Have you ever thought about how we treat those we are closest to? Most especially, have you every thought about how you treat the members of your family? I think many people will agree with me, that we frequently display our very worse self to the members of our own family.
I had an incidence happen yesterday that has caused me to think a bit. Jaimee hosted a barbecue last night for the 4th. I was attempting to help her in all the hosting duties, despite the fact that I'm terrible in the kitchen. This is mostly because I've no experience in the kitchen or preparing food for others. I guess if I had kids or spouse, or was a frequent entertainer, the situation would be different. I've always been reluctant to help out, since I can be more trouble than help, which the host/hostess doesn't need during a stressful time. Usually I'm asked to do something I've never done before or have no clue how to do. It's not a teaching time, so I'm usually given some other task.
At this event, I was asked to cut the watermelon into pieces and put in a bowl. I've never bought a watermelon for myself, nor have I been a watermelon fan. I found spitting out seeds took enjoyment of the watermelon away from the experience. At some point, I'd heard of seedless watermelon, but never bought one. Anyhow, I had the usual sinking feeling when asked to cut the watermelon, and I didn't know how. Jaimee, displaying her usual amount of endless patience, actually took the time to show me not only how, but an easy way to do it. I was quite amazed. I actually cut up the whole watermelon.
I was pretty excited since I had learned to do something I had never done before. I told a family member who first walked in to the kitchen with some pride, "That was the first time I've ever cut up a whole watermelon". She looked at me, showed a very negative facial expression and said, "I'm not surprised." I happened to know she has a lot of negative opinions of me (as she's shared them before), so I felt pretty demeaned and judged. I started to remember all the negative things she believes about me. Nevertheless, trying to bounce back, I managed to still be happy at what I'd done. When I shared that it was the first watermelon I'd ever cut, with the next family member, much to my gratitude, she was able to smile with me and share in my pleasure with me. That really helped me to feel better, after I'd been sort of put down by the response of the person before.
As I worked today, I thought about last night. How often do we do what the first family member did, resort to judging our family members, and instead of reveling and celebrating the good with them, resort to squashing their joy and judging them. We always talk about the golden rule, and how we should do unto others as we would have them do unto us. I wonder though, "Do we really "get it"? I've seen people be rude to spouses, kids, siblings, make comments that are put downs (sometimes disguised as jokes), yell, scream and otherwise engage in behaviors that we would never exhibit to strangers. I think I myself have been less than kind on occasion in the past, though I hope not anymore.
It's kind of the same principle as something else I learned at one time, regarding how we treat ourselves. I've always believed we need to be our own best friend, and to treat ourselves as good or better than we treat our friends. If I found myself starting to be unkind to myself in my thoughts, I've gotten in front of the mirror and talked to myself, to reinforce that I am a real person, and to remind myself to treat myself as well as I treat those I care about. It has helped me on more than one occasion, to bounce back from some very difficult things.
I suspect so many of us think that we're good with the golden rule, in how we treat people. However, that may only mean, how we treat our friends, acquaintances, or even strangers. Our biggest priority with the golden rule needs to be how we treat ourselves, and our family members. Catching our tongue, stopping our judgments and just find the good and the joy in the moment to celebrate, or just to love and uplift. I suspect that true growth may be when we can treat ourselves and those we love, those we share our lives with, those who try our patience just because they're in our lives every day as well as we treat the casual friend or stranger. Food for thought.
Gratitude entry: Since celebrating the 4th of July, I'm realizing tonight how grateful I am for the freedom that we have here in this great country. Many billions of people don't have the freedom to live, love and enjoy life in quite the way we do. I'm eternally grateful for this.