As promised I spent the last week thinking about Kindness. How it relates to how I treat myself, how we treat each other and what can I do to get more if it.
Interestingly, I began the week actually thinking about ‘unkindness’. I started thinking about people in my life who I might describe as ‘kind’, but my first thought following was inevitably ‘well there was that one time they were kind of a jerk.’ Apparently I needed to clear out some cobwebs before I could focus on the good stuff (and sorry, unnamed friends – you’re totally nice and I *heart* you). But this lead me down an eye-opening road:
- That sometimes receiving kindness from others can be difficult. People (me) resist it, refuse it, deny it. As if an act of kindness is a recognition of weakness. It can make you feel like you’re being placated, it can make you feel overwhelmed, it can make you feel vulnerable. So it should follow that…
- Giving myself kindness can be difficult. Maybe I don’t always think I deserve it Maybe I think I need tough love. Perhaps I resist it, refuse it and deny it. I know I confuse it sometimes with other things…to be discussed later with more clarity.
- But true kindness comes only from a place of love. Being given true kindness means that someone sees you, thinks of you, cares about you. Even strangers can do those things. But can we do those things for ourselves?
Cheryl Strayed in her writing as advice columnist “Dear Sugar” describes the mean little voice inside each of us as the “invisible, inner, terrible someone.” We all have one. The one that whispers awful hateful things just below your awareness so we barely know it’s happening. But some part of us hears it or knows it’s there. I recently heard my terrible someone say, “You’re an idiot” to me as I walked into a room. Nothing had even happened. I hadn’t done a thing but walk in a room. My “invisible, inner, terrible someone” is a serious asshole. I say things to myself I would never say to another person who I loved. Things I don’t even believe are true. No one I love has every said these things to me. But my IITS will say it. And she/he/it needs to be silenced.
Kind folks stick up for the bullied, right? If I could get my “invisible, inner, big-hearted someone” to raise her voice, perhaps my inner bully could be quieted down.
When I want to show kindness towards another I share with them the things I like or appreciate about them, I show up when I’m needed or try to anticipate a need, I encourage and support. I smile and look you straight in the eye.
SO…when I want to show kindness to myself I think that must mean that I must tell myself the things I like and appreciate about myself, I need to anticipate my needs and fill them, I need to encourage myself and seek support when I need it. It is asking yourself/myself “Are you ok? What do you need? What can I do?” I need to smile and look myself in the eye
I’ve been practicing these things. I forget, then I remember and I try to do better. For me that is the practice. Sometimes when I ask myself the question, “Are you being kind to yourself in this moment?” I honestly don’t know the answer. I think in those moments of doubt the answer is probably ‘no, hon. that is not kindness’ And then I try again.
On to Forgiveness. Asking for it and granting it…to myself. weird. we’ll see how it goes.