“What we think, we become” – Buddha
When I opened the refrigerator and saw the sugar bowl sitting on the top shelf “Ugh! Stupid arse!” immediately came to mind – quickly followed by “Let it go.”
My husband often misplaces or puts things back in the wrong spot. When I came across misplaced items I used to think “stupid arse.”
The term “stupid arse” was my Mom’s favorite adjective: she would mutter it under her breath when she made a mistake or if my Dad misplaced something. It was never intended it to be derogatory.
I love my husband and he is far from being stupid. It didn’t bother me the sugar was in the refrigerator (we all make mistakes) but it was the thought I had afterward that left me unsettled: I imagined what it would be like if my son was married and his wife thought “stupid arse” each time he made a mistake. I hated the idea that someone who loved him would have negative thoughts about him.
I felt horrible about calling my husband a name (albeit, under my breath). I didn’t want to think of my husband as a stupid arse – or become one. I felt bad knowing that negative thoughts or comments could easily be misconstrued.
We are a Scouting family. My older son is working on his Eagle Scout rank and my younger son cares more about camping trips than earning merit badges and ranking up; he is advancing at a pace that is right for him and he is content. As the second born, he is in the shadow of his brother and despite doing our best not to compare the two, others often do.
A few months ago, one of the Scout leaders said to my son (in front of me): “It’s not a big deal if you don’t become an Eagle Scout.” This was not the first time this leader made that comment him. It was disappointing to hear a leader make a statement that was deflating and implied that he was not trying hard enough to rank up or taking Scouting seriously.
Regardless of intentions, comments can easily be misinterpreted (especially if you’re a 12-year old) and those comments could result in a self-fulfilling prophecy.
I think back to my younger son’s 5th-grade year and the comments that his teacher said to him, comments which he may have misunderstood. The school year ended with him thinking he was a bad student and with me feeling like a failure as his mother. I can easily see now that he is a bright kid, a spirited child, and a tween that can behave like a you-know-what.
What would it be to stop and think “Would I say this to my own child? Would I say this to my spouse?” when negative thoughts or comments come to mind? How different the outcome could be.
While we cannot control what people think or say, we can, however, control how we respond.
In the meantime, my suggestion to my younger son is “Prove them wrong” and knowing him: he will.