Saturday, July 4, 2009

Think Before You Speak

When I was a little girl, and I might have done something "bad", my mother always used to tell me I was naughty. Oh, goodness, if I heard that word once, I heard it a hundred thousand times. I think all children are born innocent and are not inherently naughty, but they do manage to get themselves into trouble by being overly curious, or perhaps imitating what other children are doing. Or perhaps they haven't been taught the difference between right and wrong yet. I don't think my mother meant any harm by saying what she did, but as a child, it was imbedded in my brain. The word "naughty" rang in my ears for many years, and I grew up thinking I was a bad person. I have always felt that I did not deserve all the good things that other people have, and I often describe the feeling as being "outside the candy store, looking inside at everyone else". Inside my heart, I know I am not a bad person, but perhaps rather to the contrary, I might actually be a good person.

My father used to get very upset with my mother at times, and he would take me for a ride in the car and tell me I was very much like his sister Evelyn, whom everyone loved. It would make me feel better about myself -- for a while, anyway. But it has always been a struggle for me, because I know I don't treat people badly, and in my heart I am not "naughty" and I always have good intentions.

Over the past few months, and perhaps couple of years, I have observed some behaviors by other people -- good people -- that have laid me flat with their selfishness and insensitivity. I know they meant no harm, but I have seen people do and say things that I would never do -- things that would be incomprehensible to me. It has made me realize as well, that we are all only human. Sometimes people's behaviors are based on lack of knowledge, or misinformation, or perhaps a misunderstanding of how other people will be affected.

I was having a conversation today with my friend Russell about the theory of "six degrees of separation". It is an interesting theory, and it made me realize how closely we are all connected, and how much everyone's behavior can have repercussions on others. The smallest thing can have a huge effect, and I always try to consider how my behavior, my actions or my speech will affect the people around me. I'm not perfect, but I try very hard not to hurt other people. I think sometimes we have a tendency to be overly critical of ouselves, and maybe sometimes we can realize we're not so bad after all.

30 comments:

BeNC said...

When we were born, the first thing we did is CRY. By crying, is that considered naughty?

In contrast, I do believe what other religious individuals believe, that, perhaps... A person is born with sin, in other words, we are considered naughty ever since we were brought into this world!?

Kathy's Klothesline said...

Introspection is always hard to do. It is a good thing, though, because you then realize how your thoughts put into words can be damaging to others. Seeing yourself through someone else's eyes in a negative way can haunt you.

The Panorama said...

Such a nice post:) I just had a friend get angry with me because I was a bit late( for no fault of mine since the person who was going to drive me was late). She herself comes late and expects understanding but I get to hear a lot of critism about my behaviour...so really, I think everyone needs to be a little more understanding of each other. Nobody is perfect...we need to accept that and be more kind to each other with our words and actions.

TheChicGeek said...

Neat post, Jo. You are not naughty, you are beautiful and a joy to all who know you. Words are the most powerful tool we have and we need to use them wisely. A simple statement, whether good or bad, can make an impact on someone that lasts a lifetime. We must chose wisely.

It is so true that we are hardest on ourselves. It is quite a feat to learn how to treat ourselves well, listen to our inner voice and know that although the choice might not be right for someone else, it is right for us and we should follow our hearts.

Thanks for the nice post...gives me much to ponder :)

Have a Beautiful Weekend!

Country Girl said...

I can't imagine you being naughty. Inquisitive, yes. And that could be perceived as naughty by some people, I suppose. But it's not. You are lovely and compassionate. A kindred spirit, if I ever met one!

Cyth said...

Hi Jo,
I just want to say that I do not remember my mother ever telling me that I was naughty. But today, I can feel that inside me, and sometimes it is something very small that will trigger it in me. I couldn't tell you right now what my mom might have said , or maybe reacted, to make me take that it into my little girl heart and hold it even still. But still it is there , waiting to sneak up on me and clobber me once again.

I think to myself that some of us are particularly sensitive to to some of the subtler communications in human interactions, and we carry it heavily inside us. And others of us, well, not so much.

I receive daily a little "story" sent out by The Story People ( Brian Andreas-I think). One of them I printed out and taped to the fridge, just for those days when I feel like I've been that naughty ( translated:?unlovable) little girl. Let me quote, "Words of Comfort" ---- "There are days I drop words of comfort on myself like falling rain & remember it is enough to be taken care of by myself." It helps sometimes.

Give yourself a hug and have a wonerful day.

Book pusher said...

That was a great post. I think by being aware of the impact things, like what parents have said allows us to overcome some of the damage,(although I know the hurt may never go), and helps us stop from doing similar things. I think people do and say inconsiderate and hurtful things when they are just not thinking. Awareness is a great thing and thank you for the reminder.

Paula Slade said...

There is an enormous difference between "being naughty" and "doing something naughty." Children innocently fall in the latter category. We weren't born with a built-in instruction book with all the rules - time and understanding parents provide the rules that are important.

The Bug said...

Being with my 7 year old niece today I'm not sure "innocent" is the right word - she has a definite love of pushing adult buttons & does it VERY well. BUT, she's a delightful, beautiful, bright, agile, wonderful girl. I hope she hears those adjectives in her head when she grows up instead of "No!"

leilani said...

I think as an older human my purpose is to let younger people know the mistakes i made and HOW and WHY they they were wrong.This is one of the BIG mistakes I made. I realized one day my 3 children must think they are be baddest, dumbest kids on this planet just by what i have said to them . I was horrified. This is an amazing post Jo , so important and a MUST KNOW for all parents. Thank you Jo!

kenju said...

We have no idea where the ripples will stop when we throw a stone into a lake, and it is the same with our actions and words.

My mom used to tell me...."I should have known I couldn't make a silk purse out of a sow's ear." I don't think she knew how much that hurt me.

robert said...

Would like to thank you very much for this entry of yours.

Amelia said...

I dont ever remember being told I was naughty, but I do remember getting in trouble sometimes!

What a good post and perspective you shared with us all today.

C S said...

I hear you, Jo. For me, this is a lifelong quest, to believe in myself and not be my own worst critic.

We may not be perfect but I think we're both OK :)

Cheers and take care,
Carolyn

Thiea Arantxa said...

I did feel like you. My mother always told me that "I'm naughty", then I started to believe that I really am ever since. And unfortunately I still consider myself naughty until now, even though some people are still convincing me that I'm actually a good person.
XD

Lau said...

Great , sentimental and wonderful post!!!
Congratulations.
I´ll follow you.
Have a nice weekend!

Lilly said...

You are so right and I wish more people would take note.

I agree with Paula - the act and the person are separate. Oh I hate to think of things I may have said to my daughter when she was little - I may have to have this same conversation with her.

I know I carry things with me from childhood and its a battle I play out in my head from time to time too. something or other will trigger it. A healthy self esteem is the best gift we could give children.

A thoughtful post from a thoughtful person.

Lorna said...

Has someone hurt your feelings lately, Jo?????



~Lorna
____________________________________

pranksygang said...

You have taught me a good lesson Jo!! even though i think before i speak it hurts somebody! .. from now on i will think twice before i speak!

lovelyprism said...

I was never a naughty kid. I sometimes now enjoy doing things that might be a little naughty ;-)

the walking man said...

Be glad your parent didn't hit you upside the head and let you know in no uncertain terms that you were "too goddamn stupid to go to school"

I would have been grateful to be called naughty. On the other hand his remark had the unintended consequences of making me into the me I have become. Nothing.

Carl said...

Jo-
By all means give yourself a break. I admit to being programmed the same way. I don't remember being told I was bad, but had a fierce need to keep the peace and make people happy because somewhere inside I felt I was not good enough. This limitation many of us have also leads to one of the great human conditions which is to do more with the time we have here.

As far as the actions and deeds of others.... That is a tough one. Just as you have been programmed to feel one way about yourself and bring that to everything you do others have there own things they have been forced to reconcile and other times it is just plain insensitivity.
I like how Garrison Keilor closes his 'writer's almanac' show. Be kind to each other and do good work. We could all learn to live by that one.

Carl

Trish said...

Oh my goodness...this is the most insane thing....I got here through about six...yep...six other blogs...just browsing and then look what you posted and what I posted yesterday... Want to hear something else very 'strange'? I live in the same vicinity as you YET...I found you from browsing in India...interesting indeed.
http://trish-schemmelhos.blogspot.com/2009/07/six-steps.html

Marguerite said...

Being a parent is not easy and sometimes even exasperating. I think that we tend to learn parenting skills from our own parents, whether good or bad. I think that the parents of our generation (the old- school way of thinking) especially repeated this learned behavior.

Deb said...

Oh my gosh! Your post today really hit home with me. Whew!

Deb said...

I wasn't nearly finished with my comment when my quick nimbled finger hit the publish key! geezzz...

I can very much agree with your post today. Although I consider myself to be bitchy at times, I never, repeat never, would say the things out loud that my ex-best friend would release from her mouth. Our thoughts are not meant to be shared 100% of the time. Just because we all may be thinking it does not mean someone needs to verbally confirm.
I would never, never spill out insults or in some case, state the obvious. The truth hurts, right?
As for you, Jo, I would never, ever think of you as a naughty, negative, bad person. Just the opposite.
I think, there should be more people such as yourself in this world because this world would be such a better place.

larkspur said...

I realize this is blogland, but you seem A-OK to me!

Land of shimp said...

Jo, I think you are an absolutely lovely person, judging by the thoughts that run through your mind, and end up here. You think of others, you care about being decent and kind. I'm also sure you are right, your mother didn't mean any harm, but to a sensitive soul those remarks do sting, and remain. My mother used to say, "I can't stand the sight of you." She's Scottish, it was just something she'd heard growing up, she certainly didn't mean to make me feel worthless, but oh how I thought it must mean I was just monstrous to behold!

I think some people are born broken, but they are terribly rare. The old nature vs. nurture debate holds true for most of us though. My son was born with a sunny disposition, but even the smallest criticism hurts him so. Remembering my mother's phrasing, I've always tried to be aware of that, and be careful.

I think it was Gandhi that said, "Be the change you want to see in the world." None of us can be perfect, but we can try to be as mindful of our actions as we can be. We're all just trying, I suppose, but we could do with trying a bit harder from time to time.

Isn't it funny, though? I've known some wonderful human beings, and a few that simply were not wonderful. It was the wonderful people that worried whether or not they were good people. The ones that were decidedly not, seemingly never experienced that concern.

I guess people worry about that when they actually care about being good. Those that care seem more likely to actually achieve that goodness.

Kate Hanke said...

What a great post! It really made me think about raising my son now because I have been talking to parents (parent who I think are great at raising their kids) and their kids have physically attacked them. Is this inevitable? When I was really bad when I was growing up, my mom would call me a twerp. I hate that word more than anything to this day. It signified that she was outraged with me and what a pain I was to her.

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