these self-affirming ideologies–

Part of me thinks this inspirational folk wisdomry in Treat Yoself is a bucket of rat poo. My main problem with the self-love bonanza is related to the context in which these statements are uttered, more than the actual statements themselves. Usually they are said to encourage people to be selfish or indulgent. I can only speak for myself, but I do not know anyone who is so caught up in being selfless and sacrificial that they somehow neglect themselves.* I would argue that most people need to hear “Sure take care of yourself, but why doncha try caring for others,” or “Treat (people less fortunate than) yoself!” or “Try to love… or at least consider the feelings and wants of… someone besides yourself.”

My second sub-issue with the Treat Yoself mentality is that treating yourself in terms of indulgence isn’t really a treat for you in the long run. Most people want to have nice bodies that function well, but if they continuously “treat themselves” with McDonald’s fries and Starbucks frapaccinos and refuse to move their body in any way that gives it strength, speed, or flexibility, their bodies will soon become… something that doesn’t spark joy. Most people want to have the treat of traveling the world, but if they continuously live above their means and treat themselves with expensive food, entertainment, cars, etc. in the domestic realm, poofity goes the treat of travel.

My third and final irritation with Treat Yoself is a little more specific to Christians, although I don’t think you necessarily have to ascribe to the apostle’s creed to get something out of this. Jesus did not prance about ancient Israel proclaiming a new covenant of self-love. If anything, the level of self-sacrifice he and many of his disciples demonstrated is plum terrifying. Remember Luke 9- “foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man [Jesus] has nowhere to lay His head.” Or Luke 17 “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.” Or how about the sobering Mathew 10 warning “Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them…” And these are only what Jesus said, but when you consider what he did…! I have serious doubts that Jesus was contemplating a bubble bath and wine in the Garden of Gethsemane, and there is nothing less Treat Yoself in all of history than a man dying for people who hated and misunderstood him.  

So, my beef with Treat Yoself is that 1) it doesn’t seem necessary, given the deep self-indulgence and entitlement that most of us already have and 2) temporary treats often undermine long-term treats (which may or may not be more wholesome in nature because involve dreaming, scheming, and the real longings of your heart–not simply the capricious whims of your body and immediate longings) and 3) it doesn’t seem particularly “on message” with people who are presumably interested in modeling the radically sacrificial nature of Jesus.  

Yet! Part of me sees some truth glimmering through all that rat poo.

The major reason I haven’t completely dismissed Treat Yoself is largely related to mental health and margin**. Let’s take even a light example – being stressed out. When I am stressed, I don’t “see” other people or take particular interest in their needs. I am thinking of whatever is stressing me out, and how to make myself feel better during the stressful time. That means I refuse to think about hard or important questions, and dissipation becomes my goal. I avoid people who are also stressed out because their stresses suck my mind further into a cesspool of anxiety. How can I be a rock for someone when I’m crumbling? Instead of having interesting and joyful conversations with my friends and family, I hijack quality time by dumping my stress on whichever poor soul was unfortunate enough to spend time with me.

Thus, if spending time in nature, enjoying beautiful and lovely things, getting my toes painted happy colors, and reading lighthearted fiction can help reduce my stress to the point I can stop my navel-gazing long enough to look at other people… is that an indirect way to love others? I think it could be.

Where does that leave us, then? I think the key might be to Love Yoself, not Treat Yoself. Treating indicates indulgence. Love indicates more wholistic well-being. Think about a parent loving their child. Spoiling the child isn’t really love – spoiling a child is more indicative that the parent is too lazy to properly discipline, or too insecure to handle their child getting angry at them for rules that are meant to protect them. I think being an adult is learning how to parent yourself properly – love yourself, not spoil yourself. Be willing to deny your childish impulses so that you can be the person you actually want to be — and who the people around you need you to be.   

The world needs adults, not petulant children. So Love Yoself 😊

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*I do know some martyrs who make a big to-do of how they are ruining their lives for the sake of others… I do not consider that actual selflessness. It’s a twisted form of pride.

 **Double points for sneaking in a Christian buzz word! BAM!  

 **Double points for sneaking in a Christian buzz word! BAM!

Think Like a Scientist: No evidence vs. evidence against in Facebook use and anxiety

This post will address one of the most important science-related concepts I think I’ve ever grasped: No evidence is not the same as evidence against.

“Whatever do you mean, Dr. Galloswag?!” exclaims you.

Okay – let’s think about Facebook use in relation to anxiety. Facebook has been accessible to the unwashed masses since 2006. I didn’t sign up until I began undergrad in Fall 2007.  #ancient Pretend my mum was nervous about the idea of me joining Facebook.

***

Mum of Cgallo: “I don’t know sweetums, it just seems like having that much interaction with random people without actually seeing them face-to-face could be bad for your mental health.”

Young Cgallo: “There is no evidence that Facebook use is linked to anxiety, Mum! Get out of my face!”

***

Guess what? Young Cgallo was technically right – at the time there wasn’t any scientific evidence. When I entered the search terms “Facebook, anxiety” into PubMed ( a database of life-science / biological articles), the earliest search result was from 2009, and the earliest might-be-relevant search result was dated 2013.

facebookanxiety1

facebookanxiety2
See?! I’m tellin the truf!

Why this delay? Because it took a while for older adults to realize how impactful Facebook was. Because research is slow. And so there was no evidence because, well, no one had looked for  it. But now there are articles galore on the relationship between Facebook use – and other forms of social media – in relation to anxiety.

facebookanxietyarticle
For example…

So Cgallo’s Mum in this imaginary situation was vindicated over time!

Takeaway #1: Sometimes someone can be technically correct that there is “no evidence” — but that’s because no one has published data on the topic at all!

Now, let’s imagine another scenario — what if there had been multiple studies of Facebook and anxiety, but most or all of the studies reported no significant correlation between Facebook use and anxiety. That is much more informative than there simply being no data at all… but it’s only moderately in favor of young Cgallo. When a study doesn’t find a relationship it could be because …

  • There is not a correlation between the variables of interest (in this case, Facebook use and anxiety)

OR…

  • Power issues: The study did not include enough participants to detect meaningful differences if they were there.
  • Operational-definition issues: The study defined anxiety in a funky way. One study might decide to look at Facebook use in relation to being diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by a therapist, another in relation to scoring high on a standardized anxiety scale, yet another in relation to self-reported feelings of stress.
  • Time-scale issues: The study could have looked at the effect of Facebook use over the course of a week and found no correlation to anxiety. That still doesn’t tell us much about the effect of Facebook use over several years.

Takeaway #2: Sometimes someone can be technically correct that there is “no evidence” — but that’s because all the studies conducted on the issue of interest had design issue(s). 

I remember the first time I really thought about this in graduate school, and it’s actually pretty frustrating. But there is almost always going to be another, usually different/better way a researcher could approach a research question. So often times, a lack of evidence means absolutely nothing meaningful IRL.

“What are you getting at here, Cgallo? Are you trying to suggest that we can never really say with confidence that two things are not related to each other??” demands you.

Mais non!” Cgallo sputters.

For one, if there are many good quality (e.g. large sample size, good operational definitions, relevant time scales) studies conducted on an issue and none of them find an association, that’s a pretty good clue that there may not actually be a relationship between Facebook use and anxiety, or whatever you’re interested in (autism and vaccine *cough cough*).

But let’s contrast all of this with the gold standard: evidence against!

Gold GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

What do I mean? Well, many researchers are terrified of publishing mumbo jumbo, so they err on the side of caution and choose statistical tests that are more likely to give false negatives than false positives (I may go more into what this means in a future post, if it pleases the queen). As a result of this statistical conservatism (teehee), it’s quite difficult to get results that say “yes! Thing 1 is related to thing 2 in a meaningful way!” *SO* if you really want to argue that there’s no relationship between Facebook use and anxiety, find evidence against this statement. How? Well, what if there was an entire body of research pointing to Facebook use being linked to feelings of calm, tranquility, peace, stability, happiness, etc.? That is very different – and in my opinion, much more meaningful – than a simple absence of evidence.

Takeaway #3: The absence of evidence for something (e.g. Facebook use being anxiogenic) is not nearly as powerful as evidence for the opposite (e.g. Facebook use being anxiolytic).

Great! I think we all feel better now! Make sure you share this article on Facebook!

Justin Bieber Wink GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

No one likes a petty-pooper

Before I get started, I must apologize for the title. I really struggled with this one, y’all. Sometimes the clever muse is not with me. 😥 

I have had a *most* difficult time lately not being petty. The word petty is derived from the French word, “petit,”* which simply means “small.” And that’s really what pettiness is – letting yourself get upset over small, unimportant things. Things like..

…when that girl suggested that my romantical woes might be linked to my minimal make-up, or in other words “maybe you ugly?” ** 

…or when that fb friend kept on passive-aggressively liking the comments of someone I was arguing with on the interwebs…

… or when that family member shares a million memes per day but never shares my blog posts…

You get the point. As embarrassing as it is to admit, all of these are examples of things that have legitimately bothered me IRL in the past year. Frankly, I’m beginning to think my tendency to be preoccupied with these small offenses isn’t just lamé, it’s evil.

I said it! EVIL.

 

Mean-Girls
Pettiness probably peaks in high school, amiright? (stolen from a rando blog, who probably stole it from someone else — PLEASE  DON’T BE PETTY AND SUE ME!)

 

If that seems a little extreme, hear me out. In his book The Good Samaritan Strikes Again, Patrick McManus proposes a theory that, although it’s almost been 20 years since I read the book, permanently lodged itself into my brainz because it was so brilliant.

 I have this theory that people possess a certain capacity for worry, no more, no less. It’s as though a person has a little psychic box that he feels compelled to keep filled with worries. When one worry disappears from the box, he immediately replaces it with another worry, so the box is always full. He is never short of worries. If a new crop of worries comes in, the person sorts through the box for lesser worries and kicks them out, until he has enough room for the new worries. The lesser worries just lie around on the floor, until there’s room in the box for them again, and then they’re put back in. They’re welcomed by the worries that have been in the box all the time: “Hi, guys! Good to have you back. Boy, you should have seen the duds that just left. And they had the nerve to call themselves worries!”  – Patrick McManus 

 We can only concern ourselves with so much. There’s an opportunity cost to pettiness – every time I choose to latch onto small things that nick my pride and hurt my feels, I sacrifice an opportunity to latch onto big things. Big things.. like the feels of others.

Seriously – that is the golden rule, is it not? 

So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets. – Jesus, in Matthew 7:12 

So there is a silver lining in all of this— I already have a breathtaking ability to latch onto small details, and an exquisite sensitivity to what might be offensive or rude! Imagine – just imagine! – if I channeled this for other people! What if I started noticing when other people were uncomfortable and did small things to help them relax? What if I realized when I was being a rude arse and apologized before it became a big deal? 

But my worry box is only so big. So if I’m all wrapped up in myself – completely tuned into how I feel, and whether or not I’m offended, and all other things me me me, I have zero capacity to focus on anyone besides myself.

So yas. It’s not a small thing to be petty. I have to choose, I s’pose. It’s me or all of you. 

— EDITORIAL NOTES —

*I just made this up, but it’s probably true. Ask the google machine, if you DARE! 

**I wish I made that up, but it’s true. Don’t.. be… petty…