You know, there’s a hard line between kindness, love, positivity, being nice, and so forth… It’s a lesson I’ve learned before, but in my life and experience therein one thing I’ve learned is that relapse is a reality. It’s something I’ve been struggling with for the past couple of months or so, maybe even the past few months, if I remember correctly.

I was always alone when I was a child. As a youngling I would often just think and read and basically just spend time analysing the crap out of stuff. Not that analysing things as a child is bad—it’s something that in my honest opinion should be very strongly encouraged—but for me it was a pretty lonely time. I didn’t have many friends, and any that I did have I never really had much opportunity to spend time with outside of, perhaps, the lunch period.

This heavily disproportionate relationship between interacting with others and interacting with my brain gave me a lot of knowledge and thinking ability, but I had a severe shortage of social skills. And although I also had a good starting amount of empathy just by nature, I can say that there was still a lot of room for improvement.

You may be wondering what brought this topic up, especially after my completely unannounced (and, dare I say, irresponsible?) several-week-long hiatus from writing for this blog (sorry about that…). Well, just earlier today I was reading this blog post by the VP of Advertising & Pages at Facebook, Andrew Bosworth.

It’s all about how they had learnt an important lesson, not just for healthy work relations but in almost all aspects of life as well. And there was a specific passage that really spoke to me, and it inspired me to write today about that lesson it raised in my mind.

Here is that passage:

Being kind isn’t the same as being nice. It isn’t about superficial praise. It doesn’t mean dulling your opinions. And it shouldn’t diminish the passion with which you present them.

Being kind is fundamentally about taking responsibility for your impact on the people around you. It requires you be mindful of their feelings and considerate of the way your presence affects them.

…Powerful, isn’t it? And it couldn’t be more true. The fact of the matter is that although a lot of us may think that efficacy is the heart of progress, it’s not. Because it doesn’t matter what you do or what you can do if it does nothing outside of your own mind. And no one will listen, help you out, or do anything else to further that efficacy if you don’t treat them with respect. And, anyway, what is so effective about an idea that dies with you?

I think you see the point…

I learned this a few years ago, and for a while there I was doing wonderfully in rectifying how I saw my past behaviour and, no doubt, how others did. My relationship with my grandmother, mother, father, and brother have all improved dramatically; I feel much more confident in my ability and in how I gauge myself ethically; and both my professional and academic (Is there even a difference? Hardly.) performance has surely improved, albeit roundabout-like to a degree.

But remember what I said above about relapse? Sometimes it happens. You lose your way a bit. It’s never a good thing. But the fact this time is that I’m recognising the decrease. I’m paying attention and I’m ready to fix this.

We all can. If we want to.

Image Credit: Bridget Coila
Released under an Attribution-ShareAlike 2.0 Generic (CC BY-SA 2.0) license.
Image has not been changed.


2 thoughts on “How to Be Kind: Relearning an Old Lesson

  1. This is a great post – both because reminders of the meaning and value of kindness are always timely and worthwile, always. But also, because it mentions the inevitable relapses, something that is often missing in messages about kindness.

    Relapses happen though, even if the realisation about the value and necessity of kindness was at one time deep and strong. And when they do, when I bump up against life despite my intentions for being kind and compassionate…well, it’s unpleasant to say the least. But as you’ve aptly noted, it happens, you lose your way, but I agree entirely that the critical thing is to PAY ATTENTION.


    1. Agreed! Life is full of challenges and one of those challenges is the reality of screwing up now and then. And atop all of the mountains we must climb just to merely survive, we also the uncertainties of our own selves. But there’s no use in avoiding that fact or acting like it doesn’t happen.

      Everyone screws up eventually. We make mistakes. It’s a guaranteed fact of life because it’s part of learning, and one could argue learning IS life (or is it life is learning?). So if we’re gonna mess up, we might as well expect it so we can duly prepare for it. I guess it just rolls back to that good ol’ aphorism, The first step to solving a problem is recognising it exists.

      Liked by 1 person

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