I joined a group call this evening. The subject was about gearing yourself up & allowing yourself to share your stories with others. The leader of the call is a well-known writer in the creative/artistic field, with a bunch of colorful inspirational type books out there in bookshops. This was my first time on a call with her. It will also be the last time I call in.
She was taking some time with a woman who was sharing her fears of allowing her writing to be public, because she had been belittled and told she should give up. She was expressing her pain at being made to feel inadequate, and was very clear that people had gone after her pretty much without mercy for her temerity to stand out and call herself a writer.
And here’s what the “expert” said to this woman:
“It’s your choice to be hurt.”
This caused a great heat in my chest and I hung up, seething.
Yes, I can see where she was trying to motivate the woman to let go of the hurt.
But I am sorry, this sort of statement is not too far removed from “you were asking for it.”
This is highly irresponsible advice. It is victim-blaming at its core.
If she wanted to say “You’ll need to toughen up if you want to get published,” that would have been better stated differently. This is a speaker who talks openly about her own hurtful past, and her struggles to find serenity and claim her creativity. But according to her, it seems, one must dismiss any pain or uncertainty because it’s her responsibility to do so.
NO. It is her option to say “Why would you say that?” or “That’s a very cruel thing to say to someone you are supposed to care about” or “That’s not a good way to support me.” It is her option to remove those people from her life. But it is NOT the responsibility of the person who was abused to “just get over it.” Life doesn’t work that way, for one. [and it reminds me quite a bit of things I’ve been told in regards to my depression!] It was very obvious that the woman in question was very affected by the harsh criticism. It was irresponsible at best for the speaker to put the blame back onto her shoulders.
Look, there are a lot of self-styled guru types out there. There’s good info, bad info, and everything in between. I enjoy the advice and leadership from many of the coach/speaker/expert types, and I have learned a lot. But there is something to remember when you listen to these people: VERY FEW OF THEM HAVE ANY PROFESSIONAL TRAINING in Psychology, counseling, or therapy.
It would behoove THEM to remember that, as well.