What does kindness mean to you?
When I reflect back on times when I thought I was being ‘kind’, and doing what was ‘good’ or ‘right’ (part of the Wikipedia definition), I have to ask myself: good or right by whom?
Kindness starts at home. It’s about being true to our own feelings and values, and expressing this to other people so our feelings and values get an airing, and so those people know where they stand with us.
Kindness isn’t lending someone money when you know they’re going to spend it on drugs, alcohol, or rack up more debt.
Kindness is telling them you’re not going to lend them money and doing what you reasonably can to support them through their journey.
Kindness isn’t heaping holier-than-thou judgement on someone in that situation.
Kindness is finding compassion and understanding for where they’re at, while maintaining your own boundaries and respecting your own needs.
Kindness is telling someone when we feel upset with something they said or did.
Kindness is accepting where other people are, and not trying to change them. Kindness is accepting that might mean a toxic relationship is over – because we can’t change other people.
Kindness is helping someone out; not to have some sort of debt owed by them, not to try and make ourselves look good, but from a genuine compassion for fellow human-being.
Kindness is acting without expectation of reciprocity or recognition (although there’s nothing wrong with enjoying it). Kindness is an anonymous donation, it’s a surprise email with no expectation of a reply.
Kindness is respecting other people’s boundaries. It’s trusting that that person knows what’s best for them. Ignoring those boundaries is not kind.
Sometimes kindness is difficult, it can mean watching other people slide into a dark place and have to face up to the consequences of their actions. It means looking back at our own actions and facing up to the consequences of our own behaviour. Sometimes it means saying: “No.”
True kindness can be tough, and it can leave us feeling less than kind.
But kindness starts at home. And as long as we are being kind to ourselves, we are coming from a place where we can show true kindness to others.
Image credit: SweetOnVeg