I don’t know the origin story for this sign. I can only imagine that it was something someone made back in the early 70’s and gave to my parents. I just remember it hanging on the fiberboard walls of my dad’s beloved garage while I was growing up. I can only assume that my mom couldn’t find quite the right place to display it in our house. Or she found it tacky.
But my dad had an appreciation for this sign. It meant something to him. It was hung on those fiberboard walls next to scribblings from family and friends from near and far who were visiting our house for one celebration or another. Dad got a big kick out of having guests sign the wall in the garage to commemorate various celebrations. He was quite the sentimental guy.
I think first and foremost, this sentiment, these words, apply to the important concept of self-care. I think it’s easy to go through our days mentally haranguing ourselves about how we could have done “this” better, or how we shouldn’t have said “that” to whomever, or that we should have reacted differently in a particular situation. Something I’m trying to do lately is to put my self-defeating thoughts on pause for a moment and ask myself if the negative thoughts about myself would be something I would actually say out loud (or even under my breath) to a close friend. The answer is always, emphatically, “no”. I think this sign is an excellent reminder to be gentle (aka kind) to oneself.
I also believe if we have any hope of ushering in a kinder, less dysfunctional, society, not only for the benefit of those of us living in the here and now, but for the generations coming up behind us, we should endeavor to heed these words in our day to day interactions with others, whether they be strangers or friends.
What does this look like for me? I think it’s more what it sounds like, in my case. When I am frustrated with another person because they are jumping on my last nerve, if I’m being honest, these not-so-positive feelings are evident in my tone of voice. If I can be cognizant of this fact, in the moment, I can hit the pause button for a hot second and make the necessary adjustments. I think one simple tool is to slap a smile on my face. Then when I open my mouth to speak again, the words cannot help but come out in a kinder, gentler way.
Tell me, kind and gentle readers, do you think this sentiment has value as I do? If so, what does it look like in your life?