Are you ready for my next soul searching discovery?
You might not like what I’ve discovered.
Or maybe you will.
I guess it depends on how you look at it.
Anyway, here is my very HUGE a-ha moment.
You know all those people in your life who have said really shitty things that are mean and hurtful?
The people who have really hurt your feelings?
The ones who have been super nasty to you and made you feel terrible about yourself?
They didn’t make you feel terrible about yourself.
I told you you might not like this one.
But if you look at it through the lens of this being a very empowering realization, maybe that will change your perspective.
I have been doing a lot of thinking about this, especially with respect to my girls.
Because being a girl can be tough.
Especially those middle school years.
And I want to teach all my kids that nothing anyone says means ANYTHING until they attach a thought to it.
Look at it this way.
Take, for instance, cilantro. Or coriander, as some of you may refer to it.
There are people who love cilantro.
I would be one of those people.
I LOVE CILANTRO.
I can’t imagine NOT liking it!
But then there are the people who can’t stand cilantro and think it tastes like soap.
The exact same cilantro that I love they can’t stand!
There is nothing wrong with the cilantro.
It’s just that some people like it and some people don’t.
It’s not the cilantro’s fault.
It has nothing to do with the cilantro.
It has to do with the person and what they think about the cilantro.
So let’s take today for example.
It was a beautiful first day of spring here in CT.
The sun was shining and all the snow was almost completely melted.
It was a great morning to wake up to.
I woke up feeling happy and optimistic.
So did the kids.
Let’s say Number 4 woke up and put on an outfit that she really loves. She felt great in it. She headed off to school feeling cute and put together and confident and super happy on a sunny spring day.
And then imagine she walks into school and one of her friends says, “OMG, I love your outfit!!!”
Then imagine she turns the corner, and another girl says to her, “OMG, that outfit is so cringe.”
Two different people commenting on the exact same outfit on the exact same person on the exact same morning.
These two different reactions to the outfit have nothing to do with the outfit or with Number 4.
Because if they did have to do with the outfit or with Number 4, the reactions would be exactly the same.
The reactions have to do with the people making the comments and their thoughts about the outfit.
Now imagine if we were able to teach our children differently.
What if we stopped encouraging our children to feel bad because of something another person said. What if we stopped teaching them that other people were in control of their feelings?
What if we taught our kids that the things that other people say have absolutely nothing to do with them?
What if we taught our kids that they control their thoughts about themselves?
What if we gave them the cilantro example?
What if when someone said something shitty to our kids instead of seeking out the other kid, instead of approaching the parents — because then we are teaching our kids that other people are in control of their thoughts about themselves — what if we told them that’s just one of those people who thinks cilantro tastes like soap?
What if we empowered our kids with this information and what if we practiced it with them?
What if rather than immediately contacting the principal when a girl is ruthless to our girls, we first work with our girls? We practice helping them manage their thoughts.
The first person we’d have to start with though is…
Nobody controls our thoughts or our actions.
And we don’t control anyone else’s!
We cannot turn a cilantro hater into a cilantro lover!
Be we can accept that for whatever reason, some people love cilantro and some people just. Don’t.
It’s not the cilantro’s fault.
You can try to keep serving cilantro to people who can’t stand it, or you can accept that they just don’t like it.
And then find the people who do.
Of course, there is a way to kindly express that you don’t care for cilantro.
This happened very recently with Number 4.
Over the weekend one girl in particular said some stuff to her that was particularly hurtful.
Number 4 was in tears.
I felt bad for her.
My immediate first thought was, “I need to tell her coach. He needs to have a meeting and sit down with the girls. He needs to address this with them and teach them how to be kind to each other.”
And then I snapped out of it.
Because I am not teaching Number 4 that someone else in in charge of how she feels about herself, goddammit.
What someone else says to her, and the way in which they say it is NOT about Number 4.
It’s about the other girl.
So we have been working on managing thoughts and managing our reactions to situations.
BOTH OF US.
And together, we are both just gonna keep on looking for the cilantro lovers.
The cilantro haters?
Well, when some people eat something they don’t like they gag and sputter and make a big scene.
Then there are those people who discreetly place their food into a napkin and throw it away.
And I guess I’ll just have to keep a few extra napkins in my purse from now on.