Names have been changed to protect the innocent...and my husband...and me...but not the dog. His name is Dexter.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Kindness Begins With Me

I've tried making resolutions a lot of different ways....themes, a certain number, no resolutions, 20 gazillion resolutions, and more.  I like resolutions.  Not because I think that on January 1st I can change my whole life.  Mostly just because I like making goals.  Even more, I like reaching my goals.  And then making more goals.  I am one goal oriented gal. 

One of the things that I haven't actually tried is picking a word for the year.  This is a popular concept in the blogosphere and there are a plethora of posts in January dedicated to theme words.  I've watched this trend the last few years with mild interest.  I like the concept of it.  Even thought about doing it.  But I never did.

Until this year. 


As I pondered upon my potential word for the year, I thought about what some of my other, unofficial, goals are right now to see if I could find a theme.  A word that would stand out as all encompassing of my goals.  As I thought and thought and thought some more, one thing did become obvious. 

I have a lot of things I want to do in life. I want to learn new things and try new things and become better at some things.  I want to be more organized so I can spend less time cleaning and more time being with my kids.  I want to carve out some time to see if my brain is still up inside my head or if it's just completely given up on me.  I want to knit.  And sew.  And get caught up on the girls scrapbooks...I'm about five years behind.  I want to read.  And try new recipes.  I want to paint and sketch again.  I want to become an awesome runner.  And a yoga teacher.  And I want to write.  And maybe even paint my nails.  And touch my toes.  And for the love of all that is holy, I want to finish this house that is under constant construction.  Honestly, the list keeps on going, but I think we all get the idea. 

And then my word became painfully obvious.  Nice.  Be nice! 

I'm a pretty nice person.  Sometimes a little too nice, which doesn't lead to good things.  But I really do think that niceness matter.  And I have SO many things that I want to do, it's not even reasonable to think I can do them all this year.  Or even in the next five years.  Especially the part about the house.  A lot of times, I set goals and when I struggle to meet them (or not meet them) I'm really hard on myself.  Looking at my very long list of things I want to do, I decided that the best thing I can do (for me, but also as an example to my girls) is to go a little easier on myself.  

Years ago I was chatting with someone about passive aggressive behavior.  She pointed out to me that, for some people (such as myself), the passive aggressive behavior is being passive towards others and internally aggressive, beating myself up for every little thing I do wrong or don't do as quickly/perfectly as I want to.  And I say beating figuratively, not literally.  I'm not a house elf.  (Yes, we have been listening to Harry Potter almost constantly.  Why do you ask?!)  

This is not an easy thing to do in a society like ours.  Even if you are not hard on yourself, there are plenty of people who will happily let you know how you don't measure up.  Perfection is expected and not even the tiniest bit attainable.  And heaven forbid your house not be clean when someone drops in unexpectedly or you get a wrinkle or have a bad hair day or forget to have the kids do their homework.  Unforgivable!!! 

And I think this is the sort of thing that comes and goes in phases.  Sometimes we are pretty impervious to others judgements, while other times we are just more fragile.  Personally, when I'm feeling more fragile, I tend to avoid people who are negative, whenever possible.  I have plenty of my own negative, thankyouverymuch, I don't need any extra.  And I think that's okay.  And if you don't think that's okay....well, that's okay too.  Just keep it to yourself.

I have two deep thoughts from two women in my neighborhood.  The first one is this....I'm not going to apologize for myself anymore.  Clearly, she's not referring to when we make mistakes or hurt some one's feelings.  It's all about our constant need to apologize just for being.  The one huge thing that has made it obvious to me that I need to work on this is that Lolly apologizes for everything (obviously excluding things that need apologies).  I didn't have to look too far to see where she picked up that particular habit.  And here's the other deep thought...I was talking parenting with another woman in my neighborhood (she's now a grandmother) and she commented about how you really should not judge others because there is just no way you can know what's going on in their life, leading to the situation you're judging.  It's easy to look at kids and feel superior if your child happens to be behaving well in that moment, but it's so much more complicated than that.  One child could be shy while the other struggles with ADHD.  It doesn't mean that one mom is better than the other.  The quiet child could be the playground bully while the ADHD child could be really kind, but struggling to manage their huge amounts of energy.  Personally, I'll take the nice, hyper child over the quiet bully any day.  And just because a child is talented scholastically, it doesn't mean that child is better than the child still struggling to learn their ABC's.  And frankly, the know-it-all child who tells everyone how much smarter he/she is than everyone else is annoying.  And who wants to be around that?!

Now, I am fully aware that this post has completely gone off in a random tangent.  Lady of Perpetual Chaos, blah blah blah.  We know to expect this.  But it all does connect in a magical, random way.

It's good to be nice.  Nice to those around us.  Nice to ourselves.  You will never regret being nice.  Okay, maybe there will be a rare occasion that you regret being nice to someone who makes you mad.  But you'll never have to apologize for being nice which goes along nicely with the first deep thought.

So my word/phrase this year is to be nice.  I can't tell my girls not to be too hard on themselves if I'm constantly criticizing myself and my own efforts.  As we all know, we can tell our children how to be, but they will be what they see.  And hopefully, after this year, they will see that you can work and struggle and fail and keep going and sometimes even succeed, all while showing yourself the same kindness you would show to others.  It's all part of the journey.            

1 comment:

Michelle said...

I have thought about this lately and this is something I could improve on. It is easy to gossip about your coworkers with other coworkers, or about your sister in law, or your crazy neighbor, etc...(did you hear what xxx did? How could she be so dumb?) Why is it easier to say something that isn't nice instead of just keeping you mouth shut? No one is perfect and like you said, you may not know what the situation is for the other person. So, this has been my goal too. It's a daily struggle sometimes! Good luck. :o)

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