I had the best talk with my 9 year old daughter the other night. I mean, really, great stuff.
She was having a friend issue and upset with how she was being treated. So we talked about the fact that she was imperfect and that she was going to do and say things out of impatience that frustrate people at times (a trait she inherited from her father) and in turn not everyone will always want to be around her (okay fine, from me too). But more importantly, I wanted her to understand that no one has the power to make us feel bad unless we own what they say.
For example, if someone tells me I’m smelly, I may step back and question my cleanliness? Did I shower today? Am I using deodorant? If I smell nothing unusual and unpleasant, I may decide, no, I am not smelly. I reject the statement and it is not mine to own.
However, if I sense that maybe I do smell and I never noticed it before and really, I must smell because why else would someone say it if it wasn’t true, then I would own the comment, regardless of whether it was factual or not. It becomes real and mine and potentially very upsetting. I mean clearly, no one wants to think they are the smelly one.
I am only the smelly one if I believe I am. Even if in reality, I know I smell good (which is actually true by the way) I may question myself if someone calls me out. The question I may ask is “why are they calling me out?” or “what am doing to have someone respond to me in this way?” and if it’s an effort to hurt me, I get to make that decision if it happens or not.
If someone doesn’t want to be around me because they think I’m smelly, I don’t have any control over that. I also don’t have any control over their words or feelings or who else they tell. But I do have control over how I respond to their perception, their words and how or if I ingest them. If I reject them, they are not mine.
And then she reminded me of the quote “I’m rubber and you’re glue. Whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you.”
Seriously, though, I was on a roll. It was awesome. And just as I thought she was going to tell me that my words of wisdom were just what she needed, she said “You should really record this Mommy. It would make a good CD to put kids to sleep.”
Hmmm….I choose to take that as a compliment.