Seeing Ourselves and the World with Kindness
BY: T. Franklin Murphy | June 2018
Life is difficult enough without the a harsh critic. Try being kind to others—and yourself.
The beautiful complexity of a complicated world. We dynamically dance through life, bumping into experience, exchanging moments, and moving forward. Each collision with life demands a choice—an action. Emotions arouse and push towards or pull away from the stimulation. Sometimes we react perfectly, achieving the desired goal, other times our response fails. We zigged when should have zagged. We fearfully retreat when we should have embraced. Error is a given for living in a complex world, while driven to act by unseen internal forces. With patience and direction, we refine our skills to appropriately respond to life—not perfectly; but effectively.
"Kindness is defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate."
Karyn Hall Ph.D.
All too common, we expect a better performance from ourselves. Somehow, this unscripted life is supposed to be perfectly navigated. And when post evaluation exposes error, we grumble about our stupidity. Stop that nasty habit. Self-denigration gets you nowhere; embrace a little self-compassion. Personal imperfection is okay. We are imperfect (perfectly imperfect). We never eliminate all the mistakes, missteps and even occasional evilness. Weaknesses impose on our lives, reminding of our human heritage. Mistakes are here to stay.
"Kindness is a chain reaction. It’s a wave that keeps rolling, and all it needs is one person to start it. One small kind act can cause a ripple effect that impacts an entire community."
A Single Choice is Not the Entire Character
A single choice doesn’t define the entirety of our character—as poor as that choice may be. A skilled approach evaluates the self by examining the entirety of choices—and our adjustments to faulty choices. It’s okay to make mistakes. We live effectively by recognizing mistakes and consciously addressing them. Patience and self-compassion must accompany this process of becoming. Expecting perfection frustrates the process. Through introspective thinking and compassionate understanding, we gain wisdom from errors. And with the wisdom, we improve at the skill of living.
Harsh judgement for personal imperfection is damaging. We must stop the madness, give ourselves room to be human.
Seeing the World with Kindness Must be learned
Kindness is nice. It is more than kind acts but a way of seeing the world. We must practice re-interpreting our habitual jarring and biter judgements.
We slip into mind habits. Negative mindsets may begin as biological sensitivities, but we enhance their notable impact through thoughts, words, and routine assessments of surrounding internal and external stimuli.
Spend a significant amount time around people that negatively bash everything and soon we find the "doom and gloom" attitude infiltrates our own perceptions. Our bright world of opportunity morphs into a dark sphere of frightening horrors.
We can challenge dismal unkind views in a number of ways:
What is this article about, anyways? Kindness to others or kindness to ourselves? Compassion can, and should encompass both. We tame critical judgements with compassionate views, understanding there is always more to the story. Our criticism doesn't change the world, force others into better behaviors, or encourage personal change.
When we talk about kindness to others, we need to consider extending the same kindness to ourselves. When we talk about kindness to ourselves, we need to also practice extending kindness to others. We need kindsight when looking outward or looking inward.
The Impact of Unkindness on Our Self-Image
When we harshly judge the normal slips and stumbles, we undermine personal value. By lowering self-image, we invite discouragement. This mindset weighs down the mind and drains precious energy, focusing on the self instead of the actions. We inevitably will make more mistakes. The same rule is true when influencing others. We don't need manipulative barbs, judging flaws, and citing flaws. We need kindness, patience and understanding.
We must lift our heads, widen our perspectives and view life with more kindness. The softness of kindsight will create an internal support system to lift us and those around us through the difficult challenges of change in a dynamic and unpredictable universe.
Give yourself and others a little more kindness and flourish.
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