Dear Ms. Erin,
Daesha used to be my best friend, but now she and the other girls in my class are so mean to me. They say things like, “Amani, you so fat you have to walk through the door sideways!”
Mama taught me to treat others like I want to be treated, so I never say mean things back. I just want to be nice to people and do my best in school, but it’s hard to concentrate on what the teacher is saying when the kids are so mean.
Sometimes I am mean to my own family after being nice to everyone else all day because I get so mad I just can’t take it anymore. What did you do when the kids were mean to you?
This phenomenon that you are asking about —the one where Daesha says mean things to you and then you go home and are mean to the people you love— that’s called being “out of The Vortex.”
The Vortex is the happy place that we all have inside us. When we are in it, we feel so good that it would never occur to us to be unkind to others.
The Vortex is also an essential part of the creation process. It helps you to get clear about which things you want to create more of in your life and which experiences you want to tune out all together. Because of Daesha’s unkindness, you wrote, “I just want to be nice to people and do my best in school.”
So in a way, Daesha did you a favor by helping you to get clear about your priorities. Now it’s just a matter of figuring out how to tune out her mean words so you can create the experiences that you want.
But first, let me answer your question.
I was little and kids were mean, I cried a whole lot. Just like you, I wanted to be a kind person and a good student, but instead of using my sadness as an opportunity to create what I wanted, I faked being sick in order to avoid going to school.
As a result, I created bad grades and sickness in my body for real. So rather than looking at what I did when I was little, maybe it makes more sense to talk about the things I do to help myself feel better now that I’m a grown-up.
One thing that helps me to feel better when people are acting mean is to realize that nobody wakes up and says, “I’m gonna be a big jerk today.” Not you, not Daesha…not even Justin Bieber when he threw those eggs at his neighbor’s house. Everyone is just doing his or her best to stay in The Vortex and sometimes we just plain fall out.
Case in point: when you leave school after a bad day, you try to go home and be happy. But when your mom innocently asks, “How was your day, Amani?” you wind up howling at her like a mad ol’ jackal because it feels better than talking about your crappy day.
It’s human nature for people to try and drag others along with them when they fall out of The Vortex. The good news is you don’t have to go along.
You might not be able to control how people treat you, but you can control how you feel about it, and I am going to teach you a super easy magic trick to help you out. Whenever you realize that you or someone around you is out of The Vortex, take a deep breath and say, “1…2…3…VOOM!!” as loud as you can.
For maximum effect, use your fingers while counting to three and be sure to point with your index finger like Hermione Granger yielding her magic wand when you drop the ”VOOM!”
I discovered this trick as a camp counselor years ago when hot, grouchy kids started being mean to their friends. The first time we tried it, they looked at me like I had lobsters growing out of my ears, but by summer’s end, all the kids were doing it because it helped them feel better instantly.
Thanks for your thoughtful letter, Amani. Always know that I am sending love and happy energy to you!