I was just recently reading some articles online and a few of them really stood out to me. They stood out as boring, repetitive, ridiculous and needing to be deleted/shredded/dismissed. It’s one thing if you give a list of suggestions for writing a better resume or best tourist sites off the beaten path. However, it’s when you start writing lists demanding (or strongly suggesting) that we change what we say, how we dress or how we live that really gets me angry.
Today, I was reading a list of “Top Ten Things you should NEVER Say to a Parent Whose Child was just Diagnosed with Autism”. OMG stop. The list contained the simplest of things like, “Never say I’m sorry.” WHY NOT? Your friend/co-worker/family member just found out that their life has been changed in a permanent way. Their life will suddenly take on a different meaning, new approaches to things, extra time and work for the simplest of things: Meals, school, play time, social activities, etc. Saying, “I’m sorry” has lots of meanings, most of which are kind and heartfelt.
What you CAN do is try adding in a, “If there is anything I can do to help, I really want you to ask me and I will do what I can.” So often, we hear that offer and then we ask out loud for help and are met with crickets. When offering assistance to someone, mean it! If they call and are overwhelmed, offer to show up with a smile and a helping hand. Don’t use cliches if you have no intent on following through with them, but don’t ever not say something because a stupid list told you not to!
Sure, there are some things you shouldn’t say, but we don’t need a “published list” to make these decisions. Asking someone if they are going to have any more children after finding out one has Autism or some other type of challenge would be an obvious one. If we do blurt out something unkind, a friend will understand that you are worried, upset or concerned and that anything you say is meant out of wanting to help. If you need a list to guide you on how to be a good friend, well then perhaps you should continue to google them.
As a mother, I have often found myself saying things to my children out of anger. I’m human. Frustrated and stressed out on some school mornings, I have been known to say, “I truly do not not understand what takes you so long to get ready!” or other tidbits when exasperated as I see the bus go by that is missed. I’ve told my children if they don’t behave that I will leave the cart and walk out of the store, and I have done just that. I don’t need a list of, “Top Ten Things to NEVER Say to your Children” to explain that I could have made a better choice.
I’m truly not sure what is driving this needs for omnipresent lists. “The Five Things you should NEVER eat!” is another one of my sore spots. You mean I shouldn’t be gulping down 5 cans of soda a day? Thank goodness this list came along so I could be enlightened! When we start relying on the internet and the culture of lists, we will find so much conflicting information that we will never know what to think, say or do in any situation.
There are a lot of people like myself who find comfort in quotes. Whether attributed to some great poet or figure in history or the random musing of a friend, quotes are there to express an opinion, a current state of mind or perhaps just a random thought. Their unique ability to somehow show up at the right time, when you’re having a rough day or trying to figure out how to handle a particular issue can be synchronicity at its finest. They don’t so much tell you what to do as suggest that a certain path can turn out to bring peace and closure. The one above here is simply stated for me. It could refer to something that was said to me five minutes ago or five years. It could remind me that legging go of the anger I felt when I heard something said to me could help me have a better day, or to perhaps help me understand when someone says something hurtful.
I don’t need a list.