“Mom can you drive me down to my friend’s house?” asked our 15-year-old daughter.
The friend lives down the street.
Let me clarify.
The friend lives two blocks away.…in our neighborhood.
“No, you can walk.” I said calmly.
“But I have to carry her birthday gift and I’m already late.” She responded, a little more intense.
“That’s not my fault. You had hours to get ready.”
Yea, but I couldn’t figure out what to wear. Pleeeaase. I need you to drive me.” Her tone more desperate than before.
“Again, not my fault. You can walk.”
She snaps back at me appalled and angry. “Are you serious? It’s gonna take me at least 5 more minutes to walk there! I’ll drive myself then!”
“No you won’t. You don’t have a license yet. You can walk.”
Completely insubordinate and outraged, she says, “NO! Im NOT walking! I’m taking the keys and I’m driving myself!!”
She proceeds to grab my keys off of the counter and takes about 3 steps toward the door.
Let’s pause the story here for a minute.
This is my oldest, 90% compliant, loving daughter acting a complete fool over 5 minutes of walking. I swear all I could think is “she has lost her mind” and “I have failed this child at some point because she thinks 5 minutes of walking is outrageous.”
Back to the story.
I give her the mom stare and say louder and firmer with eyes that could shoot fireballs: “You better put those keys down right this second or you will not get your license until you’re 18. And don’t EVER tell me what you’re doing with my keys and my car! You are walking, end of discussion.”
Knowing that was final, she slammed the keys back on the counter, huffing and puffing as she stomped out the door, being sure to semi-slam it. Slamming a door in our house is guaranteed to not go well for the culprit.
Ahhh. Sweet silence. Lord. Have. Mercy.
Ever been there?
No, not in MY shoes. In my daughters.
Most people would write that off as teenage hormones. No ma’am. Lots of us grown ups act this way regularly. It may just play out a little different.
Think about it. You’re upset due to your own poor choices. You feel frustrated with yourself, but don’t want to feel the weight of your shame, guilt, or condemnation. So somehow you decide the logical decision is to project that judgement onto someone else. Whoever is the closest at the time will often do.
We humans have a tendency to dislike taking responsibility and owning our stuff. It’s so much easier to blame and project.
WHY DO WE DO THIS? There are several reasons but I’ve discovered one of the biggest is a lack of compassion for ourselves. Yes. For OURSELVES.
When is the last time you projected your frustration on someone that deep down was due to your own self judgement?
Y’all, it’s time to stop. Our self judgement is not serving us nor the people around us.
Showing myself greater compassion continues to be a journey for me, but here are two things that have helped me along the way:
1. Give yourself permission to be imperfect.
You may try saying out loud daily, “I give myself permission to be imperfect.” This is absolutely vital because you never will be perfect so if you don’t give yourself permission and compassion to not be, you’ll constantly live in a state of self judgement.
2. Practice treating yourself like you would a friend or a small child.
Now this won’t work if you’re normally just a total jerk of a friend and speak down to small children like they’re an annoyance and inconvenience. But for the rest of you, this could very well be the thing that creates a beautiful habit of self-compassion and begins rewriting the story you’ve always told yourself about how you don’t measure up.
Be kind to yourself.
The world needs what you have to offer.
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P.S. For those of you wondering....my daughter came back later and apologized and we had a great conversation about this very topic. I love the truth that where healthy relationships exists, disagreements will serve to further deepen the friendship and trust.