October 23, 2017

The Psychology of Momastery

  • by Dr. Melissa Miller
  • January 7, 2017
  • 1
momastery

The internet became a thing while I was still in high school.  Some of you young chickens reading this may think this makes me ancient, but I am still in my thirties thank you very much.  Never in my early years would I have imagined how integral the internet would become in my lifeNow the web is my go-to source of all information. Last night I hosted a dinner party, and I used my favorite sugar blogger to make a delicious vanilla cake from scratch. In the middle of my search, I stopped to wonder how many blogs posts are out there on cake baking alone.  So I Googled ‘Cake Baking Blog,‘ and my jaw dropped when almost 22 MILLION results returned.  The sheer volume of information available to internet users is crazybut how much of the information is garbage versus trustworthy?  

Now baking is a fairly harmless subject, but what about all the self help blogs and mental health adviceavailable online?  I am here to tell you there is some scary and really weird stuff on the web proclaiming how to live better.  I have read that if I have sex with my husband every day for a year and wear lace panties I will strengthen my marriage and cure my body image issues (please note my sarcasm and do NOT think about trying this). I read a self help blog calling all adult children who are no longer in touch with their parents, selfish and gave solace to the lonely parents knowing that one day their children would be wracked with so much guilt and remorse they would not be able to stand it.  Now, nowhere in the blog did the nameless author make a side note saying that perhaps children who endured physical, sexual, or emotional abuse or neglect at the hands their parents were making an understandable decision to cut ties with their parents once they became adults.  Nope, ALL of these adult children are evil, and ALL of these parents have been wronged.  See how dangerous blogs can become to someone seeking help?  

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So how is it that uncredible bloggers gain a large following and become trusted sources? There is an interesting phenomenon in psychology called the confirmation bias, which means we tend to read or watch things that confirm our own beliefs and opinions.  A great deal of power is wielded when bloggers share their stories or opinions, and if they match our own experience and beliefs, we feel strongly connected with these sites or bloggers.  The danger is when we elevate their opinions or story into facts.  We tend to quickly forget that most bloggers are just every day people who are sharing thoughts, and we wrongly elevate them to expert status.  

Maybe we all need a reminder to be critical consumers on the vast world wide web…

Finding a blogger who you can feel good about can be a like mining for gold.  It is rare to find a gem that has credible information, and is also a captivating writer.  To save you a little time in mining through the mountain of bloggers on-line, I’m going to put one extremely popular writer under my psychological microscope and see how she pans out.  Today I examine Glennon Doyle Melton, writer of Momastery, and author of New York Times best selling book Carrie On, Warrior.  In case you haven’t ever read a blog by Glennon, here is a good starting place.

It was this very post that hooked me onto Momastery.  I laughed out loud.  Her story made me want to shout, “Ha! I get it sister! Let me tell you about the time my daughter told  her violin teacher that her teeth were yellow!! Carpe Diem that!” I felt so connected to Glennon, and her sharing this relatable nightmare story made me feel so much more normal. I loved that from this funny/not funny story she actually offered some great words of wisdom,  like she was offering a little slice of freedom to her millions of mom readers. So after this, I dug deep into the Momastery world.  I wanted to know more about what she had to say.  I read her blog from the beginning to the end.  And after that I ordered her book, because I still  wanted more.  Yet this is exactly why she needs to be put her under the microscope.  I immediately connected with Momastery because it is very relatable to my own experiences, and I happen to agree with her opinions on life.  Yet I would be blind if I thought, “I like what she is saying, I believe it to be true, and so therefore this blog is fact and confirms that I am right.”   Especially since Glennon directly offers advice on how to deal with life, specifically uncomfortable emotions, mental health and addiction, sheneeds to be properly vetted to make sure she is putting good information out there for the world to read.  It is time for me to leave my emotion and my opinion at the door and get down to business.

I want to be very clear that I am putting Glennon’s writing on recovery, mental health, and dealing with uncomfortable emotions under the microscope.  I am NOT putting her spiritual beliefs under the microscope.  It is impossible to try to say that someone’s spiritual and religious beliefs are right or wrong, good or bad.  So please understand, to each their own when it comes to this.  You will either like what she says about that, or you won’t.    

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Glennon talks very openly about her history of addiction, eating disorder, and mental health.  She shares stories about recovery and life struggles.  She calls herself a truth teller, and states how important it is to not live in a world of secrets and lies.  Most importantly, she normalizes the painful experience that living is.  That is right, she talks honestly and directly about the reality that there is a lot of pain in living a human life, and this is normal.  Glennon does not try to encourage the pursuit of happiness, but instead supports the courage for everyone to be able to tolerate the pain of life without numbing themselves.  I will get into more detail of her messages in part 2 of this article, in case your eyes are wide and you are wondering what I could possibly mean by this.  I’ve looked at her words and messages forwards and backwards, and I am ready to deliver my verdict.  Does she pass the psychologist approval?



With flying colors.  If you are a fan of Momatery, you can relax and feel good about the wisdom you are getting from Glennon.  Why?  Glennon may not know it (although I have a sneaking suspicion that she does), but how she is encouraging people to live is completely backed up by the most researched theories and evidence-based treatments in the world of psychology. ACT (acceptance and commitment therapy), exposure based CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy), and DBT (Dialectical Behavioral Therapy) are at the heart of all of her messages.  The beautiful thing is, reading a Momastery post is much more powerful and entertaining than reading a scholarly article on anxiety treatment.  Yet the end result is the same, a gold mine of good information on how to be brave and struggle well with life. What I also adore about Glennon is she is such an advocate for mental health.  She is so passionate about every person being aware of and taking care of their mental health needs, including her own.  Glennon’s message is that there is no shame in therapy, medication, self-care, and community or other support systems.  And to be clear, Momastery is to be used as an additional support to feel connected to others, not to be used in place of treatment.  

If you can believe my luck, when I decided I wanted to write this article it just so happened Glennon was coming to speak near where I live.  I fell out of my chair when I actually scored an interview with her before she spoke!  I got to spend some pretty fabulous time asking her about her messages, mission, and life.  Now that you know Glennon is a credible source of information to be trusted, stay tuned for part 2 of this article where I share all the delicious goodness of the interview. I won’t share the part where I realized halfway through the interview that I didn’t actually press the record button on my audio recorder.  Or maybe I will, because it turned out to be hysterically awesome.  Just you wait…

So Carry On, Glennon Doyle Melton.  You have earned our trust to help us all embrace our messy, beautiful lives.  

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Dr. Melissa Miller

Melissa’s biggest problem when it comes to entertainment is wearing out what she loves. Movies like Bridesmaids and every episode of The Mindy Project, have been played hundreds of times in her house as background entertainment and never fail to produce a laugh. If a song strikes her, she will instantly download it and proceed to only listen to that song until it loses its sparkle. She thinks going to the movie theater is a huge treat, but is hoping someone can figure out how to make the popcorn taste as good as it smells. As a teenager, she loved scary movies, but now that she has kids of her own she gets very excited to have an excuse to see all the kids movies without embarrassment.

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