I’ll huff, and I’ll puff. . .

We spend our younger childhoods immersed in fairytales and fables: stories of princesses waiting for princes, fairy godmothers making everything sparkle and more, and then there are their nemeses: the witches, the monsters,and the big bad wolves! 

Instead of trusting our fairy godmother was hiding in the wardrobe keeping watch: we were sure there was a monster! Why did we not put faith in the fairy godmother being there instead? But, we continually were relieved with the happy ever afters like when the big bad wolf huffed and puffed but he couldn’t blow down the third piggies house. Phew! And you wonder why doesn’t that big bad wolf just leave the pigs in peace in the first place? 

And then we get older and we confirm there are no monsters so we can craft our journey to our very own happy ever after. 

Our fairytale and fable diet conditioned us to believe: good shall win over evil, and if we are good, well we can only attract good. I went as a child to a type of Sunday (fun) school so on top of my fairytale  collection, there were a heap load of parables so I was doubly certain: the good, kind, hardworking person not only wins in life but he or she can actually change the world as well. Along with going to the ball of course! 

No, there are no monsters as we imagined as a child but there are those that sometimes choose to be what the big bad wolf stood for in stories. The wolf represents fear, anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority and ego. The other stands for joy, peace, love, hope, sharing, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, friendship, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion and faith. I think maybe this should have probably been explained a bit better to us as children. Then we would have grown up with explanatory language like ‘Oh, he or she is just arrogant or angry or envious…’ Explaining never excuses bad behaviour but it softens the edges of what often feels like razor sharp hurt. Most of us ‘get this’ as adults: we understand that anger is usually a secondary unexpressed emotion, that when people hurt us, it’s because they are hurting. It seems easier to be angry for some of us rather than just say, what’s really going on!

A lovely girl shared with me a few days ago, ‘hurt people, hurt people’. We would have been spared so much confusion, and bawling energy as kids asking ‘why are people so mean…?’ if someone had just gifted us these very basic psychological life lessons.

Whilst we have debunked the monster under the bed or in the wardrobe, there is another type: we hear about them everyday. We can go through life doing all the right things, and they can invite themselves into our worlds. They are the ‘monsters’, or ‘big bad wolves’ we co-exist with every day. They cause terrible suffering and they often huff and puff trying to ‘bring down’ our  ‘houses’.  They project, they transfer, they control, they demand and take excessively, and they gaslight. 

But there is way more good than evil in this world. Without even realising it, everyday we throw out ‘nets of kindness’ with words, with actions, to make the world a better place or even to catch someone ‘before they fall’. We do acts of kindness, we donate, we volunteer, we try…. Being kind is like leaves to trees: natural.  But it takes a huge ‘eraser’ of kind people to try undo even one act of badness or evil. It’s like ‘the ink of hate’ is darker, harder to ignore, harder to erase: it imprints deeply on our minds and our hearts. It’s up to us to not let these acts or words permanently mark us. Resilience is the ‘water off a duck’s back!’ we need to build and build. It’s that emotional muscle that doesn’t require pumping iron, it requires naming bad behaviour for what it is, not blaming ourselves, and managing the effect of it with boundaries and other self-care. 

I think it’s best to tell children when old enough: there are people who act like monsters for all sorts of reasons: they are hurting, they need to protect a way of life that you might threaten, they are not well, unhappy, jealous or a host of other reasons, but they have to be resilient, and turn towards their own tribe/s when they can’t cope with them on their own. There is strength in togetherness after all. 

The pigs in the end were smart. But pigs are…yes, they are. 

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