It’s a matter of perspective
We teach our kids to not listen to what others say about them yet nearly everything they do is graded or evaluated by someone. “If it’s not important then why is it important?” is an interesting paradox. Some of this confusion is eliminated when “you consider the source.” In other words, knowing if the person that made a statement is or is not qualified to make that statement. While this is often true it still doesn’t give a steadfast rule on who and what we should or should not listen too. Ironically, some of the most unlikely people will share some of the most profound insights at the most unexpected time.
The bottom line is, I don’t think there’s a single rule. We need to listen to everything and understand the viewpoint that is behind what we hear and not just what is said. This is especially true with kids. Think about all of the people that give guidance to a child each day. From sun up to sun down a child will get input and feedback from parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, friends, friend’s parents and the list goes on.
The answer is perspective. Each person that you meet has a unique perspective on life in general and on you. They see you through their life experiences. For instance, a rocket scientist and a rock star would each see you in very different ways yet you are the same person. It seems simple and obvious. However, it can be difficult to explain to kids so here’s a fun way to make this point.
You will need a piece of white paper and two pairs of sunglasses; one with pink lenses and one with blue lenses. You can do this with a group of kids, but it will work just as well with only one. Assuming you have a group, pick two kids out and ask one to put on the pink glasses and the other to put on the blue glasses. Hold up the piece of white paper and ask the child wearing the pink glasses to tell everyone what color the paper is and then ask the child wearing the blue glasses to tell everyone what color the paper is. The answers will be “pink” and “blue” respectively. Is the paper really pink or blue? Of course not, the white paper only appears pink or blue. Explain to the kids that this is often what happens when people talk about you. They see you through a different lens. What they see is not necessary wrong to them because their experiences, preferences and opinions are the lenses they are looking through. They say that the paper is pink or blue because that’s exactly what they see.
So how is this helpful? When we at least understand a little bit about the person making a statement the focus will come off of us. Some of the most hurtful statements are made through the lens of anger. If you can recognize this you will find it a lot easier to “not take it personal” because the statement is not really about you.
The next time someone says something that hurts you, picture him or her wearing pink sunglasses. More importantly, before you say something that’s hurtful, stop and think about what color sunglasses you’re wearing.