I have a neurotic dog. She’s actually very sweet and docile at home, but proceeds to be the very most unfriendly dog on the planet when we leave the house. She barks. She snaps. I think that’s a dachshund thing. Very territorial. I tried to socialize her, bring her to dog parks, but everytime, bark bark bark. And then sit in my lap the entire time. Somehow, in all of MY neurosis, I thought that was a reflection on me. I didn’t have the Perfect dog; you know, the one where everyone from miles around would flock and say – oh, she has the most perfect dog, she must be lovely too.
I’m sure you can see where I might be heading with this.
I recall doing the same thing in school. I felt that I had a rather ecclectic house – we were sophisticated, hippies really. Naturopath vagabonds. Moving from school to school. Very herbal and vitamin oriented. Now, of course, herbs and holistic medicine is “cool” – but not when I was growing up. In fact, when you’re growing up, your family and home are almost more of your identity than your actual identity.
Because we get caught in the illusion that the identity of other’s is our own.
As a parent, I can tell you that there have been so many times when I realized I was upset not because of anything that really had anything to do with me, but because I FELT that it was about me. Bad grade = I’m a bad parent. Messy room = bad parent. Worst-dirty-look-as-only-children-can give = Bad, really, really, bad parent.
Mr Bird gifted me with Ruiz’s “The Four Agreements” in February. I read it on my flight to Zurich. Can you guess what one of the agreements is? Yep. Take NOTHING personally. It’s not about you. It’s about them. And if you make it about you, then not only do you do yourself unneccessary harm, you’re not helping other’s either. Whether someone is nice or not, is entirely their perception, their past experiences, their hurts, their wants. Any value you have, has nothing to do with the perception of others. Wow, deep breath. Doesn’t that just feel better?
This thinking, in practice, has brought more peace to my heart than any other thought process I’ve encountered. Especially as a parent. Instead of feeling scorn from teachers, and feeling sorry for myself when a bad grade occurs, I ask, How can I help? When a dirty look is given, or a tantrum occurs, I give a big hug, kiss the forehead and say, I love you. I think that’s probably all I would have wanted as a child. Just a hug, some understanding, and an I love you.
And while we’re at it, let’s just not get bothered by grumpy people outside of our friends and families either. That REALLY has nothing to do with you. Just breathe, smile, let it go, and maybe even, send them Light, they obviously could use a bit of kindness. I think that will teach our children, and future generations a lot; we don’t want them taking things personally later in life either.