Monday, October 5, 2015

The Corruption of Kindness

I would never suggest that we shouldn’t be kind. Obviously, our world could use a tad more kindness, on both a personal and global level. But several Facebook postings by others this week made me realize that many are misusing the notion of being kind.

The postings went something like this: “It doesn’t pay to be kind. People just use you,” and, “Being so nice always bites you in the ass! I should just start being a bitch!” or, “People are so mean. They just walk all over you when you’re a good person.” Their remarks inspired others to commiserate with them. My response is a big ole, “Ugh!” Each one of those statements is loaded with victimization and expectations.

It leaves me to wonder what the motivation is behind their supposed kindness. Is the issue with the receiver or the energy which they approach the situation? I’m leaning towards the latter and it makes think that a refresher course on acts of good will might be in order.

There are two distinct and very different forms of giving, whatever it is we wish to share. While both are about “doing” for another on the surface, one is actually selfish in motivation. Yes, being kind can actually be rooted in selfishness if one’s motivating factor is to hear our praises sung by another. If we perform what we perceive to be altruistic deeds in the hopes of hearing how wonderfully generous and loving we are, well then that’s not very loving at all. Our acts are not meant to boost our self-esteem but are an outward expression of what we already know to be true about ourselves. If we expect another to return the favor, as though we now have some unbreakable bond with them, we have engaged someone else in a contract that they have entered unaware but are now seemingly beholden to fulfill. 

Of course as human beings we enjoy appreciation and acknowledgement from our fellow man, but this should not be the impetus for our behaviors. If it is what fuels us, we will often be left unfulfilled and bitter, as are the people I mentioned above. The others in the Facebook post have forgotten one very important truth, they have a choice! If someone continually takes advantage of our generosity it’s because we allow it. If through their behaviors they are saying. “I don’t value what you do or have done for me,” then we should believe them and make our next choice accordingly, which might be to stop being so charitable with that individual. If we continue to give, give, give without limits or boundaries we aren’t being kind, what we are is foolish and lacking in self-love.

Now that we now what kindness is not, let’s discuss a conscious, healthy and truly loving approach.

The second form of kindness originates from the heart, not a wounded ego. The reward in this type of kindness is not in the accolades but the pleasure is derived in the act itself. Simply put, it feels good to do it just for the sake of sharing or giving to another. There is a benevolence in the energy and the action when it comes from the space of an open heart. With this energy we don’t crave recognition, only the joy we receive in knowing that we came from an authentic space. This approach is not some school yard version of an I.O.U. system where we hold others emotionally captive until they’ve paid their supposed debt.

Of course another may still choose to greedily consume this type of giving as well, but it doesn’t sting because we were not looking for a kickback. Even more importantly, when coming from this point of reference, we will and can more easily make the shift to pull out of those interactions in which we are not respected because an open heart allows us to tend to ourselves as well.

So by all means, spread the love- but leave the neediness behind.

Be well and happy.

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