One of my father’s favorite sayings was: “You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” As a teenager, I wondered why anyone would want a silk purse and who would be so sadistic that they would think of using a sow’s ear to make a purse in the first place.
I did know one thing though; it was not a compliment. When he used the phrase, it had finality to it. When he was disgusted with my behavior, he would turn to my mother and proclaim: “Well, Peg, you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.” End of discussion. Dismissed. Erased. Banished to the land where useless sow’s ears go.
In retrospect, that statement has had a profound influence on me. Oh, the sow’s ears I have known.
Despite the evidence, I would staunchly maintain that the person or situation that I was involved with could, or would, or should, any minute now, show up as a silk purse. All that was needed was a little more caring, effort, commitment, concern and energy and then everything would be wonderful.
A little moisturizer and that sow’s ear would be shimmering like silk in no time.
I would negate my intuition and stay too long in situations that were less than nurturing or life giving and hold on to the naive and misguided notion that I could change another person. As I look back, the motivation was actually an unconscious attempt to cheerlead someone else into taking the risks, responsibilities and growth steps I wanted to take for myself.
Since I had been compared to a sow’s ear and knew how terrible it felt, I never wanted to give up on anyone. I would decide instead that I would simply help to develop their hidden potential with or without their permission.
Now, what is my point in telling you about this flash from my past?
It is to invite you to check in and see if you are wasting any of your present life energy trying to ignore, sugarcoat or dress up damaging situations instead of taking responsibility and authority for your own life. Here are some questions that may assist you to pinpoint areas where you may be wasting energy.
Are you habitually disappointed with your interactions with others? If so, why? Are you frustrated or confused about the way a person who is important to you is treating you but you keep making excuses for their behavior?
Do you repeatedly enter into business deals or personal relationships that are difficult, hard and problematic? Does it feel like you are in a three-legged race with a partner who refuses to move in tandem but you insist on dragging him or her kicking and screaming to the finish line?
Assess your particular situation and tell yourself the truth. That is the first step.
Kindly but firmly acknowledge that it is your discomfort and therefore it is your responsibility to make the necessary changes to satisfy yourself.
When you find yourself seduced into thinking your way is the only correct way, evaluate your motives. Are you trying to force, coerce or manipulate someone into changing their behavior, for their own good? Remember that no one sets aside their old ways to seek the new unless and until they personally feel the need for it.
If, after your assessment of the situation, you discover that you have been trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear, here is another worthwhile slogan you might want to ponder.
“Don’t try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.”
Susan is a local writer and author of “Beyond Intellect: Journey Into the Wisdom of Your Intuitive Mind.” Reach her at: susanvelasquez.com