My talented and gifted (TAG) teacher asked us to write an essay: Is a fifth grader basically bad or good? It sounded impossible to figure out but getting the answer was a life-changer.
Right away I remembered the class bully this morning before school teasing a kid with only one arm. That’s bad. And then I tried to think of someone that was good. There’s this fourth grader that invited me to start a club for collecting canned food for the homeless. Can’t tell you how fun it’s been to have kids bring the food in and then go with our parents to the bridge people with the food. Funny—when I thought about both of these people, I felt tight and stressed with the first one and so relaxed and like warm water running through me with the other. I’ll take the second one any day.
Then I wondered, “Why would someone choose to tease the kid with one arm —so mean — and another think of helping people — so kind? Then I thought about a special series we just finished in our TAG class on emotions. I didn’t know it, but what starts when we wake up and ends our day before sleep are four emotions that every human being constantly has: fear, anger, sadness, and love. The teacher said love and fear are the biggest ones. Meanness has got to come from anger, and kindness from love. Our teacher said anger is always caused by fear and we are using anger to get rid of what’s causing the fear. She said it rarely works and almost always ends up with a lot of sadness. Confusing! What would make the bully fearful of this kid with one arm? Beyond me. I’ll ask the teacher later.
Then I wondered what got this mean kid to be angry all the time – it’s like his full-time job. Also seems more people are mean than loving. Mom probably knows. She’s always so loving to me. She’s a brain doctor and is really into religion.
So I ask her, “Why are so many people mean and so few kind?”
“Do you remember that stuff about the four emotions, especially that fear and love are our two basic emotions? Mean people don’t love themselves. They think they are bad and have a lot of fear. Kind people really love themselves, feel they are good, and are constantly corralling fear with love.”
“Mom, dumb it down for me, I don’t get it,”
She points to a plaque above the table — If you don’t have something kind to say, zip it — and asks me, “What does it take to think kind thoughts and be kind?”
I had forgotten, but now I remember. The answer comes from a Confucius saying right below the kind plaque: Never impose on others what you would not choose for yourself. Duh! Who would choose being mean to themselves?
“You are always helping me to be kind to myself, especially when I mess up. Now I think I’m getting it. When there’s a problem and someone’s mad at me, I’m scared. You always say it’s natural to be mad or mean to yourself and the other person when you’re scared. As you say, it always makes things worse. I guess that’s what makes a person mean to others. Being scared. And you’ve taught me to be kind to myself and not get mad at myself or the other person.”
I point to the Confucius saying. “Uh, since I choose to not be mean to myself, I should not impose meanness on others? It’s hard to always be kind but it really works. Mom, thanks for helping me be kind to myself.”
Mom continues, “When that kindness is a habit, a person knows they are lovable; they like themselves and know they will be loved. It’s really possible for everyone, but so few achieve it and you have. So, do you think the bully is kind to himself or angry when he makes a mistake?”
“He’s got to be really angry at himself and takes it out on everyone. Is it something like that?”
“You’ve got it. Never forget, when you always practice being kind to yourself, you’ll be kind to others, and here’s the really big deal — people will really like you.”
I got out of my chair and hugged mom, “Thanks mom, for teaching me to love myself. I’m going to try to be extra kind to the bully.” Now I don’t dread writing that essay.
You have just witnessed the revolutionary parenting approach Love Infusing Fear – Therapy (LIFT). A fifth grader learns the LIFT mechanics for acquiring a human’s intended core identity, “I’m Lovable.”
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