When I was a kid, my mom regularly told me the story about the “boy who cried wolf.” It’s one of Aesop’s Fables whose moral lesson is to teach kids about the negative consequences of lying and exaggerating. “Do that too much and no one will believe you,” she said.
After awhile I began to internalize the lesson so that any time I felt anything, I kept quiet instead of expressing myself. The lesson made me completely confused. How was I to know whether my emotions were genuine or like my mom believed, an exaggeration purely to seek attention?
I wish I had these posts to read back then. It made me realize that any sense of disconnection I had with my feelings was the result of this early lesson. But it wasn’t about whether I was trying to get attention. It wasn’t about lying or bad behavior. The lesson taught me less about my own deficiencies and more about what was considered “correct” and “acceptable” behavior.
Maybe I exaggerated as a kid. But there is a reason why kids lie and exaggerate just like there is a reason why loved ones say they are in pain, depressed or seek your help. The solution isn’t always to ignore bad behavior, tell others to “get over it” and silence it with a fable. The key is to have the patience, understanding and curiosity to seek out why it existed in the first place.