Monday, January 13, 2014

Pull Ups

Standing in line with a child is often stressful.  They don't want to be there, and they do lots of things to show that displeasure, such as grabbing candy off the shelves or screaming.  Zane has reached the age where he has more patience for standing in line.  He passes the time by looking around him and asking questions.  Lots. Of. Questions.  I don't mind his questions, because what else is there to do while you're standing in line?

The other day we were in line at Walgreens when two people in front of us began a conversation in Spanish.  There is a large Hispanic population in this part of Texas, and not everyone is able to speak English.  These sorts of conversations happen so often around me that I don't even notice anymore.  I tend to tune them out. My son hasn't had quite enough exposure to the world. 

"Mama, what are those people saying?" he asked.

"I don't know, son." I had to answer.  "They are speaking Spanish, which is another language."

"Why don't you speak Spanish?" Zane seemed completely flabbergasted by the idea that his mother might not know everything.  

"Because I am not smart enough to learn another language," I responded absentmindedly. I was thinking about the next errand on my to-do list, and that was when a voice startled me.

"Don't ever say that you're not smart enough!"  I turned to find the woman behind us in line giving me a hard look. She looked very stern. "You're smart enough to do anything that you want to do."

She was bigger than me, and I wasn't sure what would happen if I disagreed.  So I smiled, nodded, and said that I agreed with her. Thankfully, it was our turn to pay at the register.

But I thought very hard about what she said for the rest of the day.

If someone told me that I wasn't good enough or smart enough, my shields would go up faster than Captain Kirk could say 'Red Alert'.  I would be angry.  I would be right up in someone's face if they said I wasn't smart enough, glaring and belligerent, and tell them what they could do with their insults and put downs. I would under no circumstances put up with such rude behavior.

So why do I put up with it from myself?  Why do I make self-deprecating remarks all the time?  Thinking about it, I make at least one such statement a day, if not more.  Why?  To put people at ease?  To make people think that I'm not as scary as they've heard?

It's not just me; I hear woman saying bad things about themselves every day. It's as though we've been conditioned to put ourselves down, and maybe we have been.  Pay a woman a compliment, and nine times out of ten, she will argue with you about it, downplaying her skills and her accomplishments.  Oh, this is nothing, she'll say.

Women get rewarded for behaving that way, so they think it's acceptable. It's supposed to show that you're  humble?  You never hear men putting themselves down.  Why is that?  It's time to cultivate a new habit. Instead of putting myself down, I will pull myself up.  As soon as I hear something negative coming out of my mouth, I will turn it into something positive. Maybe after I hear it a few times, I'll start to believe it.  Because it is true:

I am smart enough to do anything that I want to do.

24 comments:

  1. Yes. I am my own worst critic. Negativity that I absolutely would not tolerate from anyone else swirls in my mind all the time about how I'm "too" this or "not enough" that.

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  2. It doesn't get any better with age either. I will hear myself and now I will try to change. My mother would tell me not to get too puffed up when I was a kid. I think that is where it started.

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    1. My mom used to tell me the same thing. I wonder if we are just the next stage in the cycle...

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  3. I do the exact same thing. Even worse... I know I do this, I try and change and yet still... I underplay everything I do well.

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    1. And you do so many things well, Juli! We need to work on our self-talk skills.

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  4. Here, here! (and I might've been as surprised as Zane that you didn't know everything) ;)

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    1. I'm just really good at covering up my ignorance!

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  5. How great that that stranger was willing to speak up. Not only were you hurting yourself, you were doing it in front of your son.
    Of course, I can say it to other people, but will I remember that stranger's advice myself?

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    1. What is sad is that it took a stranger to even make me think about what I was saying!

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  6. Great thinking! Best to model the behavior you want your children to emulate. It's hard, though. Good for you!

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    1. I am a work in progress. Thanks for reading!

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  7. I use a lot of self-effacing comedy. I'm almost positive that comes from being overweight, and I use it as a defense mechanism. If I can get them laughing WITH me, then they won't be laughing AT me. But I always remember the line from the movie The Great Debaters: "Would you punch yourself in a street fight?"

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    1. As an overweight person, I do the same exact thing. I guess that it looks different from someone else's perspective.

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  8. Negative self-talk is definitely a hard habit to break!

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    1. It's definitely not easy to break a life long habit. Thanks for reading.

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  9. I do that too - talk down to myself. I'm trying to break old patterns, though. Glad you thought about it and realized you should be nicer to yourself. :)

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it.

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  10. I do the exact same thing, and I'm going to take your advice and try to stop. When I catch myself doing it, I have to stop or immediately pants myself. That oughta do it.

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    1. That's a hilarious picture that will help me remember to pull up always!

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  11. What a kind stranger. And good for you for turning it around!

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    1. Trying to, anyway. Thanks for reading!

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  12. It's refreshing to read a post where someone doesn't spit (virtually or literally) at someone making an unsolicited comment in line at the grocery store. And she's right! Don't ever say you're not smart enough! #StuartSmalley

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    1. I'm generally nice to people in line, because you never know who is packing in these parts. Just kidding! Thanks for reading!

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