If you don’t respect yourself, who will?

Like most mothers, mine taught me a variety of lessons, some of them contradictory, many she didn’t follow herself. But one message that she was consistent with is “Don’t worry so much about what other people think. Speak your mind. Be yourself.”

While I agree that it is often necessary to bite your tongue rather than saying something spiteful (you should hear some of the things I DON”T say!), I also agree with my mom that, when asked your opinion, you should give your HONEST opinon.

We all know people who think it’s rude to tell you anything negative. I would rather someone tell me the truth instead of telling me to my face, “Oh, I love what you did there!” and then whispering to everyone else that it was the dumbest thing you’ve ever seen.

“Gosh let’s not tell her what we really think! That would be rude! Let’s talk about her behind her back instead!”

It may be that you don’t like x, y, or z about me, and that’s OK. We’re not clones. If I know what it is that you disagree with, I might be able to explain to you why I have a different opinion. Or we can avoid those topics that we know we’ll never agree on. We don’t have to agree to understand each other’s viewpoints.¬†Or you could just explain why you are superior to me. Given the proper argument, I might actually agree with you.

When my sons, Alex and Jacob, were about 8 and 3 years old, Alex, the oldest, came to me crying. I mean really, really sobbing, as if he’d skinned a knee or something. When I asked him what was wrong, he said, “Jacob hurt my feelings!” I had never, ever, said anything to them about hurting each other’s feelings. I said, shocked, “Are you kidding me? You’re crying because he “hurt your feelings”?! What kind of crap is that? Who taught you that?” He said that Jacob called him stupid, “and the teacher said not to call people stupid because you’ll hurt their feelings.”
I asked him, “Do you think you’re stupid?”
He said, “No!”
“Do you think Jacob calling you stupid will MAKE you stupid?”
He yelled, “NO!”
“Then how exactly did he hurt you?”
He couldn’t answer that one.

Now I know there is a difference between deliberatly bullying someone, and some little kid saying, “That’s stupid.” In this case, it was just a little brother getting picked on and lashing out at his big brother in the one way that he knew would hurt him: by calling him stupid. Alex needed to learn to not let things like that get to him. When I had a little brother, I learned that when I stopped letting his comments get to me, he stopped making them.

Another thing my mother told me: there will always be someone who is prettier/ uglier, smarter/dumber, taller/shorter, fatter/thinner, better dressed/ sloppier, wealthier/poorer, better/worse husband, better/worse house, better/worse car, better/worse job … you get the idea. So just be the best you that you want to be and stop comparing yourself to people who you think are better than you.

It really is not important what anyone but you thinks of you. If the people who love you think you could use improvement in some areas, it wouldn’t hurt to listen to their suggestions. Or if they say “we love you just the way you are,” but you want to make some changes, then make the changes. If you’re not happy with yourself, then work on that. But don’t do it just because someone else says you need to or to attain some arbitrary measuring point set by society. Even if your little brother thinks you’re stupid.