"A journalist visited a town famous for its rampant unhappiness to see if he could understand its origin. Walking down the street, he noticed a man ahead of him. Suddenly, a little man, no more than a few inches high, appeared and ran up the man's leg. He started sticking pins into the man and sewing things to him. Instantly, the man was covered by these tiny tailors, all sticking him with pins. He looked completely miserable as he shuffled off. The journalist saw this happen to one person after another, until he was ready to give up and go home. The town was completely infested with tiny tailors; no wonder everyone was unhappy. Then the journalist noticed one woman covered with tiny tailors who apparently said something, and the tiny tailors just melted away. The journalist ran over to her. 'What did you say to get free of them?!" he exclaimed. 'Oh,' she answered, 'It was nothing. I just told them I've decided to stop measuring myself.'” -- story attributed variously to Guy Finley and Max Lucado
Most of the time when we find ourselves anxious or unhappy, it's because we've been measuring ourselves and come up short. Judgement and criticism don't make anyone happy. Most of us are constantly comparing ourselves to an ideal in our minds of what we should be. Unfortunately, no live human can ever live up to an ideal.
What if you decided to stop measuring yourself? What if you just accepted yourself in all your imperfect glory, knowing that you'll keep growing, but you'll also wake up irritable some mornings, and forget something important at least once a week, and say exactly the wrong thing on a fairly regular basis? In other words, what if you decided that it was okay to be human, and greeted yourself with compassion instead of judgment most of the time?
For most of us, that would be a radical change, and it would lead to transformation. When we love and accept ourselves, we're more loving and forgiving with everyone else.
Let's take this a step further. What if you decided that your kids are okay precisely as they are, without you needing to perfect their table manners, make sure their clothes match, or insist they make their beds every morning?
Maybe you don't have to take them in a little here, or let them out a little there. Maybe you could spend 90% of your time saying YES! I LOVE YOU JUST THE WAY YOU ARE!
I understand that you might find 10% of your interactions focused on getting them to brush their teeth or taste their spinach or not hit their brother. But wouldn't that be a better ratio than what you're doing now?
You might even find that your child would change, once you make compassion, instead of judgment, your usual response. Maybe she'd relax a bit, and blossom into someone a bit happier and more cooperative.
Are you worried that he'll get lazy? That she'll stop trying? Consider that maybe what our children need more than anything else is for us to enjoy and
appreciate them for exactly who they are, right now. Maybe that's what helps them blossom.
Maybe most of their "misbehavior" is a plea for connection and support from you. Maybe even their inconvenient big feelings could be greeted with "Oh, Sweetie... I'm listening..... thank you for telling me how you're feeling about this." Maybe you can guide your child while at the same time offering understanding.
Imagine how liberated you'd feel. How much happier.
And no one in your house would ever need to feel they're coming up short again.