Even as I write this post I think of my youthful years, and how very important it was to be approved by others in what I said, did, even how I dressed. Amazing the effort I put in, but looking back, I did not get much in return. I may be the only one who did that….hahahaha! I suspect we all at some time have done this. As a matter of fact, I think we still do it as adults.
Of course there are codes of dress and hygiene and speech that sort of go without saying, literally. I am referring to the other stuff. The fact that adults panic before going into a big meeting, or giving a big presentation. Those of us who get nervous when trying to express how we feel about something, fearful we might offend someone. Why?
More than not, believe it has to do with insecurity and the absence of confidence in ourselves. It causes people panic attacks, difficulty speaking, awkward body language, and a myriad of other problems. I think we would all agree that we each have areas that make us a bit more anxious than usual. That in and of itself is just part of who we are, however when it becomes burdensome, it needs to be addressed. I know some may be thinking they have a “disorder” and they cannot help it. In some cases, it could be a real medical issue, but in many it is an issue that can be traced back to someone or something. Rather than try to explain why we do what we do, I will give 2 examples of how this can happen.
1- The “ham bone” story;
A young woman and her mother are preparing the Easter ham and as the mother cuts the bone off of the ham, the daughter asks ” why do you cut the bone off?” A little taken back, the mother responds calmly with ” well honey, that is just how we do it”. As they continue on, the mother quietly picks up the phone and calls her mother, and asks her why they cut the bone off of the ham, as the young daughter listens eagerly. Mother hangs up the phone a minute later when the daughter asks what the response was. Mother says ” Oh darling, she says we have always done it this way” so they start on the green beans. Finally the young daughter says “Mom, lets call great granny and ask her!”…reluctantly mom agrees and calls her great-grandmother and asks the same question. She hangs up the phone, waits for the question from her daughter which is already coming, and says this; ” Your great great grandmother said she does not know what we are doing it for, she just did it because back 50 years ago they did not have a pan big enough to hold the bone!”
2- When I was an administrator at a school for teenagers who had been expelled from public school, I ran across one 17-year-old who was extremely loud, threatening and violent. When I pulled him into my office and calmly asked him why he acted like that, he quickly named off a few ” anger disorders” he had been diagnosed with. Hmm, I thought…he has been sold a bill of goods that he has no control over his anger. So I did the smart, rational thing and gave him the keys to my truck. I asked him to go wait in the truck until I got there in a minute, and we would talk more as I ran a few errands. Of course he looked at me like I was nuts, but it was a moment of truth and I had to take it. A few minutes later we went to a large department store, a library, and a fast food chain. He followed quietly behind me, careful to adjust his behavior according to the setting we were in. (hint, hint).
When we arrived back at the school, I asked him one question – ” Hey, just curious why you did not knock out the check out guy at the store, or yell at anyone in the library, or even cuss a few times when someone bumped into you at the burger joint?”
He looked up, looked around, silent for a minute, then threw this at me; “Mr P., I cannot do that in those places, I will get in trouble!” About a minute later a smile came across his face, and he said ” so this school is like one of those places, right?” I smiled and said “Exactly”.
He was an honor student who rose to the top of the promotion program faster than any other student. He was able to realize that labels are not always correct. He controlled his anger, it was just his choice where he did it!
I learned very much about labeling and the harmful effects it can have on the average kid who has been repeatedly told they have this or that problem. They begin to believe it and act it out. By the way, this is a certain group, not everyone. I am aware that medical issues do actually interfere with behavior sometimes! Hope you learned as much as I did about why we do what we do!