When you’re on the receiving end of kindness — it’s milk — a honeyed sap with associations of mothering & the cosseted dark womb.
But being kind is an altogether different experience.
It’s rising in the dark to run despite rain & icy winds while the world is sleeping.
Being kind can mean:
- Suppressing the urge to lash out because you feel momentarily better.
- Letting it go through to the keeper.
- Putting your needs second, third or taking them off the table, this time.
- Not adding fuel to the fire though you’re desperate to do so.
- Refusing to let someone else’s feelings determine yours.
- Sometimes, not speaking out.
- Sometimes, not saying what you really think.
- Appreciating a person is not just their last encounter with you.
- Remembering the good when you don’t want to.
- Knowing that when someone strikes at your sense of self it’s because they desperately need to affirm theirs and feeling compassion, rather than anger, for that humanness.
- Seeing yourself in the above.
- Admitting that you too can be unkind.
It’s not for the meek. Kindness demands vigilance, acute self-awareness and internal restraint, for which the rewards are not always obvious.
You also need to know the border at which kindness transmutes into self-abuse and not step over it.
That’s the sharper edge of the practice that means you must also know when to:
- Lift the lid & name what is in front of you.
- Decline to buy into it.
- Refuse to agree because it’s easier and you’re lobbied (silently) to do so.
- Draw a boundary that is absolute.
All of which can be done with patience and love. But it’s not easy. Kindness can be a brutal master.