Kindness In All Directions

Let's be honest, we all believe in basic kindness, but sometimes it gets hard.

Other people annoy us, they say things to us that we wish they wouldn't, they do things we wish they wouldn't and they aren't always kind back.

Extending the same courtesy to others can be a challenge at times, and it's even more challenging when we start thinking about how we treat ourselves.

Trust me, I'm a firm believer in kindness, I always say my "please and thank yous," hold doors, smile at babies...the whole good samaritan bit.  But like I said, we're all human and we all have days where we wake up on the wrong side of the bed, get stressed to the max, or find out something that is pretty much a day or maybe even life changer.  In those situations it's even harder to find the place in myself where my kindess originates.

If you really think about it though, aren't most of us preaching kindness without really walking the walk?  Obviously the word has been thrown around so often its meaning may even become fuzzy, but how many of us know the true origin of kindness.

It's so easy to think or say we are kind, but the reason it gets challenging is because we aren't being kind to ourselves.

When we judge, criticize, nitpick, and get annoyed and frustrated at other people, we are only doing to them what we do to ourselves or what we perceive that others are doing to us.  Even if we don't recognize it at first, any harshness we feel begins inside of our own minds.

Universal law teaches us that every cause has an effect, and science has told us time and time again that every action has an equal and opposite reaction.  So it's natural to assume that any unkindness we have for ourselves, will spill out into our environment and come back around to us in other ways.  Of course this is getting into a whole other discussion, but I'm sure you see where I'm going here!

Kindness should always flow in all directions, and that means starting with ourselves.  Our teachers, parents and for some us, our religion may have taught us that kindness to others was the golden rule, but I would have to disagree.  The kindness you show to yourself is the foundation of your overarching attitude toward the world, and the amount you get back will grow in proportion to the amount you give to yourself.

I know because I may just have the loudest and meanest inner critic there ever was, and I have definitely had to work very hard on how I treat myself.  I say things to myself I would never utter to another...that's how mean I've been to myself in the past!  Not good.  However, I've also done enough self-work to see the effect my self-kindness or lack of it has in the world.

When I take care with myself, and allow myself the space and forgiveness that I would easily grant another, I see everyone and everything as much kinder.  Conversely, when I let my inner critic out of its cage I end up basically verbally assaulting myself silently.  This builds that feeling of harshness that I was talking about earlier, and not only do other people seem far less kind, I find it much more unpleasant to live with myself.

An ancient and very wise Chinese proverb, one of my favorites, says:

A bit of fragrance always clings to the hand that gives roses.

That's so true!  Being kind and helping others benefits us, not just because it makes us feel good, but because any time you put positive energy out into the world you make it a better place for everyone.  When you help another you help yourself, particularly if you see all people as connected.  However, if you're working on this principle and then berating yourself for making a simple mistake, you're kind of negating the effect of it.

So let's all just make a commitment, myself included, to try to be kinder to ourselves.  This will naturally create an inner abundance that we won't be able to help but pass onto others, thus making our own lives more rich and fulfilling.  Let's make sure kindness is flowing in all directions, including our own.