I’m glad to say there are more people in my networks defending Madonna than shaming her, and I stand with them in that I feel it’s insipid and inappropriate to blast a woman for exercising autonomy over her looks and essentially engaging a coping mechanism in an industry that made her feel unsafe to do otherwise.

And I really dislike making posts jumping on the bandwagon main character conversations of the day, because the repetitive chatter is usually a sensory nightmare for me and the last thing I want to do is amplify it.

But there’s a lesson here that’s relevant to my work and so I’m going to go ahead and say it:

In the early modules of The Re-Patterning Project we talk about a concept called The Law of Diminishing Returns.

The Law of Diminishing Returns states that “profits or benefits gained from something will represent a proportionally smaller gain as more money or energy is invested in it.” For example, a farmer might use fertilizer to increase a crop yield, and find that using more fertilizer leads to greater crops. But at some point, the cost of the additional fertilizer will outweigh the profit gained in the harvest, which means that using more fertilizer actually becomes counter to its original intention. At some point, more fertilizer will even poison the crops.

As another example, an alcoholic taking their first drink learns, “Taking a drink makes me feel good and do better at socializing,” but after a certain point, more alcohol definitely doesn’t help with either of those ends.

When we see someone like Madonna taking measures to make herself more attractive that end up going so far as to have the opposite effect on most people, and we feel the need to comment on it, I’d like us to invite ourselves to ask if what our real fear underneath it all is:

“I’m afraid of getting so caught up in doing what I’m doing that I won’t know when to stop – if someone who is so brilliant and talented in so many other ways can go too far in such an obvious and public fashion, I’m afraid I won’t be able to tell when I’m doing it either.”

Learning and integrating an understanding of the Law of Diminishing Returns is an important part of living consciously. We want to be able to understand when a strategy we’ve implemented ceases to be beneficial to us and even turns harmful. Most villains began as heroes who then took their causes too far, and most people acting destructively are just putting more speed on misguided strategies that they’re accustomed to working for them. All behavior is motivated.

As for Madonna, it’s unfair to her that she’s in an industry where she felt she wasn’t allowed to age naturally, nor apparently to make attempts to prevent it, and all this conversation is just proving her point to begin with. (There might be some reinforcing feedback loops at play here functionally, but the sexism and ageism is still real.)

But as for us, maybe what’s more constructive is to ask ourselves where we are afraid to admit that we’ve taken a strategy too far, because all this activation just points us back to our own shadow if we’re willing to look.

And that’s pretty much the only useful thing to say about this conversation imho.