The Power of “Too”

Have you ever noticed that the more you struggle against becoming like someone else, the more like that person you become, anyway?

For me, it’s my mother. She was (especially in her later years) a great believer in the power of “too”— “it’s too hot…”, “it’s too cold…”, “it’s too loud…”, “it’s too…”. Like Goldilocks with the home of the 3 bears, my mother never could find anything just right.

Every visit was filled with the barbs from the power of “too”. If you suggested going out to lunch, even if you let her choose the restaurant, there was still no shortage of “toos” whose shiny points were aimed at you and anyone else who crossed her path. The soup was too cold; the salad greens too limp; the meat too tough; and the veggies too overcooked. As I said, nothing was ever just right.

Now, while I can do little about the fact that I look a lot like her (she was, after all, my mother), I struggle against becoming a follower of that deity “too”. So far, I have succeeded managing to maintain a more equitable viewpoint, a less sour outlook on life. At least I thought so, until last night.

Last night we were out with friends, and as we finished placing our orders with the wait person—does anyone else find that term awkward?—we were commenting on the amenities and the show we had just been to, and there out of my mouth I heard it…those dreaded words, in that dreaded tone that my mother always used, and I stopped speaking mid-whine.

Everyone at the table stared at me puzzled, and I gave them a sickly smile and waved them on to continue the conversation. As their words filled the spaces around me, my mind whirled. I had almost done it. I had almost said, “Yes, but it’s too noisy…”, when in fact, the place wasn’t really any noisier than any other time we’d been there. Also, the evening wasn’t worth destroying by becoming a copy of my mother.

I eventually joined back in to the conversations, but I never lost my guardedness. I don’t think anyone else noticed, but I know that I kept monitoring every word out of my mouth as I made sure there were no more “toos” waiting to escape.

It’s a learned behavior, I understand that. It’s a behavior that you grow up observing and hearing so repetitively that before you know it, it’s part of you, too. But I thought I had purged all of that long ago, all of those “learned behaviors”. So, it frightened me when I found out that some part of me had still held on to at least one of those learned patterns.

It makes me wonder just how many more of those learned behavior patterns are still lurking around waiting to pop out. So, now I have to be more diligent in monitoring myself when I speak. And once again, I need to inventory my behaviors and see if I can’t rid myself of those I don’t want. I especially want to rid myself of the power of “too”, because I do not want to be a worshipper at the altar of Never Satisfied.

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9 thoughts on “The Power of “Too”

  1. How very timely! I hung up from a phone call with my mother last night so completely disgusted with her chronic negativity. It makes the majority of conversations with her very unpleasant. Mind you, she wasn’t always this way. Age and time has had a very unpleasant affect on her. EVERYTHING IS DISGUSTING, AWFUL and basically wrong!

    When she said indignantly “that’s no kind of marriage!” talking about me and my husband I really got mad. Why? Because we don’t do everything together as she and my father have done (and which she resents, btw). She doesn’t even realize that she is hurting me–I know from her vantage point she is being “understanding” of how “awful” my life is! Do I really need this??

    I find it so sad that the woman I could turn to to discuss anything at one time, I cannot discuss much of anything without having to assert that her perspective is NOT mine, and to shake off 99% of what she says–something that is not very easy to do.

    I questioned whether she was always this way. I don’t believe so, but probably more so than I realized, only now its magnified 1000 fold. But then, I am finding it harder and harder to remember my Mom and Dad of my growing up years… truly another lifetime… sigh

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    1. It’s sad how in some people age seems to ascerbate their negativite attributes, yet with others it makes them more pleasant. I hope I end the latter, though I fear I’m becoming more the former 😉

      Your mother and mine seem to be of similar types in their ability to find our buttons and push them while thinking that they are doing us a favor or helping us to see things “their way”.

      I truly wish you luck with your parents; I know I didn’t find a balance with mine until after they were gone.

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  2. Thank you Tas. Like you, I am working to be mindful of my attitude at all times, as I do not want to become what I resist.

    I will say, there are occasions when cynicism has raised its head within me, but what I do in those rare occasions is to “be that” very consciously, very deliberately, and in fact in an exaggerated form, so as to exorcise these thoughts/feelings and move them “out,” so to speak.

    Best of luck to both of us 😉

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  3. I think you’re being too hard on yourself! 😀 🙂 I know what you mean.. the one that I’m guilty of is after getting good advice I say, “but the problem is….” = just let me vent! 🙂 Still, if you notice yourself doing something you’ll probably fade it out naturally. Thanks for writing, I really enjoyed it!

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  4. Are you aware that our brain cant figure out “no, don’t, please…don’t!”

    Try to not think now of a pink elephant in tutu!
    See!

    Self acceptance might start with allowing oneself to experience the own paradoxes.

    By the way, I doubt anybody beside you over empathised this “too” at the restaurant. Maybe you interpreted TOO much into it!

    Tried enjoying the “too” by a theatre singing overacting it up to his absurd apogee? Or would that be TOO “touching an holy word”?

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