Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Work Hard and Be Nice (to Yourself)

Work Hard and Be Nice (to Yourself)

I was speaking to a beloved family member recently.  We were discussing self-critical talk of the out-loud variety.   I shared that growing up it was never anything that my mother or father said directly TO me that hurt as much as hearing them berate themselves.   Both of my parents are incredibly accomplished, driven and involved.  They asked a lot of themselves which was a great example for us.  So, I'm assuming that the self-critical talk was part of their motivating methodology. I think I started to copy the model they used on themselves much more than use what they were saying directly to me.  Interesting to own that out loud now that I'm a parent.

This beloved family member (I'm lucky to have no other sort) said that her girls recoil in visible pain when she does the same to herself--calls herself stupid or something along those lines--in front of them.  

I have reflected on this conversation for the past week or so.

Why is it that when we call ourselves something horrible (like fat or stupid or lazy--and don't lie to me, I've heard just about everybody say something along these lines to themselves) it has a profoundly negative effect on others?   Maybe 'why?' isn't the right question.  Maybe the right question is 'why don't you just stop that shit right now?!'  'Drop the knife,' as Hafiz says.  Stop turning it on yourself.  Because let's face it,  there is no such thing as 'he's only hurting himself.'

If you can't be nice to you for your own sake, be nice to you for the entire rest of the 7 billion people on the planet's sake.  I posted this yesterday: "Tug on anything at all and you'll find it connected to everything else in the universe." -- John Muir

My Dad used to have this little wooden box with a hinge on it.  The top of it had the words "The Secret to Success" and "open" on it.  When you opened the box it just said "Hard Work!"  The photo above is something that I bought at the hardware store a couple of weeks ago.   I'm always trying to distill wisdom into phrases or sentences that I can easily repeat to myself. Of course, I never remember them because I can't imagine needing to write them down, they're so wise and all, that, like who could ever forget them?  Anyway, I found this little nugget.  It's a variation on my Dad's little success box with 2 caveats.  I like it a lot.

I'm reprinting this excerpt from Hafiz thanks to Heather Kopp at

Once a young woman asked Hafiz, “What is the sign of someone knowing God?” Hafiz remained silent for a few moments and looked deep into the young person’s eyes, then said, “Dear, they have dropped the knife. They have dropped the cruel knife most so often use upon their tender self and others.” (Ladinsky)





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