… you take it back and meet yourself at 17
… what do you tell that 17-year-old that could change their whole life?
My first response ––
"Well, I could tell me, but would I listen?!!"
I probably wouldn't have much luck with the straight out advice, but would have to try some kind of anecdotal device, or a parable ––
The Changing of the "Bitch"
I friend of mine stopped by one day, she'd been to the post office just prior and had to wait in line forever. The woman clerking was in a most foul mood, sharp and cold of voice, and each patron that left her station walked away grumbling about it to the rest standing in line, "Watch out, she's a bitch"––so that each person that came to her next was well prepared and on their guard or in fighting mode.
What did my friend do when her turn came?
She said, "Oh dear, you are having a hard day, aren't you?" in her sweetest, motherly voice.
The clerk melted. All of the anger seemed to fall from her face, which then contorted to almost tears.
"I am having the worst headache I've ever experienced in my life; I don't know if I can take this much longer. There are two staff out today and I am the only one up front here." She sobbed a little.
My friend reached her hand over the counter and put it on her wrist and said, "I completely understand; I see that you are in real pain. Can I do anything for you?"
I can't really remember what the woman said to her, but I remember my friend telling me that her demeanor softened and she could hear behind her, as she left and the next person in line went up, the clerk speaking to them in a quiet, kind voice.
That was one of the most profound lessons of my life and, since then, I've created a little parable to pass the concept along to others.
Think of the most insane, cruel, terrible thing that someone has said to you. OK, don't think of it too long ... ;o7.
The truth is, that in most cases when someone hurls something horrible at you, it isn't really you they are hurling it at. The most despicable things that we do to each other come from a well of our own pain, gathered through life's trials.
I think of those moments as if the person is underneath a pile of bricks too huge for them to get themselves out of. They're throwing those bricks off of themselves –– and some of them are landing on you. It seems like they are throwing them at you, but they don't even see you, they are so far underneath that pile of bricks. You just happen to be close enough to get hit.
The solution is not to become angry with them for throwing those bricks, but to try to help that person remove their bricks –– to become an ally in freeing them from their pain. Yes, sometimes you have to walk away for a while, just to keep from getting a brick between the eyes (I'm not suggesting masochism here ... ;o7). The thing to hold in your mind is their well of pain as the prime motivator for bad actions and help them through it when they are calm enough to deal with it and not be the one to be adding more bricks to their pile.
When I think of all the things I've said or done, simply because I was hurt by someone, it makes me shudder. It was so unnecessary.
Yes, I do wish I had that lesson so much earlier in my life.