Let’s be honest, kindness is a pretty strong value of a lot of people. Most of us strive to be honest and caring humans. But at what point is the act of kindness, too kind? Can there be such a thing I hear you ask? Absolutely – when that act of kindness means putting other people’s needs ahead of your own. But let’s examine this in further detail.
The Oxford dictionary defines “kindness” as “the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate”. It is well documented that being friendly, generous and considerate are important factors in improving our own mental health. As humans, we are pack animals. We need each other. In treating such conditions as depression, it is often recommended that we practice at least one act of random kindness per day. Why? Because it feels good. It puts us in a positive frame of mind, and generally, people are very appreciative of such kindness.
As humans, we all struggle at some point. But when we are in a good place psychologically, we are generally kind to ourselves first and foremost. In this state, we generally practice that random act of kindness for no other reason than to help others. We want nothing in return. We should never expect anything in return. Of course, a thank you, or a smile are always appreciated, but even if they are not received, you understand that you acted on your own values of kindness.
So, what do I mean by random acts of kindness? Here is a quick list that will give you an idea:
- Smile at a stranger;
- Open a door for someone;
- Help an elderly or disabled person;
- Send a friend a text – just to say hi;
- Tell a loved one how much you appreciate them;
- Let someone in on a busy freeway;
- Acknowledge when someone lets you in on a busy freeway;
- If you know someone who is going through a tough time – buy them flowers, or send them a text;
- Be kind to animals.
Kindness should always start with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Forgive yourself. Understand that you are doing the best job you can. If you made a mistake, own it, learn from it and grow. When we are in a good place psychologically, it helps us to understand who we are, what our values are and to be assertive. If we can do this, then – and only then – can we set boundaries.
Boundaries help us to protect ourselves and those that we love. Unfortunately, it is a sad state of human nature that people will take others for granted. There are some pretty unscrupulous people out there who prey on the vulnerable, the weak and the needy. Being kind, but confidant and assertive will earn you respect. If people respect you, then they will understand the limits that you are willing to go.
When we are struggling – lonely, unconfident, insecure – it is all too easy to say yes to others purely to please them. We all want to feel accepted, loved and feel like we belong. But that level of kindness can often lead to more pain for us when we realise that we have been taken for granted, used and abused. This in turn can intensify the cycle of self-destruction making us feel more worthless, insecure, lonely and unaccepted. THIS is what I mean by being too kind.
So please, my good people, go forth and practice those random acts of kindness – but only whilst you are also practising that level of kindness on yourself.