Cultivating Kindness

Kindness seems like an easy subject for a blog post, but actually it’s quite complex. It’s not all kittens, flowers and rainbows. I gave a great deal of thought to how I would approach the subject. I am not the kindest person I know, but I do have my moments.

When I was in my early twenties, I had more of a knee-jerk reaction to other peopleleo-animal-savannah-lioness-55814 when they were displaying behavior I saw as negative. The key word here is reaction. I reacted to what other people said and did. My emotions have always been kind of firey.

Programming from my childhood caused some of my reactions and the ways I dealt with other people. I was defensive. My family was quite impoverished. Sometimes we lacked basic needs. My subconscious was being taught low self-esteem all through childhood without me realizing it.

When I saw myself as low and other people high, I felt I had to level the playing field. Sarcasm and criticism were my chosen tools for increasing self-esteem but they also pexels-photo-59196decreased my kindness. I was witty, but not always nice. It took a while to realize I was not really increasing my self-esteem either.

My kindness boundaries were blurred. Being kind, to me, sometimes meant being taken advantage of. Kindness meant weakness. As I grew mentally and emotionally, I knew this wasn’t the case. I could be kind and strong at the same time. But, my kindness boundaries had to be learned. I knew kindness had to be practiced.

I was put into situations and professions where I had to use kindness consistently. I had to find the balance between healthy kindness and proper self-esteem. This meant giving, but not so much as to lose a part of myself in the process. All my close relationships were learning experiences for me.

I have great respect for well known people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King Jr. and the Dali Lama (to name a few). I don’t know how they consistently showed so much kindness day after day, especially while dealing with all the negativity they had to deal with. They always gave off an energy heart-mussels-harmony-love-161002of love and compassion. Their presence was always peaceful and kind.

It’s never easy to be kind to people who are rude. I’ve always had a low threshold for ignorance and drama. Some people even drained my energy by just being around them. How could I always be kind? I knew I had a lot of work to do.

As I’ve grown and had more experiences, I’ve seen how anger brings about more anger. I’ve also seen how kindness brings about more kindness. What I gave out came back to me. I’ve worked to become more compassionate, understanding and patient with other people and myself. These are great lessons in life. These lessons cultivate wisdom and their gift is peace.

I am learning to be more consistent at compassion. It’s easy with some people but not so easy with others. I’d like to say I am a kind person. At times I know I am. By practicing compassion, I know I am cultivating kindness.