Kid Wisdom: It's Just Her Face
When Daughter One was about 10, she said something that has stuck with me for more than a decade. Considering all that is taking up space in this brain, that's impressive, and it must have been memorable.
I'll never forget. We were coming to a 4-way-stop in our little town, and there was a little lady we saw all the time. She walked everywhere, literally all over town. Of course, I stopped fully and waited for her to cross the street. While she was crossing, she turned and gave me the nastiest look.
"What did I do? I stopped!" I was dismayed.
That's when Daughter One said: "Mom, I think it's just her face."
Now, she wasn't being mean. There isn't a mean bone in her body. What she said made me think. I got it. It clicked. I've returned to that thought many times over the years, as I've experienced various versions of that face.
Here's what a smart 10-year-old knew: Other people's reactions to you don't necessarily have anything to do with you. Look, if you make a jerk move, then yes, expect well deserved mean mugs. But sometimes people are just not happy, not friendly, and not polite.
Sometimes it's just her or his face. In other words, don't take it personally. It's her nature to be contrary. Or perhaps she just appears to be mad. It's her internal experience showing on her face. It reflects her not you. It has nothing to do with you.
A decade later, I've applied this kid wisdom to help me not take everything quite so personally. (I'm a Cancer. So, I struggle with this. I'm a little sensitive under my hard shell.)
How to apply "It's just her face" to your life
Example: A co-worker, friend, or family member always finds fault with you. Nothing you do ever seems good enough for this person, who we'll call Grouchana. As I've said to one such person before, "I could lay a golden egg, and you'd find something wrong with it."
Thought process: You might think: Why does Grouchana hate me? What did I do wrong? Or worse: What's wrong with me?
It's-just-her-face check: Let's run a quick test on Grouchana. Is she usually contrary, unhappy, and generally bitter about life? Yeah, turns out she is. So, what does her negative attitude have to do with you? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. She might say it's you, your work, the way your braid your kid's hair, the way you breathe. But it's not you. It's her. Don't fall for her tricks. It's just her face!
What Grouchana wants vs. what you want: Put simply, Grouchana wants everyone else to be as miserable as she is. She wants to know she has power over you because she can get under your skin.
She wants to control you through her words, actions, and nasty demeanor. No thanks. Last time I checked, other people don't control me. They sure don't get to dictate my self-worth. It's called self-worth for a reason.
What do you want? (Aside from throwing Grouchana a going away party.) You want to control your emotions and not allow someone with pissy-pants to make you feel like crap.
It's not easy. I know. I've cried in bathroom stalls, at my desk, in my car, under my bed with ice cream. People can be mean, and I've never had thick skin. I don't think it's in my nature. But I want to be better at not taking things personally. That's why I'm sharing this with you now and reminding myself: