What is dogma and how is it effecting your life in the wellness world?
You might not think that dogma has anything to do with your life because you are not religious or consider yourself “Spiritual”. But Dogma is an important and noteworthy part of human life, most of all now and in the constantly growing influence and wellness culture.
Dogma is defined as a principle or set of principles laid down by an authority as incontrovertibly true.
Many people think of dogma as a something to do with religion, theology or in Cults. But this can really apply to so many things. It applies to the wellness culture, to influence’s, to pyramid businesses, MLM, to cooperate culture. In many of these things, they are apparent. The dogma is obvious. But the truth is that when we apply life style to beliefs and set out to get to an ideal through a specific set of beliefs. This is huge in the wellness world and with all of the talk about F-factor and just ab out every other diet out there, it seems like we should take a moment to be able to identify just when you are getting to an unhealthy sort of diet or wellness dogma.
The fact of the matter is this. The wellness world has long been focused on the thin. Being thin is still the preferred state and seen as healthy even though more and more we are finding it not to be. Disordered eating is on the rise and mortality rates for eating disorders are second only to opioid addiction when it comes to mental health deaths in the US. How does this even start!? Well it starts young. Very young. Distrubingly young and preys on those that are in their most vulnerable times promising them something more important to them even then thinness. After all, Thinness isn ‘t the goal. The goal is the perception of success that comes with it. How do we rope people into t his world? One disgusting word, one we all use, lifestyle . You aren’t selling a diet or wellness. You’re selling your car, your husband, your pent house, your desperate real house wives dream…and it can have staggeringly dangerous consequences. Eating disorders, sickness, kidney failure, exposure to toxic products including foods but also oils, facials, body modification, you get the idea, can all fall into the “wellness world”.
Things in the wellness world that have been known to use these methods?:
- Gyms/ studios
- Essential oils
- Bee venom treatments
- Wellness retreats
- Yoga ‘cults’ (Think Bikrim)
- Self improvement/ success groups (NIXIM anyone?)
- Sororities/ Frats
Dogma makes a huge difference here because, like we said before…its selling a dream, the idea of a better you and that belief can be used in so many dangerous ways. Of course, one or two of these might not be concerning and might be a coincidence but more then two and you might want to take a closet look.
So what are some ways to recognize when dogma is being used to manipulate the consumer?
One: There is a charismatic leader.
This one is such a favorite and such an easy way to spot that Dogma is being used to find an audience. Like Moses of Jesus, this leader will have to over come something tragic and fateful. Something like a medical diagnoses or results of a car accident are easy ones that I have spotted ( Young Living, F Factor….Jonestown. You know the basics). The key here is that they arent just selling you a product. They are selling you their lives. If you buy their product you too can heal from your ailment, live their lives, have the home and the world that they have. These leaders like themselves…a lot and will often appear perfect, even selfless but often this is derived from a need to affirmation and attention that is common with narcist. Recently this has become a bit harder to identify because since the arrival of social media, there has been an increase and the acceptance of making yourself a brand. Just like in the intro to this though, not everyone uses themselves to sell their own product.
Two: There are no Professionals
This can apply to medical professionals, trainers or really anything in the field that you are looking at. For example if there are no Registered dietitian’s in a diet program and instead they have ‘coaches’ this is a huge one. There is always almost an air of information when it comes to certain programs. Most of the time this is the fact that the coach’s have done the program as well. But this is subjective and is again, selling you a life, a belief, and/or a testimonial instead of objective information. Yes there are certifications that you can get but that is an entirely different thing then a registered dietitian and in good conscious, this should be disclosed to you. Even with coaches, there should be someone that has a bachelors, preferably more then one, that can back up a program.
Three: They identify something that you need to change…and they can help
They being the leader, the coach or anything else. Often these kinds of programs search out people who have body issues or are at certain points of their life where they might be more vulnerable, b e it after a divorce, in someone’s early 20s late teens, post pregnancy or even ones that have a medical issue. They use targeted advertising, including tags to find people who they can bring in by identifying an insecurity such as not ideal body type/ weight or groups of certain medical conditions. They identify the ‘problem’ and have the magic fix which will often circumvent traditional methods but give testimonials from members or ‘people just like you’. Not only does this create commeroderey but excuses anything that might seem…hinky by creating a community.
Four: Group Insulation
For many of these groups, it seems natural that the people in them would grow close. People tend to share hobbies, interests and most of the time even socioeconomic class. All things that honestly form a lot of friendships. Its when these groups start isolating that this can become a problem. There is no problem with a recovery group…in fact for a lot of things they are necessary, but sometimes this can take a step farther and not let people out, feeding off trauma just like interests. Other times with things like diet programs, social isolation happens as a result of disordered eating or having to stick to a very strict schedule which other people ‘don’t get’. In MLM’s (Which I will discuss at the end of this because it should have its own article) this can include converting your friend group and using them as a source of your own income/ selling…obviously something that some people will find annoying, further isolating group members.
Five: It’s a Life Style
If you have to do something forever…it might be worth considering putting a bit more thought into it and a bit more cross disciplinary research. This can relate to anything that might be considered ‘medical’ including essential oils (Particularly with ingestion), diet or medical treatments (Bee sting treatment and those like it). If you have to do it forever, it is going to effect your body. Why not talk to a few medical professionals first about it. If they tell you its good? No harm and you have that peace of mind. If you tell them you have to eat under 1000 calories a day for a year, they are going to tell you hell no, you know and have saved your kidney’s. I was listening to a man that ran a treatment center for water fasts and he said that he didn’t trust doctors because they couldn’t cure cancer…noted but a 28 day water fast without medical supervision? Well it might cure you because you might be dead. Wellness programs that have good data and sources will not mind you talking to your doctor about it.
Six: This Works for Everyone
There is a reason why people go to different therapists to find which one works for them. It’s because no matter how good the approach, no matter how perfected, one specific response never works for every one. Its the same thing with diets, oils, training plans, meditations….everything in the wellness world. Humans are dynamic creatures. We still don’t have a full knowledge of the brain or of the body, no matter what people tell you. The people who put leeches on their body to cure ailments thought they knew ‘medicine’ too. We are in a constant state of discovery…the problem is that in our quest for the ultimate wellness routine, we forget that there actually isn’t one. If someone says they have found “The secret” (Yes another culty dogmatic wellness thing) then they are probably exhibiting one of these problems.
Seven: It’s an MLM
I shouldn’t have to say to much about this but if you find something is an MLM, which you can easily search, just run in the other direction. MLM’s pretty much have every warning sign above in them. They have a charismatic leader (Top of the pyramid), their coach’s are just people that were customers/ went through the program before and are often not trained, manipulate people in their own programs with promises of money, success and often outward body ideals. They make the MLM their lives and reject outward criticism or even questions. Ultimate, in my opinion an MLM can never be a healthy part of the wellness industry because it exists for one purpose: to funnel money using dogma.
If any of these things sound a bit…cultish to you, its because they are the same methods. Creating a community is really like creating a cult. The thin line is when members start to hurt/ harm themselves or others for the sake of the cause. The cause might be a whiter america…or it might be a diet. The procedure of manipulation is the same…and age old. The Real danger here is that of course people are seriously harmed physically and mentally by these programs. The second is that they spend way too much money and are financially harmed by these programs. Beware of the danger of wrapping your world up in a wellness dogma. It can steal from you.
Do your research, know what you are buying into with all of your good intensions and dont be afr5aid to say no or pull away from something that doesn’t serve you.