Dear Daughter: About the Shrug
Today I want to give you a gift. Not only another quilt block and letter for your Dear Daughter Quilt, but a gift too. First I had better prepare the scene.
You are a caring girl. You care about how people feel. With your increasing confidence at your new school, you’re willing to take on other people’s battles, as well as your own. In a sensible and thoughtful manner. For this I am very proud of you.
Sometimes you let their troubles sit deep within you. Eating away at you. You tend to over-think situations. You care about their thoughts. It niggles you that they think the way they do. Sometimes their words and actions hurt you. You are a caring girl, after all.
Caring is good. It’s how we get things done, but, and there is a but, we have to be either selective or prioritize otherwise we’d get nothing done.
So back to my gift. After a lot of thought, I think you are ready to use the shrug. Is that it, you may ask? It doesn’t sound much. I can see your point, but if you use it wisely, it can be a life saver. Use it incorrectly, and you’ll wish you hadn’t.
A shrug is literally a way to remove trouble from your shoulders. When you take on a problem, yours or another’s, you carry it on your shoulders. Sitting on your shoulder, it will weigh you down. Hold it there long enough and it moves into the rucksack on your back and there it stays.
The best plan is to shrug it off your shoulders before it gets established and does harm. Not all troubles can or should be shrugged off easily, so you’ll have to choose wisely. Prioritize. Do all your friend’s problems have to sit on your shoulders? No. You are a friend, so maybe a few, but not all. Shrug them off.
Do all your own problems have to be carried around? Probably not. Some you’ll find are not actually your problem. They can go. Shrug. Some can be dealt with quickly and your shoulders will feel lighter. Others aren’t really problems and just made it on to your shoulders by mistake. Forgive them.
A good use of the shrug is when a problem is hidden in harsh words aimed at you. You’ll recognize this sort easily, as you’re left wondering what you did to deserve that treatment. You didn’t. Nine-out-of-ten times, the problem is theirs. Shrug it off. It’s their problem. Keep an ear out for the real problem, but don’t give it shoulder room. (The other one-out-of-ten, in this case, is just thoughtlessness. No one needs to carry that around, so shrug it off. You can bet they have already done it.)
If you find a problem keeps on jumping back on your shoulders, then there are a few possible explanations.
1. Firstly, you may not be shrugging correctly.
2. Secondly, you might need to reassess whose problem it is and whether you should indeed be caring about it.
3. Thirdly, and rather unusually, you might just like the problem and not want to let go of it. I’m not sure I can help you with that one. (shrug)
This leaves the rest of the problems much easier to deal with. You can take them out one by one and sort them out. These are the ones you really care about and deserve your time. Hopefully they will turn into challenges and something you will wear with pride. Eventually. Just not on your shoulders or in your rucksack.
A word of warning. Some problems should not be shrugged. If you care a lot about them, then they must stay a bit longer. Just make sure they’re yours. Also if you shrug, then it sends out the message that you don’t care. I’m sure you can think of times when this is not the message you want to give. Opportunities can be lost that way, so use with care.
So there you are, daughter of mine. You now have your very own shrug. Treat it with care and use it wisely. Practise in the mirror. If you get good at it, then maybe I will show you the Gaelic shrug, but not until you have mastered this one.
Your loving mother
P.S. Sometimes it’s wise to do an invisible shrug. It can prevent upsetting others. The physical act of lifting your shoulders is the best way to shed the problem, but not everyone will be pleased to see you do it.
To find more letters and quilt blocks in this series, click here.