When I was younger I was often teased by family and friends as I am sure we all have! According to the article segmented below, this is not a bad thing and helps us to develop socially (although at the time it felt like having your undies pulled over your head in public!). Today, as an adult, I am still faced with people (usually ignorant about my chosen path) passing snide comments, joking about my flexibility, diet or quiet, demeanor.
The other evening one of my younger students came up after class, spurred on by his friend, to ask a question: “What do you do when people tease you about practising Yoga?” I must admit I was taken by surprise at first, but the question was a genuine plea for some sort of answer. I also know from my own experience, especially when you are just starting to explore something new, we question if it is worth while to stick to it, or maybe it’s easier for everyone if you just do things the way you always have. Three little words I think answers the question:
LEAD BY EXAMPLE
… and remember why. When you live your life from a place of honesty and truth you might find that, while at first people don’t know how to engage with you (or what to cook you for dinner when you visit) and may react by teasing, the more they are exposed (however subtly) to your style of living, and observe the benefits you receive in your life, they start to question their own. If they start to see a change in you for the better they may start to question the value of what you are doing and try it for themselves! It is by far one of the best gifts you can offer someone else – leading by example.
This said, with great power comes great responsibilty (Spiderman said it too!). If you are going to lead by example, don’t compromise your integrity, your honesty, or your self worth. Say what you mean and mean what you say. If you eat fish sometimes – you are not a vegetarian. If you don’t practice meditation daily – don’t say that you do. Don’t be afraid to admit to liking Bryan Adams and Rage Against the Machine in the same breath! It’s the little things that make the difference. None of us are perfect. Regardless of how far along your path you are there are always pot holes! Accept that and don’t be shy to admit it! Make sure the example you lead by is not with an iron fist of “I am always right. Everything I do is the only way.” Let people discover their own way. You are simply opening the door, it’s up to them to choose which way they go from there.
Admittidly my answer to my students question is not a quick fix. It takes guts and balls to stand up for what you believe to be the truth much more than to retort sarcastically, or punch them in the gut. Nobody said that living authentically would be easy – but it’s definitely worth a try!
“Teasing vs. Bullying
Teasing is misunderstood because it is often confused with bullying, which has a strictly negative impact. The way to distinguish between the two is by the intent. The goal of teasing is to create closer relationships and make connections. The goal of bullying is to harm. Teasing turns into bullying when kids use it to gain greater social status. David Nelson, associate professor of human development at Brigham Young University, has found that even 4- and 5-year-olds will bully to increase their social power.
Of course, even the most positive teasing turns sour if it goes too far. To determine whether the teasing is positive or not, it’s essential to look at context. For example, if kids joke about a child’s shoes, that’s different from focusing on something much harder to control, such as being overweight. Also, says Keltner, “Teasing a kid behind a gym out of sight is dangerous, whereas teasing in front of a group of friends is less threatening.”
The line between teasing and bullying blurs again when the child being teased doesn’t know how to respond. “Everyone has a different set of personal boundaries,” says Rosalind Wiseman, author of Queen Bees and Wannabes, “and that’s confusing for kids.” But, she says, if a child overreacts or withdraws in response to teasing, she may lose out on important social experiences.”
Taken from http://www2.scholastic.com Just Teasing article.