As a highly sensitive person I often have to check myself when I feel hurt by someone. Am I being oversensitive here? Are they even aware of their actions? I am quite practised now at evaluating whether someone is intentionally mean or cold in their behaviour. Often, thankfully, people don’t mean to be mean. They are having an off day; they didn’t notice me saying hi, that sort of thing. It’s cool, we all have days like that…
Sadly though, sometimes other adults are intentionally not nice. Cold, unfeeling, ignorant on purpose. They want you to feel bad, left out, unliked, uncomfortable.
There is a meme that does the rounds, which says something along the lines of ‘other people’s opinion of you is none of your business’. It’s a funny one, as in essence I agree with the sentiment, but it’s hard to accept that their actions are none of your business – when they are really impacting on you. What it’s saying really is that you have done nothing to deserve it; they are projecting something onto you that is nothing to do with you – their insecurities, their pain, their loneliness, their anger. It feeds them to offload their pain onto you. You are the sponge for their bad feeling. It’s not nice, but they chose you to give it to. You didn’t say it was OK though, so it’s fine for you to reject it. (But that’s a whole other blog post…)
What I wanted to write about today was the problem with it I have in terms of what we are teaching our kids by behaving like this.
I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, as I have experienced it first hand from a few people who I’ve met in a new environment. And for no apparent reason. As I mulled it over I felt very hurt. Then angry – how can they hold their head high knowing they made someone feel bad that day?
You know what really gets to me though? These people are parents. Their job in this world is to raise good humans. And by failing to be kind to others, they also fail their kids.
No amount of homemade organic chicken nuggets, piano lessons on a Saturday morning, extra bedtime story or special holiday memories will make up for the fact that if you model unkindness you are doing a shitty job at the number one thing that actually matters: how to be a good person.
Kids do not do what we tell them; they do what they see. You may think they don’t notice you shunning that person, ignoring their Good Mornings, or smiles, but they do. They really, really do. I have seen this with my own eyes.
If you want your kid to be kind – which is ALL that matters when raising children, then you must be kind to others too. Even when you don’t feel like it.
You learned to behave that way from someone. YOU saw your parent being unkind, and that is why you are unkind in turn.
The biggest gift you can give to your kid is to SHOW that you are kind to everyone. That you are the sort of person people want to be around, to give that job to, to invite over for coffee.
It does not matter one iota if you are winning in every other area of your life; if you’re being a dick to one person, you lose.
The next time you notice yourself about to be unkind, try doing the exact opposite. Be someone who made a person smile that day, instead of someone who made a person cry.
It’s the biggest gift: to that other person, to yourself, and most importantly to your child.