Friday, April 20, 2012

Be Your Own Mother

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There have been several times over the past few months when I've found myself trying to avoid conflicts or confrontations with other people. As I've tried to figure out how to react I usually ask myself, What is the best way to handle this that will resolve the situation quickly and with the least amount of grief?

I don't know about you, but I have a hard time giving myself advice. It's easy to hear about the drama in other people's lives and think, Let it go. Don't be so sensitive. And then the drama comes knocking on your own door and you hike up your pants and think, Um, I don't think so. Somebody needs to let that person know that they are not going to get away with that. And the ball begins rolling in the wrong direction.

My parent's marriage and re-marriages have given me eight sisters. That's right, eight. And you cannot grow up surrounded by that much estrogen without finding yourself in the middle of some fierce battles. So, you'd think I would have learned by now to watch my mouth and keep my nose clean. You would think I'd be an expert at treading softly and reacting slowly. Yet I still find myself occasionally feeling irked, rubbed wrong, or simply opinionated in a way that generates conflict. Which regularly brings me back to the question, What is the best way to handle this situation quickly and with the least amount of grief?

As I was mulling over a situation a few weeks ago a second, more vital question suddenly popped in my mind: What would I tell my girls to do? 

I can't emphasize how much my perspective immediately shifted as I've tried to see the conflicts in my life through the lens of motherhood. It's easier for me to counsel my girls than anyone else in the world. I want what is best for them. I want their happiness more than my own. I want them to value kindness, loyalty and forgiveness above winning, feeling justified, or telling someone else "how it is." And I also want them to learn early on to ignore the petty things and focus on what's most important. So, why not extend that attitude to my own problems?

Even if you don't have children, I think the strategy is effective. Be your own mother. Be the wise, benevolent emperor of your own problems. Try to stand on a branch far above the mud of the conflict and determine what really matters before you react. And have a happier life.

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