Choose Kindness

Why do some women thrive on breaking other women down? It’s a question I’ve reflected on for most of my life, and nearly 35 years later I still feel quite perplexed by all of it.

mean girls

I can think of a handful of mean girls who thrived on unkindness in middle school and high school. I remember on more than one occasion pouring my heart out to my mother as tears rolled down my face about how unbearable it felt to face the cruelty of these mean spirited girls. I know I certainly hoped that after high school, girls would outgrow this phase and I wouldn’t have to lose sleep over their antics.

darling

Even into adulthood, I’ve faced my fair share of mean girls. They thrive on the drama of bringing others down. Oftentimes fueled by jealousy, they bring their toxicity, mean spiritedness, and general crappy disposition into the workplace and it lingers like a bad cold that just won’t go away.

stronger in the places

As a woman, a wife, a mother, a friend, and a professional, I’m always taken aback by these types of women. Are they really so unhappy that they need to rain our parade of happiness? Why do they feel like they have a right to act this way and treat others so poorly?

woman

Even as a counselor, I don’t have all of the answers. There is undoubtedly a significant amount of insecurity, unhappiness, and anger they are enmeshed in. I work with high school girls who struggle with mean girls just like I did when I was in their shoes. It’s significantly worse now as a result of social media. So few people today filter their comments, think twice about how their words can cut someone else, or even seem to bat an eye when they take it too far.

i wish

I write this piece today for two separate but also distinctly important reasons. First and foremost, all women deserve to be respected and appreciated for who they are. Each of us has unique talents and gifts that we share with the world and someone else shouldn’t think it’s okay to step in and try to break someone down for being true to themselves. Most of my readers are women doing their very best every day to put their best foot forward and make a positive difference in the world. The last thing we should be trying to do is break down one of our own.

people can be mean 2

Secondly, encouraging and propagating negative behavior only stirs the pot more and makes mean girls and mean women for that matter continue to behave in this manner. It starts with each and every one of us. Stop giving them a platform. Stop giving them an audience. Stop letting them think it’s okay to break down other women in any other capacity. Our lives as women, wives, mothers, and friends should be about bringing out the best in ourselves and others. We don’t know what kinds of struggles and hardships another individual is carrying with them into work, Wal-Mart, or Wendy’s. It is not our place to judge, mistreat, or berate someone else.

collaborate

You might be wondering what prompted me to address this topic today? In truth, I’m quite frustrated by a mean spirited coworker who has been trying to break my own spirits. Her underhanded behavior has definitely gotten under my skin. However I refuse to let her ruffle my feathers enough to stoop down to her level. I will hold my head high, continue to pour myself passionately into my work as a counselor, and kill her with kindness. On my best days, I walk away from work completely unaffected by her behavior. On my worst days, I have a few choice words I use as I vent to my mom on the drive home.

be kind even to

Even in darkness, kindness makes the world a better place. Today, tomorrow, and the day after that, start throwing kindness around like it’s confetti. Put an end to encouraging the drama queens and mean girls of the world. Squelch out their voice with your kind words, explosive optimism, and beautiful smile.

here's to

 

In my Head

As a counselor, I spend a significant amount of energy encouraging others to approach life with optimism. Our heads and hearts benefit from positive thinking that builds us up and allows us to grow. When we allow negative thinking to permeate our thoughts, it clouds our perspective and ultimately brings us down.

a negative mind will never

But just like everyone else, I am human too. I think and feel deeply about the things I am most passionate about. When my personal emotions set it, oftentimes rational thinking is the first thing to fall apart at the seams.

if you realized

A situation at work today with a parent undoubtedly rattled my chains to the core. Behind closed doors, anger gave way to frustration which quickly gave way to tears. As a counselor, there is nothing I value more than my professional integrity and unconditional positive regard for the students, parents, and colleagues I work with. When someone tries to diminish my character or invalidate my intentions, I find it unsettling, degrading, and hurtful.

overthinking

Because this situation occurred at the very end of the day, I composed myself enough to open the door to my office and sneak out of the back entrance.   On my drive home, I hoped loud, upbeat music would allow my negative feelings to subside. In situations like this, however, the counselor in me goes right out the window. I fixate on the negative, let it marinate for far too long, and eventually find myself completely unable to avoid the thoughts in my head.

the mind is everything

Tonight even after my five mile run underneath a blanket of beautiful stars, I still couldn’t shake the negativity I was carrying. Because I still have to confront this issue again tomorrow, it’s highly unlikely the dust will settle overnight. Going against all of the guidance and insight I offer my students, I’m wallowing in negative thinking and letting it get the best of me.

your mind is a positive

It’s time to kick this pity party to the curve. This Mama Bear may be down, but she’s not broken. I will do my best to tuck away these negative feelings until tomorrow because quite frankly they’ve taken up enough of my afternoon and evening. Perhaps some meditation over the following quotes will help put things in perspective for me. “Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s trouble, [but] it [certainly took] away today’s peace.” Here’s to a new day, the power of positive thinking, and the silver linings in life that bring radiance and light in those darker moments!