Kindness Versus Cruelty
Interestingly, there is a lot of “self” in #11 from “15 Powerful Things Happy People Do Differently.”
As in (and I quote): “They [happy people] are kind to themselves and others and they understand the power of self-love, self-forgiveness and self-acceptance.”
I am not very kind to myself. Or at least that is what my mentor tells me. I am certainly kinder to me than I used to be, which is saying something, but I still have miles to go before I sleep.
I don’t know if this tendency towards self-critique is a “Type A personality” thing, a “former anorexic and bulimic” thing, a “former depressed and anxious person” thing, or just a “me thing.” Or all of the above. Or perhaps none of the above.
It is certainly partially a DNA thing – in one of my favorite books, “Quiet” by Susan Cain, the author points out that researchers have now identified personality as being made up of essentially equal parts DNA and environment.
Translation: the 50 percent of me that is biologically unhappy is – how shall we say it – screwed.
But the other half still has more than enough rope to hang herself….or pull herself up again.
In fact, my mentor and I long ago bought my biological half a one-way first class ticket to an extra-enticing sandy beach and sent her off in style (making sure she had a firm hold on her very strong and relaxing jumbo margarita before wheels-up).
We’ve spent the better part of the years since her departure working our, um, magic on my environmentally susceptible other half, slowly and steadily introducing her to the concept that happy can be cool, fun, and – most importantly – possible.
I do believe this, by the way. I also totally buy in to the concept that I can only love others to the degree I can love me. My mentor continually reminds me that love for self, kindness towards self, forgiveness and acceptance of self are far more humble than their face value might suggest. The humility comes from dealing ourselves in – sincerely acknowledging that we are all in this together, each struggling in some areas and shining in others – and that no one of us can possibly know all that there is to know about the story of another.
This keeps me, personally, from getting either ahead of or left behind in my own life, either puffing myself up or putting myself down. It really does work. It works better when I actually apply it of course, and that is a work-in-progress (just remembering to do it is often my first challenge) but when I remember, and I act upon what I remember, I became a kinder person towards both self and others pretty much instantly.
Today’s Takeaway: Are there areas of your own life, your relationship with yourself, or your self-treatment where you believe – even insist – that kindness is optional? Or maybe there are some aspects to your life where you have even got yourself convinced that kindness is not welcome? Consider these areas in light of the Dalai Lama’s words. What might it take to shift your own perspective to give kindness a chance in every area of your life?
Cutts, S. (2012). Kindness Versus Cruelty. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 19, 2015, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/mentoring-recovery/2012/08/kindness-versus-cruelty/