I have four daughters and one son. They range in ages from 12-20 years. We are talkers. We talk about almost anything. One of the things we talk about a lot is human behavior.
Recently we were watching a movie. One girl got angry at another girl for a perceived offense. She then began to systematically ruin this girl's social life. And so began our conversation.
My son didn't see it coming. My daughters were all able to predict what would happen each step along the way. It seems this is one way males and females are still different.
My husband taught me about how boys handle things like this. He told me a story about when he was in junior high. A boy had a problem with him, didn't like him. He told my husband so. My husband said that was fine because he didn't like the boy either. Soon the fists were flying. They both got in trouble. The police were involved. They learned their lesson. And before long, they were good friends.
As I've talked to men over the years I've come to understand that this is a common happening. Guys have a problem, they deal with it (not always with fists), and often they become friends afterward. If not, at least they are direct and know where they each stand. Then they just leave each other alone.
Girls, on the other hand, are not as direct. They often continue to act friendly in person but destroy each other behind their backs. They spread rumors, they steal friends, they poison the social waters in any way they can. And it works. It works because girls/women are of the heart.
We understand how people feel. We learn what is important to them. We understand that they are social creatures, that cutting off their social support is like suffocating them. We know how to hurt another person in a way that is so much deeper than a physical injury. And because we are of the heart, these wounds damage us. This attack works.
I wish I could say this ends in junior high. For some of us it probably does. I've known some incredible women who would never say anything bad about another person, who would never strike at another's soul.
I wish I was one of them, but I'm not. Sometimes I'm petty. Sometimes I'm jealous and self-centered. Sometimes I'm just impatient. And often I am critical.
As women we have an incredible ability to do good. We can use this same power to lift others up. Instead of seeing how those around us don't measure up, we can look for things they are doing well and praise them. We can encourage them. We can thank them. It's this same exact power -- the power of the heart -- that offers us this choice. We can do so much good or so much harm.
People don't need to be told what they are doing wrong; they already know. They need to be told that they are of worth. They need to be told that they are capable of better, that we believe in them. They need to be appreciated for what they have to offer, not told how they are lacking.
I am a woman. I have the power of the heart. I commit today to use this power more wisely and kindly. Because I can. I have a choice. I hope you will join me.