Your name and you

Daily Word Press Post Prompt: Do you know the meaning of your name? When  I gave a training, my main ice breaker was a Name Game. Here is that exercise reduced to one page

What is the story of your name?

emotional fitness tHOUGHTS AND TIPS

Whenever a foster child came to live with us, I always asked, “What do you want us to call you?”  Some assigned themselves totally new names.  To me that was a clue of deep unhappiness with who they were.

Now to counter that idea,  I was not deeply unhappy with who I was when I was called Vaughan. (Note it isn’t even the usual spelling so 99 times out of a 100 if used by someone it is mis-spelled.)  I had some self-esteem problems, as would be said by many today, but I also had and have a strong “I’m Okay” part of my being. Still,  I did want not want to be called Vaughan in my early adulthood.  I yearned to be called Kate or Katie. That has never happened.

Once I moved out of my childhood home, I was called Kathy, assigned at graduate school’s orientation;  then Chrysanthemum, David’s pet name for me; next Dahlia my Hebrew name, derived from Chrysanthemum; Katherine, when I decided Kathy was too little girlish;  and Kat as I sign myself in many emails. Finally, I had hoped to be called Grannykat by my grands, but Grandma seems to be winning.

Rodney Dangerfield would say about my wannabe name(s), “I get no respect.”

Not true,or it doesn’t feel that way to me.  Why not? Mainly because my name is only part of who I am; what you call me is not me.  As noted in my “Call me anything but late for dinner, dessert, and chocolate” quote,  I answer to many things.  Not nasty names, but almost anything else you send my way in an effort to tell me you have something to say to me.

You are not the name anyone calls you. Taking offence when called a name gives the name caller power.  Moreover, name-callers are weak, sad, or, as my mother would say, ignoramuses.  Oops that is a name.  

However, it is unacceptable behavior and does need countering. What to do?  The following strategy works  for me: Giving the name caller any number of looks: amused, pitying, disgusted, annoyed, then changing the subject; gently saying “I’m disappointed hearing those words coming out of your mouth. I thought better of you.” In some situations a slightly angry, “Watch your mouth” serves.

At the same time,the response should match  the offense.  We fined our foster children and had them go to their rooms until able to apologize. Moreover,  I do not approve of people being pilloried for a past offence. One punishment is enough for each offense.

Of course, the most extreme response  has been the killing of  political cartoonists.   If politicians cannot take being laughed at, they will quickly become tyrants.  A sense of humor that includes being able to laugh at yourself is a sign of emotional health. No one should die over name calling.  In fact no one should be assaulted or even sued  for only calling a name. 

stay strong

Remember what matters most is The Mission and that means trying to make your part of the world a bit kinder for all you meet.  Don’t call names; don’t accept name calling, but also make the punishment fit the crime. A name is not the same as a knife to your heart, unless you make it so.

Katherine

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4 Comments

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