For the most part, we all love our grandmas.
Even when our grandmothers say the “wrong” thing, criticize us unknowingly, and don’t seem to “get it,” we take a deep breath, and then we muster up the patience and understanding to help them understand. We don’t let our anger or frustration take over.
What if we did the same thing with the assholes in our lives?
I know that you are probably cringing right now, but I please hear me out.
Why do our grandmother’s act the way they do?
They don’t always realize what they are doing, and even if they did, they wouldn’t care because they are grandmas. It’s the exact same thing with the jerks in your life.
All of the challenging people in our lives are acting the way that they are for two main reasons.
Reason #1: They have been conditioned to do so. They are acting within their values, and it just happens that what they value and what we value don’t align.
Reason #2: They aren’t acting within their value system because they are acting from their subconscious defense mechanisms, which kick in in times of stress, insecurity, despair, hurt, etc.,. When our defense mechanisms takes over, it’s like some other person (a child perhaps?) temporarily takes over, and we lose sight of what really matters. Only the most mindful and self-aware of us even notice.
If reason #1 and #2 don’t fit, is it possible they could be an ass, plain and simple. They know what they are doing, why they are doing it, and they don’t give a shit who gets hurt in the process. (We love to believe that this is behind all of the difficult people in our lives, but it isn’t--it’s usually the first two.)
If you really want to turn things around with a challenging person in your life, I encourage you to start treating them like you would your grandma. We cannot influence people to change if we do not value them as a human being.
Here are a few ideas...
If you start to value others, like you value your grandma, I promise that your inner and outer environment will become a lot more peaceful.
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Courage. Compassion. Connection.
A couple of weeks ago, I was at my PEPS meeting and one of the other moms was talking about how she can’t put her son down anymore and expect to find him in the same place when she gets back. I responded with, “Totally, Anouk usually moves like 5 or 8 feet.”
What?? She doesn’t move at all. She can’t even roll over yet. Why did I just say that? I tried to back track. I had just completely lied, and for what?
As a new parent I am getting completely caught up in the Joneses. What other babies’ do, I want Anouk to do. When they talk about how much their baby sleeps, I talk about Anouk’s sleep (which is superb, by the way). When they talk about their toys, I go out and buy the same ones. And when they talk about things that Anouk doesn’t do yet, it seems that I have resorted to lying.
My husband and I were talking about it the other night and I was baffled by it. I really don’t understand why I lie to make my daughter look good.
It’s not really about her looking good, though, it’s about me looking good. If Anouk is doing something well, that is a reflection on me. And if Anouk isn’t doing something well, that is also a reflection on me, right? Not exactly. My husband pointed out a place in one of our parenting books, which says, “Parenting is not a race.”
I think that needs to be my new mantra.
The fact of the matter is that I have been comparing and racing my whole life. Way before I even became a parent, I was racing. Racing to be the top of the class. Racing to be popular. Racing to be skinny. Racing for the guy. Racing to compete. Racing to keep up with the Joneses.
No wonder I am tired…too much racing.
I wrote a blog post a while back titled, “Comparison is the Thief of Happiness.” Here it is again.
I can’t say that comparing is always wrong, though. Sometimes our comparisons spur us to grow, which is a good thing. We need to push ourselves to do new things, to stretch to new heights. Sometimes comparison helps us do that. More importantly, sometimes comparison allows us to see where there may be a real problem that needs to be handled by an expert.
We are in trouble, though, when we compare so that we can prove that we are better and someone else is worse. When comparison leaves us feeling jealous and resentful. When we compare and then forget our values (like “don’t lie”). When we compare and judge negatively. When we compare and it disconnects us from others. When we compare because we are in an imaginary race against the Joneses.
This reflection has led to two new commitments to myself:
1) Admit when I am racing.
2) Stop racing.
I just started taking an art journaling class that is being put on by Brene Brown in conjunction with Oprah. I don’t really consider myself to be much of an artist, but I love Brene Brown, so I figured I would give it a go. Plus, the two friends joining me for the course ARE very artistic. I figured I could learn from and be inspired by them.
Unfortunately, even before the course started, I had my doubts:
So what does Brene say during our very first video:
“Comparison is the THIEF of happiness.”
And with that, all my thoughts had to go out the window. The whole point of the class is to let go of who you think you are supposed to be, and accept who are. One of our first assignments was to write on our hand, “I am imperfect, and I am enough.” Then we had to hold our hand up next to our face and take a picture. It is our pledge for the course.
Is my art journal going to be pretty? Who defines pretty?
Is my art journal going to be as good as my friends? Who’s comparing?
Is my art journal going to suck? What does sucking mean anyway?
Is my art journal going to be artistic? Who and what defines art?
All my self-judgment and comparisons have to die, or my happiness will diminish and I wil resent the whole experience.
I can be an artist.
I can be messy.
I can fail.
I can be imperfect.
I can be enough.