Lessons I wish my children didn’t have to learn the hard way: Post Number 3

People are can be jerks. That’s not the lesson. It’s a fact we all learn early in life. From the time we hit the playground in kindergarten only to be shoved off the swings by the mean kid.

Jerks abound. Strangers can be jerks. People we work with can be jerks. Friends can be jerks. People we love the most can be jerks. And, we, ourselves, can be jerks.

The reasons people can be jerks vary. Sometimes people are jerks without knowing they’re being jerks. Sometimes they’re jerks because they’re just in a bad mood. Maybe they didn’t get enough sleep, something went wrong, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes they feel justified in being a jerk because they perceive the person they are communicating with to be a jerk.

Everyone is a jerk sometimes. Occasionally, someone is a jerk all or most of the time. Rarely, you come across someone who is almost or never a jerk. (Aspire to be like those people!)

The only person we can stop from being a jerk is ourselves. We cannot do anything about the other jerky people out there. We can, however, control how we react when someone is being a jerk in our direction. We can choose to be a jerk right back. We can give them the finger. We can tell ourselves what a big giant jerk that person is and walk away feeling righteous and superior. We can make up a story in our head about why that person is a jerk: they think they’re better than us, they think they’re smarter than us, they don’t like us, they’re mean spirited, they’re stupid, they’re a BIG MEAN JERK.

OR.

Or, we can acknowledge to ourselves that maybe that person is going through something crappy. We can think about how maybe that person didn’t mean to be a jerk. Maybe that person didn’t even know they were being a jerk. We can make up a story in our head about why that person is being a jerk: they have low self esteem, they’re overwhelmed, they’re tired, they have PMS, they just lost their job, their loved one has cancer.

We can respond to that jerkiness with kindness. This is hard. This goes against our natural fight or flight reaction – be a jerk back or walk away. I haven’t mastered being kind to jerks yet. I haven’t even mastered wanting to be kind to jerks yet. But, I acknowledge that I have to try.

I read a line in this blog ( http://www.theseeds4life.com/life-can-only-be-understood-backwards-but-it-must-be-lived-forwards-soren-Kierkegaard ) and it stuck with me:

Sometimes we were forced to admit our powerlessness and learned to practice acceptance.

Anyway…the lesson here is this:

The only power we have in life is over our own reactions and responses to the world around us. The only way we can make the world around us a better place is to be better people.

Being better people is hard frickin’ work. It takes effort. It means quieting the negative voice in our heads and searching for the positive voice that is softer but profound. Everybody has one…just hush up and listen.

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