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This is something I learned when I was a kid but didn't understand until I was grown-up.

I come from a long line of mean people.

Each generation passing cruelty up the family tree.  As time moves forward, I imagine our meanness fading and our family tree branches spreading wider while we soak up more knowledge, more empathy and more compassion.

I don't know where all this meanness came from, I only know that it is part of the concoction that makes me, me.  

As a seven-year-old little girl, I was terrorized by the meanness.  When you're a kid and someone is cruel to you, there is no level of understanding.  Could it really be because I couldn't find my shoes?  The panicked pace of my little heart mirrored that confusion and I lived in a world of anxiety.

By the time I was 10, I began to flirt with the idea that it might be my fault.  This thought spattered itself throughout my tween years.  Maybe if I found my shoes I would deserve kindness?  Maybe if I did everything right?  Maybe if I was different?  Maybe if I didn't exist?  Maybe if...?

Self-preservation is an fascinating concept.

Do you remember the climber (Aron Ralston) who got trapped in a canyon and cut of his own arm off to save his life?  Unimaginable!  And, I think I've heard a million stories of wolves and tigers and mice chewing their legs in half to free them from a trap.

At an age where most of our brain goes haywire and we make lousy choices and care nothing for consequences, I found myself settling at least one positive neuron path.  I began to trim and cut out the notion that people are mean because of some real or imagined set of flaws in myself.  If I listened to that lie it would cripple me.

So, with that, was born this fundamental piece to my self-preservation:

People aren't mean to you because of you, 
they are mean because of themselves.

If you have been neglected, abused, bullied or treated poorly and believe it's your fault, get out your scissors this weekend, because I would love to see you trim and cut that crippling lie from your life.