What Is Kindness?
What made you think of them? Was it their attitude? Their disposition? Their actions?
How do you define or identify kindness, personally?
This week, some co-workers and I were treated unkindly by a supervisor. The statement he made was so abrupt that it shocked me a bit at first, but it made me really start to think about why we choose unkindness in our interactions with one another.
It’s easy to criticize and condemn others as unkind. It is easy to make assumptions about a person’s intent and motivations, but what about the unkindness we express toward ourselves? What about the subtle unkindness that we inflict upon others?
We set up a construct of “right and wrong” in order to give ourselves a measure against which to justify our entitlement to be unkind. If someone is wrong, then you are justified in–no, even obligated to–call them out.
Where does the insane need to be right come from, if not the darkest corner of the ego’s narcissistic drive for validation and sustenance? It is a true insanity. It is an abdication of the natural mind of peace and stillness.
The fight of right and wrong can never be won, yet we fight it generation after generation. We give our lives, our fortunes and even our happiness for it. Insane!
Kindness is Giving Up the Need to Make Others Wrong
The same is even more true for ourselves. Kindness can only come from an overflow of kindness first to one’s self. Kindness toward yourself starts when you give up the need to make yourself wrong.
You liberate your soul when you surrender the need to shame, guilt and persecute yourself into a behavior or way of being that is judged “right” by yourself or others. Then you return to your right mind. Then you are truly free.
Only then can you allow yourself to express kindness to others, because you have completely released yourself from the confines of guilt and shame. These shackles define you and limit you as long as you allow them power over your life.
No one can manipulate you with shame unless you agree with them that you are guilty.
We like to project our shame onto others by insisting that they have shamed, guilted or humiliated us, but shame and guilt happen within you. Once you agree that you deserve to be called out, coerced or manipulated, then you imprison yourself.
Why are so quick to use unkindness as a tool to coerce and malign one another? How does it serve us?
The logical, “knee-jerk” response is, It doesn’t. But that is not how we live. It must serve us in some way or we would not continue to violate ourselves in such a way. Now you may think that what I refer to as subtle unkindness is necessary.
Employees must obey the boss (especially if you’re the boss!).
Children must obey their parents (we say it’s for their own good).
Your spouse or partner ought to….you fill in the blank.
We believe the lies that coercion, sweetened with honey, is loving, caring and even kind. Coercion is violence against the soul.
Jesus taught us that whatever we do to others we have done to ourselves when he said what you have done for the least of these, you have done to me.
Also, when he said, I don’t condemn you either. Go and don’t sin anymore, he was simply saying, “I won’t judge you. Go and don’t violate your soul’s integrity.”
We–each of us–are our own most critical judge. We condemn ourselves through the actions we take, the agreements we make and the ways in which we allow others to step over our boundaries without regard to our sacred soul’s right to be whole and at peace.
We violate our soul’s precious integrity when we choose to believe that someone else’s desires, wishes and intentions are more important to our welfare than our own. Your intention and purpose is the ultimate reason for being. If you disregard or discount your purpose, then you violate the integrity of the soul.
We Are Unkind Because We Fear
This is the answer to it all–why are we unkind?
We are afraid.
We choose unkindness because we have forgotten that we are love. Perfect love casts out fear.
You choose control over uncertainty. You choose to be right over being at peace. You see, it’s not really about right over wrong. It’s not you versus them. It is about peace. Are you willing to be at peace–not with others–but with your own soul?
If you are willing to be at peace with your soul, then you are untouchable. No one can shake the foundations of the soul because that is the point at which we all remember that we are connected to one another. We are not separate beings, but separate expressions of the same Divine Love that created us all.
Kindness May Mean Living in Discomfort
You may try to avoid discomfort by stepping into force. Whenever you force someone to comply, you feel a false sense of strength. I would argue, though, that this is the place of greatest weakness.
Those who believe themselves to be most strong are often the most lost and hurting because they have chosen to disregard the peace of their own souls in favor of the fool’s gold of certainty.
Certainty is only fear masquerading as strength.
Certainty is dangerous because it allows us to believe the lies we tell ourselves. It allows us to believe in stability and believe that we are in control. It allows us to disconnect our consciousness from the flow of the energy of life. These are all merely shadows of the ego.
Embrace discomfort, for it reminds you that you are present. It’s hard to avoid the present-moment reality when you are uncomfortable. If you don’t medicate, distract from or avoid discomfort, it can be a powerful experience of peace in the middle of the storm of whatever is happening in your life.
When you are able to sit down in the center of your discomfort and feel it–every moment and every uncomfortable pang–then you have true power. You will realize that even in the middle of crazy upheaval, you are at peace. Peace is power.
The Bible tells us to be kind to one another.
It comes down to this. Kindness to yourself is the way to peace. When you are truly kind to yourself, then the power of others over you is drained away like a sudden rain gush down a sewer drain.
Kindness is the way to sanity. Kindness is the way to yourself. Kindness is the way to find and love God in every face you see.
Kindness is the key.
Photo 1 Credit: Medo