One of my favorite NLP Presuppositions is that everyone is doing the best that they can with the resources that they have available. In this post I will look at this presupposition in relation to my childhood and how my parents were doing the best they could at the time.
When I was a child like many others did, my parents used to make me eat my vegetables; I hated vegetables, I probably never met one I enjoyed until I was in my twenties. I didn’t realize at the time that I was making it worse for myself by pushing my food around my plate until it was cold and congealed, then my Dad would get mad and frustrated with me and force me to eat some of it, at this point the food really did taste disgusting, even if it started out ok.
This is meant as no disrespect to my Mum’s cooking; it’s a family joke that she puts the sprouts on the stove in October so they will be ready in time for Christmas dinner. She is of that generation who believe in cooking vegetables until any crunch has been completely eliminated. It took me years to get over my disgust at the thought of eating most veg and particularly sprouts, until later I learned that food could taste good if you cooked it differently. I know that many people go through something similar but in my case it was very extreme. I dreaded going to other people’s houses because I didn’t know what I might be forced to eat. I once took a trip with a friend and her family, my parents, who had clearly given up by this point, gave the family a list of food I was prepared to eat, which as I remember was fish fingers (fish-sticks) and chips (fries) and cheese sandwiches and of course any cakes or desserts. I also refused milk on my cereal, or gravy on my food or any kind of sauce on anything, what a brat! This behavior went all the way back to aged 4 years when I had my tonsils out and refused milk on my cornflakes in the hospital.
It has taken me a very long time to realize how selfish I was being by being so picky about my food. My parents were doing the very best they could with the resources available to them, the idea of me wasting my food on their very limited budget was unthinkable. In my child centric view of the world it seemed perfectly reasonable that my parents would cook me something entirely different to everyone else just because I wasn’t prepared to eat what was on offer.
As I began thinking about this recently I realized that I’d always thought about this in terms of my dad being strict and unbending. Of course I was not the first child to behave in this way and I did not have the maturity to understand any different. Could my parents have explained things better? Encouraged me more positively or coerced me? Possibly, but they also had another three children to deal with.
Now I have little more wisdom and maturity, I see that in many situations when someone is behaving in a way that makes us unhappy, it may not be because they are choosing to be mean, they are doing the best in the situation. We need to see the big picture and also sometimes look at ourselves. What could we do differently for a better outcome? Sometimes we need to behave as the adult and see things from another point of view.