The “It’s Never As Bad or Good As It Seems” Approach

I know this sounds like strange advice to say to myself before my children arrive home:

“It’s never as bad or as good as it seems.”

In other words, I’m learning how to receive news of their daily struggles and triumphs with measured responses. I’m learning how to speak with clarity, tranquility, and less hyperbole or exaggeration.

Besides, these teen struggles and triumphs last exactly 3 minutes before there’s something new to talk about. So rather than engaging with my usual over-the-top self, I’m learning how to, as they say it, chill. 

Some of you are laughing because I speak in extremes! I do! I do all the time! I’m always exclaiming how awesome something is or how devastating. I’m also a walking existential crisis, so everything matters so deeply! Everything! Every little thing!

But I’m learning a new gentleness of spirit that diminishes both catastrophic and euphoric responses to my children–and to my own life events. This helps everyone relax. This helps us see our daily events more calmly.

It’s bad, yes, but not as bad as it seems. 

It’s wonderful, yes, and let’s receive this blessing with joy, knowing how quickly our circumstances could change. 

For someone like me who listens and immediately feels either the absolute catastrophe (It’s ruined! We’re doomed! This is terrible, and we’ll never recover!) of a situation, or, on the flip side, the joyous, incomparable blessing (This is the best thing ever! This is beyond awesome! This is seriously amazing!) of your words, I need to temper my response.

Like that overblown sentence, I need to calm down, stay tranquil, and find some middle space between minimizing your news or maximizing it to its worst meaning possible.

There’s time for all this enthusiasm and energy in me, but with teen girls, I’m finding it’s better to empathize in ways that don’t stir up emotions they don’t need–or want– to manage.

Isn’t that the best advice ever!!!???

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