The Truth About When Kindness Flew Out The Window

June 27, 2011 by  
Filed under current, Relationship Space

Have you heard of RAOK?  Random Acts of Kindness? The ones where someone at the tollgate pays for some anonymous person in the following car, or buys a latte for the next person in the cafe queue.

Don’t know about you, but while I love the principle behind these generous gestures, I never think to do them. RAOK are not even on my radar!

If I was being kind to myself (not one of my greatest strengths I must confess) I might acknowledge that my way of being kind is probably to be there for friends when they need to talk.  Being there to reassure someone when their sense of self is in the ditch, and their own self-love has gone AWOL   That’s probably when I spontaneously and with open-heart can offer kindness, and urge and encourage others to be kind to themselves.

And it’s that word spontaneously that seems to give the hint about the difference between kindness and duty or generosity or even “christian charity” (not sure why only the Christians get the handle on charity – but that’s another topic)!

Annie Hutton, our regular Spiritual Space advisor, has teased out the difference in many of her sharings, including this month’s.  As Annie points out in a previous article:

Kindness cannot be a strategy – true kindness comes from the heart with ease and grace. This is the spiritual Way.

It’s that coming from the heart bit that can be the struggle for me. It requires me to let go of ego. Often I’ve got my claws well dug into hanging onto that!

And of course, it’s in our relationships that we make least effort to let go of that ego. After all, we justify to ourselves, if I can’t be me when I’m home, then when can I relax?

For me, that’s when heart-driven kindness can be a far greater stretch to offer to my partner, than it is to a work colleague who’s struggling with an issue.

Oh yes dear readers, your Relationship Writer is no pedestal-strutting guru. Far from it!

Over the last few months I’ve found myself protecting ego and holding on tightly (like grim death) to superiority. A battered self-worth has had control of my ego, and true to its job, was looking for every way to make me feel better. And my behaviour in our relationship?  My ‘feeling better’ was at the cost of another. And who was there? Closest, handy, and loving? My poor hubby, SweetP.

So my behaviour was self-obsessed, not heart-driven. I was mostly right (in my mind) and rarely kind. I hadn’t registered her words, when Annie had shared Wayne Dyer’s advice:

“Be Kind Not Right”

To be kind and not right says to me:

  • When an issue is not critical or does not go against my values, there is no need to prove myself right all the time
  • By making myself right, I must obviously make someone else wrong
  • Losing my ego is a better option
  • Taking the focus off myself means I am free to notice when others are distressed, ill, or tired, and show kindness accordingly

How could I have offered spontaneous, heart-driven, kindness to the most wonderful man in the world?

I could have:

  • paused long enough to take 2 or 3 breaths before I fired off my opinions criticisms at him
  • chosen to allow his many wonderful qualities to outshine his human frailties
  • made a decision to love him with those frailties
  • stopped long enough to ask myself what was making ME so unhappy and driving so much disenchantment in MY life (ie faced up to my own shit)
  • registered the flashes of hurt and pain in his eyes
  • recognised how withdrawn he was, as he defended himself from criticism
  • made a space where it was safe for him to tell me what was going on, and get to know what my arrows of criticism felt like as they landed on him
  • really heard him when he muttered about not being able to do anything right, or
  • chosen to actually allow those words in, instead of pretending not to hear …

There are many more but I think you get my drift.

If I’d just stopped long enough to give myself a score out of 10 for offering heart-driven kindness to my beloved, I know I could honestly (even in my wallow) have said it was about a 2/10.

It was only recently that we had a chance to talk about this in our relationship. And there’s more to talk about yet. But at least my eye is swinging off me and onto the man I cannot imagine living without. How callous and thoughtless I’ve been with his love and patience!

Have you ever given yourself a score for kindness to your partner?

What would be your score out of 10 at the moment?

After all, our relationships are only as good as the lowest common denominator. Improvements can only come from YOU making changes.

How could you offer your partner heart-driven, ego-less, kindness today?

Feel free to let me know your successes and experiences in the comments below.



6 Responses to “The Truth About When Kindness Flew Out The Window”
  1. What a beautifully honest post Chris. I really enjoyed reading it, even as I felt the ‘ouch!’ of recognition… So easy to get attached to being right, and forget being simply loving. Thanks for the reminder.

  2. Chris says:

    Thanks Joanna
    I couldn’t sit down and write anything until I had been honest with myself and others. And if that means others think less of me well so be it. I know that EVERYONE has times when the boat is rocking in their relationship and it’s not the kind of rocking that Shirley Valentine got!! LOL
    Glad to hear you found it relatable, that’s what I want of my writing!

  3. Anne Maybus says:

    Chris, you’ve had a very tough time lately so don’t beat yourself up. In fact, be kind to yourself. We are all just poor little humans with our weaknesses and passions. Allow yourself some space. I love the fact that you can stop and assess what has been happening. Not many of us can (or choose to) do that. That’s why you are so perfect in your role as relationship guru. You understand human weakness but you can show a clear and manageable way ahead. I would bet that this post changes a few relationships for the better, too.

  4. Chris says:

    Anne I can feel YOUR kindness beaming out of my screen to me!

    If being excruciatingly honest helps “change a few relationships for the better” that would be FANTASTIC and help to keep me sharing any battle-acquired wisdom!

  5. Annie says:

    Dear Chris
    Anne got this totally right (oops, kind) when she said you are allowed to be kind to yourself. At different times in our lives, we would all suffer a sad little kindness score, as you say particularly with our dear ones. I don’t know many people who have your awareness and honesty.
    I love that Wayne’s simple words have had a ripple effect – as it should be.
    Love ya gorgeous
    Mwaaaaaa from Annie

    • Chris says:

      Thanks Annie
      I guess that the reason why I shared this is because we do take it out on our dear ones. Interestingly since writing this I have been far more kind to myself and to him.
      But your post was definitely a very helpful conduit to that article. I like a bit of Wayne Dyer wisdom so thanks!
      Mwaaah Right Back at you!