“Kindness is the mightiest force in the world…”
I read the above quote this morning. And heard the above quote again this evening…
And I saw this on my Facebook page yesterday…
Notice a theme here? Obviously someone is trying to get a message to me. Yesterday, I took it as a reminder to be kind to other people. We have no way of knowing what a person has experienced that day or throughout their life that prompts them to act the way that they do. Much of the time, while not necessarily the easiest, it is more beneficial and loving to choose the kinder, softer way with people. I had an experience last week with a group member from one of my classes that reminded me of this.
I had had a bit of a rough start with him and rather than stew in annoyance towards him (which, truth be told I did for about 30 or 40 minutes)…I decided I was going to love him. He was my group member and I was going to feel good towards him. A week later, last night, much to my surprise he was very pleasant to me and talked and talked to me (I did NOT prompt him with a question, he was the gentleman who “shamed” me for asking him a question last week). I believe he thought about his behavior towards me throughout the week, apparently became comfortable with sharing with me and when given the opportunity…did. I would say we had “a moment.”
I thought: Kindness…Check. Had kind thoughts towards man I originally was full of annoyance with, treated him with patience and look what happened! All is well in the world…!!
Eeeer, not quite. I mean, all IS well in the world, but not in regards to this topic. I realized that this morning.
I attend a recovery group that provides about 25 meetings each week. There is a 10AM meeting on Fridays which I enjoy going to. Well, 9:30 came round’ and all I wanted to do was lie in bed….but I felt compelled to get up, make myself some tea and go to this meeting, so I did.
I got there a little late, hair greasy as all get-out and barely verbal, but I was there. The woman who was leading read the preamble and we introduced ourselves. She then announced the topic for meeting…Kindness. Ah, I thought, here it is again…She briefly introduced her reasoning for choosing kindness and then read the page from a book with the above quote in it. She then passed to the person sitting next to her and so on. I listened to each person in the group discuss kindness and what thoughts came to them – mostly regarding anger and their difficulties with being kind to others and to themselves. I listened intently and then it was my turn to speak…
Something happens at these meetings, I know that angels are in these rooms and when near strangers share their experience with each other it breeds love and creates even more safe space to share openly. I pondered my thoughts for a few seconds, mentioned the Dalai Lama quote and started to talk about the choice between fear and kindness and…then BOOM, tears.
I had barely spoken and I became a, not quite blubbering mess, but certainly one who could not stop crying! I did not know why I was crying but I have accepted that when you are in touch with your feelings crying just happens, so I went with it.
I spoke about the many people in the room who quickly “go to” anger. That was not me in the least. I have a difficult time getting angry but when I do, I do a decent job managing it. Sure, I get angry, but my “go to” is definitely fear. I am terrified of angry people and fear the reactions of those I voice my anger to (I voice it though, I have an Aries moon! Sometimes I cannot help it :)).
There are “angry” people everywhere and everyone gets angry at some point and I want to be able to work with get along with them. I want to be unafraid of “angry” people. Where does kindness fit in here? One of my challenges over the years has to re-learn what it means to be truly kind and loving to others. How can I go from being “nice” i.e. a sheepish, push-over who allows others to manipulate her to someone who can live with self-respect in a way that I am comfortable with myself amongst “angry” people?
There are a range of ways to do this. But for me, they generally include having clear boundaries, not accepting unacceptable behavior (from anyone including myself), and the biggest and perhaps most difficult thing for me to learn, separate myself from those who are being unkind, be it temporarily or long-term. Doing what I say I am going to do is loving, not accepted people’s unacceptable behavior – is kind. Having less fear is a natural reaction to practicing this.
Pheeew!! I’m glad I’ve got that figured out!
…OK that is not true. I have been experiencing an array of unkind feelings about myself. I have been feeling really under-accomplished lately. I have been spending most of my time alone (my friend did a Tarot reading for me and my “present situation” card was the Hermit) practicing loving my own company and making progress in areas of my life as to not feed the “under-accomplished” feeling. Perfectionism can be a good excuse to procrastinate and not get anything done at all thus perpetuating and validating my under-accomplished feelings. I also have been getting mad messages from the Universe with regards to just how ingrained in my psyche these feelings are. Which brings me to this evening, the second time I heard the above quote.
I’m a bit of a head case so I went to two meetings in one day. I also almost did not want to go this meeting. I wanted to walk the dog and then relax and watch Netflix. But I want to be a dedicated member of the group and knew it would be helpful for me to go so I went. Different place, different people…difffeer’guess what the topic was? …Kindness….
Guess what she read?
The exact same reading as this morning.
Okkkaaaaaay Universe. I GET IT! BE NICE TO PEOPLE!…I didn’t think I needed much more insight on this topic? I rarely know what I actually know though so I listened. As I sat and listened I thought… “obviously I do not get it, what am I missing here? Why is the message of kindness coming into my world the second time today and the third time in 36 hours????”
I flipped through the book to find a page to read when it was my turn. I chose a reading under the topic “Criticism,” because it seems like a related topic. When it was my turn to speak I shared that this was my second meeting today about kindness. And then I read this:
“During the entire process of…(making a searching and fearless moral inventory of myself) I felt a nagging suspicion that I wasn’t doing it right. With [some] help, I finally realized that the problem wasn’t that I had done my Fourth Step wrong; the fact was that I had the same sense of inadequacy about my whole life. Whatever I’m doing, I’m inclined to feel that I am doing it wrong, that my best is not good enough, and that simply is not true,” and ended with:
“Let me realize…that self-doubt and self-hate are defects of character that hinder my growth.”
Annnnnnnd…tears (surprise). Again. The pause and take deep breaths between parts of the reading, tears. Tears that would not stop, either! It took me about three times as long as it normally would to read the page. Tears happen all the time at these meetings and everyone is understanding and quiet but I could feel a sense of confusion in the room…or, rather, I sensed my own confusion.
Why was I crying again???? I felt the Universe strike lightening right in front of my face as if to say “DO YOU GET IT NOW, KAREN?” Kindness to other people is not your major problem, IT IS KINDNESS TOWARDS YOURSELF! Like the author in this reading, I believe that I am inadequate in every area of my life and it is absolutely not based in logic or reality. It is a lie my defected self has told herself in the past and I am over it. I am ready to move beyond this thinking. Which is why I was so upset, which is why it has felt so BAD to feel under-accomplished. BECAUSE I AM SICK OF FEELING THAT WAY!
My conundrum here is what to do now. How do I be more kind to myself? I eat a healthy diet, I practice self-care…I feel like I like myself. How do I deal with all this internal, mostly decades old, gunk that is causing these feelings of self-doubt and hate to creep up?
By recognizing them, by giving them some time and space to sink in (because who the heck wants to admit they feel this way???) by treating myself the way I would treat another who expressed these feelings to me. It is a sad belief to have about myself and I would be sad for someone else. I can listen patiently to myself and provide an opportunity for sharing such sadness, which is what I am doing now. I understand that operating with the belief that I am basically doing everything not quite good enough is illogical, but calling myself illogical (i.e. insulting myself) is not going to force these feelings away. Also it is not kind. Giving voice to these feelings, chuckling with myself about how untrue they are and taking some time to recognize areas in my life that offer me assurance that I am doing things right. Then re-learn my perception of myself and surrounding myself with people who love and support me -that is a good place to start.
I had written a blog on Monday night in reaction to Top 40 radio that I was listening to on my car ride home. I am tempted to post it even though it lacks continuity and is filled with me complaining. The point I was trying to make is: I was listening to sappy love songs and “love/hate” songs on top 40 and I was feeling reallllly badly about myself so I changed the station to Christian rock. It was top 40s fault that I felt bad…but only because I was already feeling bad.
I was already feeling “under-accomplished” and fearing the future and probably a handful of the things before I was listening to Top 40. When one is already feeling down about one’s entire life a song about romance is the easiest thing to make one feel way worse (regardless if one wants romance in life or not)….In other words, it wasn’t really Top 40s fault…
But my experience that night and my thought process that followed led me to be able to connect those thoughts to my kindness message. Top 40 love songs pushed me over the edge, I normally can listen to them for hours, but this self-doubt, self-hate and unkindness towards myself is currently at my surface and making me generally vulnerable. It is ready for me to recognize it, face it and remove it. Recognizing an area that needs attention is huge, dealing with the extreme discomfort of the recognition is hard, telling other people is NO FUN (albeit helpful) and removing the area, if it is not serving you, is life-changing and necessary for growth.
When I am successfully able to work through these feelings that are probably causing way more issues in my life than I am probably aware of, I anticipate amazing things. The more we love ourselves and the better we treat ourselves the more truly loving and better we are able to treat each other. I am not talking about superficial niceness or waiting for someone to leave so we can talk about them behind their back instead of to their face, I am talking about the type of kindness in the quote, “the mightiest force in the world,” kindness.
This process has been uncomfortable and a very long time coming. Growth has been likened to peeling an onion or bark falling off a tree, with each new layer that is removed more layers are exposed to address.
If you remove a layer-prematurely the onion/tree underneath is vulnerable and will die. The outer layers are removed at the rate that is safe for the survival of the whole. I take these “new” realizations as validation that I have dealt with my outer layers and is it simply time to deal with the more vulnerable layers underneath.
This doesn’t make it easy but it offers me an explanation that I am right on time. I also look forward to treating myself the way I want to treat others and kicking ass with kindness through life! I think kindness is like an infection that is easily spread to others. I have no desire to run for president (I’m way too old to start that process anyway) or volunteer in Uganda to save the world, but here is my feat, I want to treat every person I come into contact with, starting with myself, with kindness. I want this to be one of the ways I contribute to bettering this world because it is truly effective.
If we all treated each other better this world would be a better place.
It may be simple, but it isn’t always easy, and before I can be truly kind to others I must learn to be kind to myself. So I will continue to begin with myself. And let ya’ll know how it goes 🙂
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