Calling on your inner badass to step up to the plate

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Dine’ (Navajo) Chief Manuelito

In the seven years that I have been parenting, I have had a few less than proud moments.

Like the potato chip for dinner situation.

And the losing the birthday invitation that my 4-year old had been looking forward to all week, resulting in a missed party.

And, well, I don’t want to make this too long of a blog post. You get the idea.

But sometimes I have what could be construed as a not-so-proud moment with one of my kids that turns into something that is actually quite profound.

The potty mouth badass recognizing moment

The other day, I was driving Josh home from a play date, and he told me he was sad and frustrated at school sometimes.

“I walk up and introduce myself to kids  and they look at me like I am creepy. They say things like ‘only girls have long hair.’ I am browner than they are, and sometimes that makes me feel really different.”

As I listened to my baby boy say these words, I felt rage rise in my chest.

“Son,” I said, “You are a beautiful and precious young man. If you ever hear someone say something that is clearly not true, you need to straighten your chin, look them in the eye and say directly: “I am Joshua Slim. I am Native American and proud. ASSHOLE!”

<Insert sound of screeching tires>.

I couldn’t believe that I had actually vocalized that last word in my head.

Josh started laughing hysterically. “MOM! You said ASSHOLE!”

I bowed my head in shame. “I know son, I did. The reason I said it is because I was feeling lots of anger. That is not an appropriate thing to say to anyone, but especially not to someone on the playground.”

<As I silently prayed I would not be receiving a call from the school principal next week>.

But then I had to laugh too. Hard. Josh and I had tears rolling down our faces.

I noticed that Josh’s entire energy about the situation had changed. Not because he was suddenly going to become a profanity-using bully on the playground (I hope), but because he had tapped into his inner badass.

Get your boot off my neck

Sometimes, you face real, intense, hostile energy.

When you get older, you realize that this actually has nothing to do with you, it is just the other person projecting their own stuff on you. (Don Miguel Ruiz breaks this down brilliantly in The Four Agreements).

When you feel yourself shrinking, call up a person or phrase to help shift the energy and claim your authority.

Samuel Jackson comes to mind.

Or Mae West.

Or Geronimo.

Get your boot off my neck!” is handy.

Or, said with great righteous indignation, “Do you know who I AM?

My martial art and coach friends who are Jedi Knight Masters when it comes to working with energy will tell you that when you learn how to project the right energy, words aren’t even necessary.

The point is when you temporarily forget who you are, sometimes a little bit of inappropriate badass thinking is just what you need.

That is a lesson I am proud to share with my son.

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31 Responses to “Calling on your inner badass to step up to the plate”

  1. […] Pam Slim, author of Escape from Cubicle Nation, shares some great advice that she gave to her son, who was being picked on at school at the time. She calls it tapping into your inner badass: […]

  2. […] you don’t know of Pamela Slim, she is the author of Escape from Cubicle Nation. I recently read a post on her blog about this very thing which included her brillantly articulated […]

  3. […] Calling on your inner badass to step up to the plate ( […]

  4. […] your boot off my neck” Posted on June 14, 2012 | Leave a comment Read this post by Pam Slim if you need some clarity on deploying your inner Hulk judiciously. Spread The […]

  5. Poopsy says:

    Hi Pam,
    This story made my day. I so needed to hear it. Although I enjoy and have a broad repertoire of badass words, I mostly resonated with not being able to project my power for the past few weeks at work. I needed to be reminded. Thank you.

    After not reading your blog and not doing anything after I took a workshop with you a couple of years ago, I am ready now to get back on track of escaping my cubicle…

    with much appreciation and gratitude

  6. Carol Gunby says:

    Way to go…tapping into one’s inner badass (and bringing it outer when needed) is a most crucial skill. Your son’s lucky to be learning it so young. 🙂

    Your line near the end also made me think of Merlin Mann’s quote: “We procrastinate when we’ve forgotten who we are.” —something I’ve often found to be true.

  7. Pam says:

    Great story Pam, quite the bonding moment with your son, I’m sure he will remember it always 🙂

  8. Astra Spider says:

    Lovely article – Thank you Pam!

  9. […] a parenting and life lesson from Pam Slim – Calling on your inner badass to step up to the plate – This one is not cycling or camping related, but it still a good read, and it reminds us […]

  10. This just empowered the hell outta me.

  11. LOVE it! Thanks for sharing this moment. I love how badassery can really lighten up a situation!

  12. Lawrence Fox says:

    Both the spousal overunit and I enjoyed your post.

    I’m sure that many times in your consulting/coaching career that there’s been times when you’ve had that exciting time when a “teaching moment” flows both ways–but it’s been between adults. It always amazes me when it happens between me and my son (who is now 11, but his taught ME so much over the past 10 years). (He regularly (verbally) slaps my wrists with a “you’re setting a bad example” when words like “asshole” slip out (especially when I’m driving!)).

    I do like your suggestion about channeling your inner badass and and the role models you suggest (and I suppose we all could come up with a few of our own–that might be an interesting challenge/blog post some day!), but I do have a bit a quibble with the “who do you thing I am” response. Heck, more than a quibble!

    The only times that I’ve it directed at me is by arrogant, self-centered individuals who have been trying to bully or intimidate me. (My response has been, “No I don’t and don’t give a hoot, even if you show me your Amex card”).

    So, I prefer a line used by one of my mentors “Sir (or Ma’am), I’m afraid that you’ve picked on the wrong guy* to piss off today”. (*substitute “gal”, “employee”, “person”, “member”, “taxpayer” etc as necessary).

    Just my 2cents worth!



  13. Therese says:

    “When you temporarily forget who you are, sometimes a little bit of inappropriate badass thinking is just what you need.”


    HELL YES! 🙂

  14. Shannon says:

    I have a 7-year old son, too. I can imagine advising him to say a bad word like that! We’d have a very similar situation as you and your son.

  15. It made me laugh out loud when you said “Do you know who I AM?”
    I’m imagining me saying that at a networking event after handing someone my quirky business card and the look of “Ummm – okay?” on their face…They hand it back. Make a remark to the tune of “You’re weird.”

    I rise up out of my tentative posture, straighten my spine, push my shoulders back, lift my chin, look them in the eye with a scathing gaze and sternly *declare*,

    “Do you know who I AM?!?”

    Hilarious! ^__^

    Thanks for sharing this, Pam!

  16. My son wore long hair for many years. Strangers mistook him for a girl occasionally. I learned a lot from watching the way he handled it, “Good thing I’m not confused about who I am. :)” He’s always joking.

    I like the idea of channeling my inner bad-ass. A little fire in my belly will help me know, like my son, that knowing who I am is the thing that matters.

    And laughter. That helps everything.

  17. faisal says:

    Parenting can be difficult but sometimes it does take away the pressure of business and relieves your mind. A touching story Pam 😉

  18. Kit Brown-Hoekstra says:

    First, I second your statement about Josh being a beautiful and powerful young man; it comes through in the pics you post and the stories you tell. Second, thanks for a great way to stand up to bullies.

    This also reminds me of a story. I grew up on Ft Belknap(1967-1976), and remember that we were in town one day when I was about 4-5 getting groceries, and I saw these people with long blond hair. I thought they were girls until they turned around and one of them had a beard. It freaked me out and I told my mom that I thought it was weird because only Native American guys were supposed to have long hair–I’d never seen a white guy with long hair before…Obviously, I know better now…;->

    So, Josh, know that when people say things because you look different from them, it usually because of ignorance. You have the power of truth and knowledge on your side. Your mom is a very wise woman to teach you to use your power in positive ways.

  19. Erin says:

    Thanks for this. My daughter is the same age as your son and has motor tics that sometimes look a little funny to other kids, so we’ve had some interesting conversations. I’m always trying to think of ways to teach her to stand up for herself in the right way… I like the image of the inner badass – need to find mine and exemplify it for her!

  20. Teresa says:

    I’m a new fan of yours and really enjoyed this post.

    Thank you for your honesty and humor. I think most parents have slipped a few times with potty mouth. It’s wonderful how you modeled the learning and turned it into a powerful experience for your son. I bet he’s proud of you too 🙂

    I love the idea of learning the right energy so words aren’t even necessary.
    I will definitely share this post, and thank you again.
    All best!

    • Pamela says:

      It is lovely to meet you Teresa, welcome to the blog!

      Yes, I think we both gained respect for each other with this bonding moment.

      And I agree, learning about how to use your energy to set boundaries (and demonstrate clarity and pride) is so intriguing.

  21. Pamela says:

    Phew. 🙂

  22. Sonia Simone says:

    Laughing. We’ve had this moment, too.

  23. Heidi says:

    I LOVE this! What strikes me as truly powerful is the transformation in your son from sad and hurt to laughing and powerful. While I don’t think he’s likely to actually use the word ‘Asshole’ when standing up for himself, I imagine he’ll remember that moment, and call on the power and joy it created. That happy, powerful energy will go a long way towards backing his message 🙂

    Way to go Pam! We can all just pretend you did that on purpose 😉

    • Pamela says:

      Yes Heidi! The humor/power combination is what really got me too. We were both laughing so hard, and the connection at that moment was priceless. I think we will both always remember it.

  24. Lisa-Marie says:

    I love this Pam! I am going to have a conversation tonight with Em about finding her inner bad-ass.

    • Pamela says:

      I think you are clearly raising a girl with massive inner-badassitude, and I love you for it. 🙂

  25. Antonia Lo Giudice says:

    Hilarious!!! Having ten nieces and nephews, I can certainly relate:)

    I have met one of the most extraordinary people during my stay in Buenos Aires. Igon, a 78 year old man, who has been in the theatre of Mime, since an early age, today still teaches Mime in the school he founded about 20 years ago. I learned so much from this man about the energy within. Igon believes that we are all sources of energy experimenting with a body.

    He worked beside Marcel Marceau in Paris. Igon describes Marcel as someone who was able to communicate in silence a lot more than any words can say.

  26. This is such a funny story! I’d have paid to see that go down. The tongue slip paid off in what sounds like some raised self-esteem and self-realization for Josh that will only make him stronger. Way to go!

    • Pamela says:

      So glad you enjoyed it Albert. A tiny bit of potty mouth adds character to a young man, don’t you think?