When my kiddos were younger, they would sometimes come home and tell me that a kid at school told them they were, and you fill in the blank. We could go into a discussion about why kids are calling other kids names, but that is another discussion for another time. My parenting approach was to ask them if they were _________. I would sometimes get a little bit of pushback from my kid. “But Sally said I was.” And this is where my parenting brilliance comes in.
Is your face blue, I would ask. My child, who does not have a blue face, would say they did not. I would ask if Sally said their face was blue, would that make their face blue? The answer is, of course, not. What if Sally said it a bunch of times, over a bunch of days? Would that make your face blue? This is ridiculous, and it would be clear. Sally doesn’t get to decide if you are blue or whatever other title or description she uses.
But what if what Sally said is true? And here is where the significant part comes in. If what Sally said is true, we have to help the kiddo have enough self-confidence in WHATEVER it is that Sally might be pointing out. So that the relatively quick response internally, and maybe externally, is, “So?” If Sally is pointing out that you have two arms and two legs, you might look a little confused but can readily say, “So?”
How can we use this for ourselves? Adults are sometimes just as quick to point out things, especially online. And when they do, how can we respond? We can know that as much as someone might say our face is blue….it won’t make our face blue. And if they point out that we have two arms and two legs (if, in fact, we do)….we can say inside our head or even out loud, “So?”
One step deeper, and probably most important, is how to deal with the internal critic who is either saying our face is blue or is pointing out that we have two arms and two legs. We have to say that just because I think the thought, “my face is blue,” even if we think it over and over and over…..that will not make our face blue. We just will start believing our face is blue when it isn’t. And we have to make peace with the unique features that we keep saying we hate or is unacceptable. Again, this is NO MATTER WHAT quality we find ourselves criticizing. Accepting ourselves however we are is key to building that confidence. When you find yourself saying, “but my _____ is unacceptable,” we know we have more work to do. But it is work worth doing. We need to lean in and accept ourselves….dare I say love ourselves?