“I’m unhappy with your attitude today!” My mother said those words with a stern expression every time she was dissatisfied with my behavior—which was often.
This scene played out repeatedly and I found it unbearable.
It made me not want to talk to my mother or even go near her for the rest of the day. In my childish way, I would respond with disgruntlement and a bad attitude, showing indifference and becoming even more stubborn.
I am now 15 years old and when I think back, I realize how much I’ve changed.
I used to complain in my mind that my parents never put themselves in my shoes. Now I see things from a different perspective, and that has calmed the relentless family conflicts. My mother never speaks to me in that way anymore now.
I consider this a profound change and I owe it to following the advice contained in a very special book that my cousin gave me.
I know that parents’ scolding and even yelling goes on every day in many households. When I hear other young people complaining about their parents or read stories of children’s bad behavior, my heart stirs with empathy.
So I share my story here in hopes that others can also see their parents and themselves in a new light, which can help bring more peace into their family life.
Back in Time
Growing up, I always felt that my parents were too strict and did not understand me. I often felt choked under their rigid supervision and exhausting demands.
Who were you with? What did you do? Where did you go? When will you be home? These never-ending questions seemed to be programmed into their brains.
If I wanted to go somewhere a bit farther from my house, my parents would try to convince me to stay home and not go out at all.
If I got home just a little bit late, I dreaded the barrage of questions waiting for me the minute I got in the door.
I was scolded countless times for doing this or that wrong and repeatedly reminded of my poor behavior and disobedience, even if something was my younger sister’s fault.
It got to the point that every time this happened, I put up a wall. It made me feel hurt, angry, and depressed beyond belief.
A Turning Point
I never expected that my miserable relationship with my parents would ever change, until one day my cousin introduced me to a book called Zhuan Falun.
What moved me was the profound principles it taught about how to truly be a good person, how to look inside myself for answers, how it is my own thoughts and attitude that influence what happens around me.
Those principles—Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance—are as simple as being honest, kind, and tolerant when we interact with other people.
They are the central principles of Falun Dafa, also called Falun Gong, a traditional Chinese self-improvement system for the mind and body.
Along with reading Zhuan Falun, which is the main book of teachings, adherents practice four slow-moving qigong exercises and a sitting meditation, all of which help calm the mind, relieve stress, and strengthen energy levels.
The exercises and meditation are easy to learn and do. On the other hand, the guiding principles for improving one’s moral character can be simple or hard to follow depending on what stubborn habits and attitudes one has developed over his or her lifetime.
For me, it’s the letting go of bad habits and unkind attitudes that’s the most challenging.
It’s not an easy path to follow, to stay calm and unaffected or even happy and grateful in front of relatives, teachers, and friends if someone finds fault with me. But it’s a true and beneficial path that I’m determined to walk.
Walking a True Path
Walking my true path continues to be a process of looking inward and of valuing and finding my true self, knowing that Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance are my true nature.
Bad thoughts, however, still find their way into my mind sometimes.
I still sometimes cry silently when my parents get angry and say things that I find rude or excessive. I still sometimes feel choked by their strictness. I still sometimes complain to my friends about my parents.
Sometimes, I wish I could grow up more quickly so that I can be free and do whatever I want.
However, the important thing is that I keep reminding myself that I am a practitioner of Falun Dafa determinedly following the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
Seeing Myself and My Parents in a New Way
Falun Dafa teaches adherents to always consider others first, rather than being self-centered and focusing only on their own wants or needs.
It also teaches taking the high road: If one is kind to me, I will be kind back. If one is unkind to me, I am still kind back.
I started to ask myself new questions: Is what I am about to do kind and helpful? Is what I am about to say true? Am I considering the other person first? What if I put myself in their shoes?
I gradually realized how my past attitude had contributed a great deal to the conflicts within my family.
In the past, I always wanted my parents to put themselves in my place, but never thought about putting myself in their place. I always expected others to change their minds or behaviours, but never considered that I might be the one who should change. When I was criticized or scolded, I behaved even more badly.
I’ve heard since early childhood that when I grow up and become a parent, I will understand. And then I will regret my bad behavior and shallow understanding of my parents.
I ask myself, why not put myself in my parents’ shoes and try to understand them now, so as to not to have regrets in the future? If I feel that I have been scolded or criticized unjustly, what might have contributed to it on my part? Or what can I take away from it to become a better person?
These questions help me improve myself continuously as I walk my path toward fulfilling my wish of assimilating to the principles of Truthfulness, Compassion, and Forbearance.
I hope this approach can also help other young people see themselves and their parents in a new way, so as to ease their conflicts and open their world to enjoying a more harmonious family life and a bright future.
Thien Nhi lives with her family in Vietnam.
Falun Dafa is a cultivation practice of mind and body that teaches truthfulness, compassion, and tolerance as a way to improve health and moral character and attain spiritual wisdom.
For more information about the practice, visit www.falundafa.org. All books, exercise music, resources, and instructions are available free of charge.