The Skinny – Amy Brunell

This Feels Bad…

A member wrote a scathing letter about me to WW. This member was very angry at me and accused me of shaming them. Now there’s more to the story than that, but let’s just say that the idea of shaming someone is so totally out of my nature. I don’t even think that way-not even to my kids.

I call these moments “green hair” times. It’s when you are accused of something so completely foreign than who you are or in my case, who you intend to be, that it’s like they’re yelling at you about your green hair. Well you don’t have green hair, so what the heck are they talking about?

The problem is for many of us, when we receive criticism there is a place deep inside that takes it in and believes that “yes, I guess I have green hair.” And that is why we either respond in anger or we respond by eating, sleeping, exercising, or something else that gives us the relief from our pain.

I am in pain. Don’t get me wrong-that’s why I’m writing. No one likes to be accused of something. What I want to do is write this person back and say, “You have accused me and it’s not okay!” And this particular accusation is so difficult. Frankly, when I get quiet and feel it, I’m very sad. The fact is I can’t do anything to rectify whatever part I played in the misunderstanding. There isn’t an avenue currently revealed, for me to communicate and begin a healing process. It doesn’t matter ultimately that this person misunderstood me as much as it matters that some sort of healing process could begin.

The act of accusation is a sort of violence put upon another. It is different than opening a line for communication to heal goings on between one person and another. To accuse means that the accuser has sort of made up their mind already about what the situation was, and therefore what the outcome will be on some level. “You did this and therefore I have a right to do (feel, say, think) that.” When we come upon a situation with the intent to heal, then we can say, “I observed this, and felt that.” Then the other can say, “I observed that, and felt this.” and the healing can begin. That doesn’t mean that the situation will be rectified, but hopefully communication starts and therefore forgiveness can tiptoe in.

To think that our interpretations have the “ultimate” meaning or truth is dangerous. And my sincerest hope is that my member reads this blog and gives me a chance to apologize for whatever pain was caused. I earnestly pray that whether or not I am part of the process, that this person can eventually forgive me and find peace.

The Actors' Gang


  1. Sorry this happened to you! I’ve only been coming to your meetings for a short time but already can’t imagine how someone could have so grossly misinterpreted your words. My guess is that person was likely already grappling with shame for whatever reason, and blaming you for it was easier than looking within and dealing with the real source. After all, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent”, right?

  2. Amy,
    Wow…I was looking for you … or an email…but look I found you.
    I came across this post today that I thought was appropriate.

    Hearing criticism and knowing what it is – valid, invalid, hurtful
    or just knowing that someone needs to reveal that they feel shamed.
    It is tricky being a coach to a variety of people and knowing how
    anyone might react.

    But here’s the reading from today

    Attitude is everything!

    Today will be what we make it. Regardless of the weather, the kinds of work to be done, the personalities crossing our paths, we’ll feel joy and peace if that is our choice.

    Agonizing over circumstances that aren’t to our liking or dwelling on our failure to control other people, whether friends or foes, has robbed us of the happiness that is always ours to experience. Depression, anger, fear, and frustration shadowed our steps because we didn’t take control of the only thing that’s ever been in our control absolutely – attitude.

    It’s so easy to blame others for every wrinkle in our lives. But as we grow accustomed to the idea of taking full responsibility for how we think and feel, we’ll be empowered. No longer will our sense of self feel diminished. And, as Abraham Lincoln is credited with saying, we will be just as happy as we make up our minds to be.

    Nobody can mess with my attitude but me!

  3. Thanks. This is helpful for an issue I’m having with my sister. I’m sending her a copy because you say it so well

  4. Yow! part of the risk of putting yourself out there to help people inevitably exposes you to to a small percentage of “random crazy”- that’s what my friends and I, who deal with the public every day, call the occasional personal interchange gone awry. Its actually a testament to you that it was unusual! People misinterpret and react to just about anything on any given day, and it’s mostly nothing at all to do with you!
    I go to your meetings every week, and I have never met anyone as open, loving, caring and honest about helping us through our difficulties, weight related and beyond.
    I hope you will remember that the vast majority, the 99.999 percent of us are in your corner, understand and appreciate all that you do for us! You are worth above and beyond what they pay you,…and would happily write a letter to WW stating just that! (Just give us an email and a name!)
    Thanks Amy!

  5. Really helpful for one of my recent experiences. A few people in a group that I belong to started “flaming” me on line and so that many others could read it. They called me things that are “green hair” material, like “racist,” “loser,” “not important,” “obnoxious,” and even “sinner.” (It’s not a religious group.) I am stepping away from this group for a while to let all of us cool down if that’s possible.

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