The other day, my 10-year-old son came home from school and told me that a girl had asked him to be her boyfriend (oh my how times have changed!). They have been friends for a while now, but he never had any interest in her romantically (I can't believe I just wrote that about a 10-year-old). Anyway, when she asked him
to "go out" with her, he said, "Let me think about it." The next day, when she asked for an answer, he said no. It was painful for him to hurt his friend's feelings, but I told him that he needed to be true to himself.
So a mutual friend of theirs asked why he turned her down. My son said he didn't want to tell him why. But the boy kept pushing and pushing until my son said to him, "Okay, I'll tell you. But you have to PROMISE not to tell her. Do you PROMISE?" The boy promised. So he admitted that he just didn't think she was "attractive."
Well, that was a mistake.
Of course, the boy went and told the girl that my son doesn't think she's pretty. And, of course, the girl burst into tears and basically hated my son for it.
And so when my son got off the bus that day, he burst into tears himself when he walked through the door. It was painful for him that he hurt his friend's feelings, because he had no intention of doing so. And it also hurt him that his other friend betrayed his trust and broke his promise.
I tell you this story not to bore you, make you laugh, nor to catch you up on my family gossip (although I have many more funny stories I could share with you). I tell you this story because it is representative of something that probably most of us have been through at one time or another in life: (1) hurting other
people's feelings unintentionally and (2) having a friend betray us.
So I came up with 4 lessons we can all learn (or remember) from my son's unfortunate experience.
Here are 4 things you should remember ... always:
1. Watch what you say.
I’m sure you remember your mother telling you, “Think before you speak!” Well, moms are wise. They know what they’re talking about. Once it’s out there, you can’t take it back! Sure, you can try, but it’s not possible.
2. Don’t trust everyone.
I had to learn this one the hard way. I grew up in a very trustworthy family. You could count on them –if they said it, they meant it. But I am one of the lucky ones – relatively speaking. I’m lucky that I had such a great family. However, that got me into some situations later in my life that didn’t work out so well for me. I trusted people’s word, and they didn’t follow through. I finally learned not to trust everyone. I think I just learned later in life than most people. But better late than never, I guess. Right?
3. Your words have a long-lasting effect on people.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” That famous quote couldn’t be more wrong! Words sometimes hurt more than physical wounds. At least the physical wounds heal themselves. But if you say something that tears down someone’s self-esteem, it could stay with them
4. If you hurt someone, own up to it. Apologize and make it right.
No one is perfect – we all make mistakes. That’s not the problem. The problem is that a lot of people don’t take personal responsibility for their actions. They like to point the fingers at others and/or make up excuses for why they aren’t wrong. That doesn’t work. So if you’re one of those people, stop doing
My son’s story has a happy ending. I told him that he needed to go up to her the next day – face to face - and apologize. He needed to tell her that she was pretty, and that he didn’t mean the words he said yesterday. I wasn’t sure if she’d buy it, but I didn’t want him or me to incur bad karma by ruining the little girl’s self esteem. I could just hear it in my head. When she’s 35, someone asks her, “Why don’t you think
you’re beautiful?” And she replies, “Because when I was in 5th grade, this boy I had a crush on said I wasn’t pretty!” I didn’t want that “blood” on my hands or my son’s. I want to us to leave people happier and feeling good about themselves. Not the opposite.
Even though the girl ignored him and wouldn’t let him apologize face-to-face, he wrote her a note instead. When she read it, she got a big smile on her face, and said to him, “Okay. I forgive you!”
And now they are friends again.
Not all stories like this have a happy ending. But if you keep these 4 things in mind every day, hopefully you won’t run into any unfortunate circumstances like my son did this week.
With that said, go out and make people feel good about themselves today! And feel good about YOURSELF too!
Have a great week! :)
Dr. Carol Morgan &
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