I read an article from Elephant Journal recently called: Be Cool and Don’t Be an As*hole.
It inspired me to write a follow up. It reminded me of a hard lesson I had to learn in high school, and one I have learned over at least 300 times since then.
I was bitching about a girl at school. I remember this moment so clearly I can relive it whenever I want.
I was standing in my parent’s kitchen, leaning up against an old, giant, wooden butcher block. I was really angry, fuming. I don’t remember what sparked the anger, but that’s no longer important. My Dad, wine glass in hand, stood listening in silence. When I finally paused he asked one question: What does she make you afraid of?
I felt like I’d taken a blow to my heart, it physically ached. And in that moment, possibly for the first time ever, I saw the pain and beauty of having social workers as parents. They were overqualified for these types of conversations.
While the purpose of my bitching was to seek validation, that just didn’t happen in our house. Instead, my brother and I got questions about our fears and feelings. Sound ideal? Enlightening? Nah, man. No one’s parents are perfect. I was launched into the real world without a clue about saving money, but I could analyze the shit out of why I had eight maxed out credit cards.
Back to my moment. I was being an asshole, or worse, I was being a mean girl. Had that girl been in front of me, the things I was saying would have ripped her apart, provided she cared what I thought. But my inner mean girl only existed to mute my coward, my fear.
I complained from hell to high water about how she literally brought nothing to the table as a human being and that I couldn’t understand why I had to put up with her—she wasn’t even my friend, just a pawn in our social group. When my Dad asked that horrifying question, I felt all the anger and judgment come back at me like a boomerang.
I saw me in her. I didn’t want her around me simply because she rubbed me the wrong way. She’d done nothing to hurt me. I feared I would become what I saw in her: whiny, unwanted by our group of bitches, self conscious, needy, unsure of herself.
So, how does one love their inner mean girl? Honor her for being the Indian Jones of one’s thoughts and emotions.
I read somewhere people have over 70,000 thoughts a day, so if what Buddha says is really true and people are what they think, then I suppose someone has got to dive into the depths, find those fearful thoughts, shine some light and clean house. Particularly on the ones people get extra good at ignoring, perhaps because they’re so uncomfortable.
Thank you, inner mean girl. That’s some serious dirty work.
This lesson comes back to me every time my anger towards someone else rears her ugly, mean girl head. Sometimes I take the high road and apologize to that fearful little girl inside me, ask her what’s up and remind her that she’s loved. Other times it’s just more entertaining (and a much bigger release) to let that anger feed off my shame and fear for awhile. I’m human; however, I thoroughly believe, the bigger a mean girl, the more opportunity to hear those thoughts of what someone fears and more importantly, what holds them back. Not easy to do, but wildly rewarding.
So thanks, Dad. Nearly 13 years later I am eternally grateful for that painful question and have learned to love (most of the time) my eye-opening, heart aching, mean girl moments.
Samantha Caplan, founder of Your Sweet Sense Coaching, is a product of her environment. With a mother who specializes in end-of-life care (that is, assisting families and loved ones with their final moments on this earth), and a father whose passion is the homeless and less advantaged, her love is of people and the earth. A graduate of the University of Vermont, she is a health-obsessing, running, yogi-ing, big-picture thinking, chocolate-loving, martini sipping, writing, tweeting, purpose-searching woman…who is occasionally too stubborn for her own good. Some of her previous work includes cancer-care and research, online education, and personal health coaching and nannying. Diverse, if nothing else. If you want to find out more (or just say hello) feel free to email her at: [email protected]
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Ed: Sara Crolick/Kate Bartolotta