Crocodile tears. Derived from an ancient anecdote that crocodiles shed tears for the creature they are eating; the phrase has come to refer to a hypocritical display of false emotion. Insincerity. Sometimes worse– a show of emotion to lull someone in to sharing their story or revealing their vulnerabilities only to use that information against them. Dante reserved his 8th circle of Hell (out of 9, with 9 being worst) for the fraudulent–the hucksters, the corrupt politicians, the panderers and seducers, the false teachers, the perjurers and liars.
Why are they so bad? Perhaps it is because trust is so sacred, a bridge to community, a link between people that keeps us all from chucking it and living like recluses behind a bush. But also, perhaps it is because we do not come with built in BS meters. We are born trusting; we have to learn cynicism. And the way we learn that is to be let down, over and over, by the insincere. And when that harm makes us close off and guard, we become less than what we really are.
So the solution, it seems, is to fight back, not with insincerity of our own, but with authenticity and vulnerability come what may, to keep putting it out there every day, in every circumstance with truth and love and a whole heart. To be sincere. Authenticity and sincerity will help heal those damaged by crocodile tears, and they definitely won’t land us in one of Dante’s circles.
If you look carefully, can you tell who is suffering a storm in their lives? Maybe the fog of depression, the tumult of marital strife, the buffeting of indecision, the downpour of failure? Often a calm demeanor masks these inner storms. Maybe you’ve experienced some rough weather of your own. In all of these situations, your personal sunshine–a warm smile and cheerful disposition–can quiet the storms, or at least make people feel not quite so lonely until the sun shines again. Today, bring your sunshine with you; you never know who is in a stormy place.
Sometimes you need to shake things up– come at a problem from a different angle, step back from a routine, challenge the status quo. We are creatures of habit. We take the same routes to work, chat with the same friends at break, watch the same TV programs, read the same news sources, eat the same foods, think the same thoughts. What if today was a day to be different? A day to attempt something you’ve always wanted to try, a day to introduce yourself to someone new, a day to learn a new hobby, a day to listen– really listen– to someone whose opinions differ greatly from your own, a day to put yourself in someone else’s shoes and walk around a bit, a day to be vulnerable, a day to apologize, a day to consider all your other days and where they are leading? What then?
School is starting up again. If you could go back in time to elementary school with the current you in your little body, how would you do things differently? What might you notice that you hadn’t even seen? What might you savor now that was precious and too soon over? How might you speak out when you were afraid? Who might you befriend that you realize now was lonely?
How do these insights inform the choices you are making right now today?
As we prepare our little ones for school, we can take these insights into consideration. How can we help them to see more clearly? In this gripping letter to her eldest that urges him above all else to be brave and kind, Glennon Doyle Merton says all the right things.
Jaqueline Kennedy once said that, “If you bungle raising your children, I don’t think whatever else you do matters very much.” Our children are our highest priority. Through our love and attention, they can grow up believing in themselves and their ability to make a difference. For a fascinating discussion on how simple changes in the ways we speak to them and affirm their efforts can make profound differences in their future lives, go here. It’s not about an A; it’s about engagement. It’s not about learning one skill; it’s about curiosity. It’s not about talent; it’s about effort. Simple shifts, profound results!
Normally, we don’t see the ripples spreading from the kind acts we do. But what if we could? What if kindness literally colored the world? For an adorable and uplifting video on just that, go here. It will start your day off with a smile!
Dr. Brene Brown explains, “Courage is a heart word. The root of the word courage is cor – the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “To speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” Over time, this definition has changed, and today, we typically associate courage with heroic and brave deeds.” For her powerful TED talk on courage, vulnerability, and the importance of telling your story, go here.