As the new year began I decided I wanted one word to focus on. One idea to center my life around. I chose kindness. After a month I decided to broaden my vision a bit to include elements connected to kindness. I'm six months into it now and guess what -- I'm perfect at it!
I am kind all the time to everyone I meet. Every word I speak is kind. Every thought I have is kind. Every action I take. Even my gestures. I just radiate kindness.
Well, no. But I wish that were true.
I am truthful and direct by nature most of the time. This means that sometimes stupid things come out of my mouth. I don't mean them to be hurtful, but apparently they are. I can tell because I see the look on the person's face. Or I miss the reaction completely and find out later because a friend of a friend has the courage to tell me. And there are probably many times when I never find out at all.
But I am trying. I work harder to think before I speak. I let the possible laugh go because the words might hurt. I worry less about what I want to say and more about how I'd like the people with me to feel. I want the people I'm with to feel valued. I'm making a special effort to put away the snide and invite the sincere.
And there are times when I know it would be kind to go over and talk to someone who is alone. To say hi to the person at the store I haven't seen in a long time. To reach out. But I don't. Because, more often than not, I am scared. That they won't remember me. That they never really liked me. That I imagined a relationship that was never really there. That they are too cool for me. That I will say something stupid. Or a hundred other things. Basically, that I am inadequate and not worthy of their time. (Yes, this is a psychological hangup I have from my childhood. I'm working on it.) Basically I get so worked up about me that I forget about them.
I haven't worked much on this. I need to. I could do better. I am pretty friendly and kind once I am invited into a conversation; I'm just not good at inviting myself.
There are some people it's very easy to be kind to. There are days it's easy to be kind. And then there are other people and other days.
I don't want who I am talking with to determine whether or not I am kind. I don't want a bad day to squelch my kindness. I want to be a person who is kind. Period.
The thing I'm working on most is my thoughts. I grew up in a house full of very sarcastic people. I am fluent in two languages: English and sarcasm. I am equally powerful on the defensive or on the attack. And I hate it. Like someone who has spent a great deal of time in another country automatically thinks things in that language first, I too often hear those snotty comebacks in my head before I ever think something nice.
There is a language of kindness. I am not a native speaker. I know a lot of the words, but I am not fluent yet. I can understand it better than I speak it. But I am reminding myself more often to think in kindness. Not just to push a mean or judgmental thought away, but to sense when it's starting and step on it.
Change takes time and focus. I will be patient. And as often as I can, I will be kind.