Updated: May 22
How do other people's words affect you?
For me, this has been a struggle all my life. I naturally desire to please people, so much so, that I sacrifice my own principles in the process.
In this article I would like to share with you two personal stories about overcoming what other people say and ultimately what is at stake.
As a mother of three, I was desiring to attend a meeting. My husband was away on a deployment, and I found that no one I knew could watch them because we were all going to this same event. In my desire to go, I miscalculated when the actual time the event started. My children (all under the age of 4) and I arrived at the chapel. With fast food in tow, we hunkered down on the coach and munched away at our meals. I realized the church meeting room was empty.
I was an hour early.
I debated on whether or not to head back home. Bed time would be soon and I really really wanted to hear what was going to be shared.
As more people started arriving, I saw one person after another observe me and say nothing. My own inner voice grew hot upon my neck, “Kaitlyn they are looking at you, they are judging you, they are disapproving of you, they don’t care, they don’t understand, they cannot understand, have they forgotten what it is like to have children?”
I thought they were judging me and I judged them back for my own perceived judgements. It was truly a vicious cycle. So vicious that it ate at my insides and I had to leave the meeting early, in tears, because I felt entirely sick to my stomach that I was bugging everyone and that my children and I were unwelcomed. Which was entirely a fabrication I myself allowed because of my negative perception that I imposed upon others and that I myself had to face inorder to fully heal and not judge or blame.
Upon pondering what happened, I realized that I could have prepared better and I could also have embraced myself better. I worked through what triggers had come up and I gave myself grace and internal love.
And I let it go.
The next day, part two of this meeting was going on. I walked in and sat with my three children on the exact same pew that I had sat on the night before. I came better prepared both physically, with activities, and mentally, with a book in hand to take notes of the things that really stood out. My attitude was completely dependent on me.
The last experience I have to share with you is about being willing to voice your feelings in a way that will support the life you are trying to build.
Going out with three little children, under the age of four, is always an adventure. It is always embarrassing to see what they get into or how their curiosity gets the better of them. I have learned to embrace it and to direct their curiosity.
I was sitting in a diner with my mother and her husband. We were sitting in a corner booth with a circular bench. Grandmas are the new shiny toy and all three kids want her at the same time – her love, her affection, her praise. It naturally can be overwhelming.
Meals in general are full of flying water cups and soaked table cloths, food that needs to be blown on and chopped up. It is an ordeal and finally, the parent gets to eat.
My son was expressing discontentment – it was loud and full of emotion. He was disrupting the general atmosphere. There was no room to waste on what other people thought, I sought to calm him down by really listening to him.
One woman in the booth behind me rudely got in the middle of this and told me blatantly to” shut my child up”. Pausing for a moment with my child, I politely kneeled down next to her booth and reminded her that she is not my child's parent and that by intervening it is disrespectful to me and to my son. I asked her not to intervene further and that I will do what is appropriate to reach my child on a personal level.
The woman understood and, yes, she did take offense. I rejoice that I stood by my child and that being a child means learning. I rejoice that I stood by my commitment to listen and understand my children over any parenting technique that others think I should be applying.
And I let it go.
Ultimately what I have learned is that when I worry about what others think, there is a compromise. In many respects we put their opinion above our own intuition. There is room to learn from every person and every experience and that requires wisdom to know the difference.
I invite you to not fabricate or assume what other people are thinking. And give others grace, everyone is fighting a battle and kindness does go a long way.
Offense is something you choose to emotionally allow within you. Choose to not get offended easily and to let things roll off your back. You’ll find more joy in life this way.
The best you is the true you, seek her first and then seek to support and lift wherever the other person may be. This is my two cents on life. I hope you know that you are seen and loved!