It’s really interesting how it takes a little butt whooping to put perspective on things. While I was getting ready for my first Jiu Jitsu competition, I had a sparring session with a fellow guy team mate. In the most efficient and gentlemanly way, he proceeded to kick my ass. After the session, I walked away and thought, “He didn’t take pity on me simply because I’m a girl. He gave me exactly what I needed to get ready for my tournament”.
What I needed at that moment was definitely not pity, but tough love
This concept of tough love has been a bit of a constant in my life.
Ranging from childhood with my family
(Tiger mom? Please, my childhood was basically child labor, but now I can clean the hell out of a bathroom), to a tough as nails softball coach (he threw a bat at me to demonstrate how dangerous it was for the ankle to incorrectly straddle 2nd base, for my own safely of course) to my yoga teacher who has no problem smacking my foot with hers to remind me to keep my heel down (she is amazing even when she yells, and it’s basically just a love tap).
Though they came in different packages, the underlying message from all of those teachers was the same. They didn’t take it easy on me because they felt bad for me, they firmly asked more from me because they wanted to help me become better.
Having pity on people isn’t always a good thing. With the immediate effect of making things easier, in the long run sugar coating or enabling certain behaviors can lead to disappointment or failure. Feeling bad for someone or having pity for someone doesn’t always make them better, but instead it can hinder them.
So the next time you hear stern words from a coach, teacher, or even a loved one, consider why they are being so demanding. Is it because they care about you? Do they want to see you succeed?
Maybe child labor isn’t torture, but a life skill that teaches hygiene.
Maybe a few loud garbled words and a tossed bat prevents dislocated knees.
Maybe a tap on the foot is a reminder to of the potential danger of straining a ligament.
Know that under the sometimes a teacher’s gruff exterior, there is a soft underbelly of love and hope. They see the possibility that is just underneath the surface, but sometimes the act of polishing can get rough.