I have to say that for me to decide to write an article on kindness, things have to be really, really bad in the world. Plenty of spiritual leaders have talked about kindness. It is already a social value. It is that trite, Pollyanna, sunshine, gumdrops and roses concept they teach us in kindergarten. It’s a roll your eyes concept that we all think we get by now. But the thing is, we don’t get it.
Though this article is valid in the current human society no matter what is happening, I am writing this as a pandemic crisis, anti-racism/police brutality protests and rioting as well as a recession are what currently defines human society. The shadow of human society today can be summed up in one word: Hostile. And we are suffering from it greatly. And it just so happens that the antidote is: Kindness.
By the time that most people in the world reach adulthood, they have become acclimatized and desensitized to the hostility and harshness of the world and human society. Everyone falls somewhere on the scale of personal experience with the harshness and hostility in the world. They have adapted to it. You may not remember that adaptation process, but it was an incredibly painful process for you. And that adaptation process was full to the brim with things like shame, aloneness, disappointment, disillusionment, the acceptance of the reality of many painful truths and the reality of unsafety, the development of distrust and fragmenting internally as a coping mechanism.
But the saddest part in all of this process is that you split as a result of it. You buried your vulnerability. You underwent a process of hardening. Many of you became harsh and hostile in certain ways so as to exist in a harsh and hostile world. But by doing so, you became part of the problem and made the world even more harsh. If you haven’t done so already, I want you to watch my video titled Fragmentation, the Worldwide Disease. In that video, I explain this process of splitting so as to hide vulnerable parts of your consciousness, while pushing protector parts of your consciousness to the surface. You hide the vulnerable parts of you that need and so desperately crave kindness. You present whatever parts of yourself to the world that kept you the safest. When the priority is personal safety, it becomes a very inauthentic, narcissistic world. It becomes a world in which everyone is doing things for their own best interests. It becomes a society of strategy and zero-sum games.
Any time someone feels threatened, the sensations that occur within their body trigger their protector aspects to come to the forefront. So what you are seeing in the spike of hostility in the world today is that everyone’s protector aspects are interacting with one another. Think of the typical archetypes of people that have a specific strategy for staying safe. I’ll give you a few examples: A war general who goes to war with others, a manager that starts to boss everyone around and control everyone, a person who plays a victim so that others protect them, a cynic who prevents themselves from disappointment by filling the world with negativity, a loner who withdraws from everyone to be nowhere near the threat. Now imagine that when people are threatened, they change into any one of these archetypes. What we have in a time of unsafety is a world full of war generals and managers and cynics and avoidants. This is a problem because each one perceives themselves to be being made unsafe by others, not the one making others unsafe. They are in defense mode. But defense mode is perceived as offense to others. So it becomes a vicious cycle.
Kindness is what people need in order to break free from that vicious cycle and to be able to allow their vulnerability to surface again. Therefore, we must make a practice of kindness and be the first to act kind, and not ask the world to be kind to us first. If we don’t do this, it will be a game of “you lay your shield down first… No you lay yours down first!” To help with this, I’m going to give you a list of things you can do to enhance your new practice of kindness.
Work with the parts of yourself that do not want to be kind or are only kind as a narcissistic strategy for the sake of personal best interests. In other words, work with your own protector parts that have developed ways of staying safe that enhance the harshness, coldness, separation, rigid thinking, violence, narcissism, stinginess, indifference and unfriendliness in the world. But work with them, with kindness. Kindness does not make you weak, vulnerable, permissive, stupid or naïve. But many of your parts do not know this. To understand this and also how to do this, I want you to watch two of my videos, Parts Work (What is Parts Work and How To Do It) and There is No Such Thing as Self Sabotage.
Start with yourself. It makes no sense in a mirror construct (which is what this time space reality is) to be unkind to you and kind to them. How could you be more gentle, soft, understanding, warm, compassionate, affectionate, friendly, generous and considerate with yourself? One way to figure out the answer is to think about ways to be kind to others and then do those things for yourself. Some examples are: Understand yourself instead of deprecate yourself. Help yourself or get help instead of shame yourself for needing help. Engage in activities that nourish you and make you feel soothed. Do things that bring you joy. Make sure parts of you are in alignment before taking an action rather than bulldozing yourself, take care of yourself and your needs. Remind yourself of your excellent qualities, treat every day like a fresh beginning etc.
It is easy to love and let your guard down around vulnerable things. It is harder around things that feel dangerous, threatening or hostile. This is why to take your enemy as a part of yourself is one of the hardest things to do. But, one trick you can use before mastering the art of doing that is to look past the protector part of people to see the vulnerable part that it is hiding. For example, if someone is avoiding contact with you and is not looking you in the eye and does not respond to you when you say hi, try to see the part of them that is terrified of people (including you) and is hiding in a corner not knowing what else to do other than isolate. If someone is screaming and angry at someone else, see the powerless, desperate part of them that is smashing against a door that will not open. When you are out in the world, make a practice of looking for that hidden part and living according to the question “what is the most effective and loving way to respond to that part of them instead”?
Commit to doing whatever it takes to understand people. We spend an inordinate amount of time in relationships trying to figure out how to make the other person happy. We want to love them in a way that they can really feel that love, but we don’t know how. To really love someone in a way where they will feel loved, you must understand that thing. I am going to go even further and say that you should stop trying to love them and start trying to understand them instead. To understand more about this, watch my video titled: Stop Trying to Love Them and Start Trying to Understand them. When you do this, the answers to what they really need and want and what they would be disarmed by will surface and it is easy then to know how to interact with someone. Also, as a general rule, whatever you understand, you are less afraid of and therefore able to be more kind to. There is a reason that shark experts have no problem being kind to sharks.
Give to give, not to receive. Pure kindness is not dependent on an audience or on a return. It is true that if you take someone as a part of yourself, their happiness will be felt as your own. But we can be transactional about kindness and this makes it not kindness, but instead a way of manipulating to get our own needs met. For this reason, it may benefit you to watch my video titled: Cut the Invisible Strings. Find a way to compassionately and directly meet the needs of any part of you that may be trying to get its needs met indirectly this way.
In your day to day life, create and/or look for opportunities for kindness and take them. When you’re at the check-out counter, compliment or strike up conversation with the store clerk. Let someone pass in-front of you. Smile at people. Look to find a meeting of minds in a conflict, help someone out, offer a hug or embrace, lift them up with something you say or do, do a deed without taking a picture of yourself doing it or bragging about it, listen to people and ask questions with the energy of wanting to understand them, make a child feel seen by you, pick up litter you didn’t throw, make a donation etc. There are lists upon lists of random acts of kindness you can look at. Look for those opportunities and ways to be perceived as safe and friendly to others. When an opportunity presents itself, be gentle, soft, affectionate, understanding, warm, compassionate, friendly, generous and considerate with them. A good question to ask yourself is: How can I make myself safe for them?
There is a time and place for all energies within this universe, even the ones we might label unkind. For example, some people think brutal honesty is unkind. But there is incredible value in brutal honesty in the right situation. People think competition is unkind, but there is incredible value in competition in the right situation. The reality is our own protector parts cause us to misread the appropriateness of situations in which those energies that human society would label as unkind are in fact in-alignment or are in fact out of alignment. They cause is to act only in our own best interests instead of to find a win-win. But when kindness is our practice, we don’t banish or get rid of those energies within ourselves that we or others might deem to be unkind. We simply practice strengthening and developing the opposite energies. We practice really taking the best interests of others as a part of our own best interests and then act kind accordingly.
Mentally, kindness flood people. To do this, close your eyes or simply bring to mind someone or something that you feel the most overwhelmingly compassionate and loving and kind towards. Maybe it’s your cat or your son or daughter or starving children or your best friend or trees being deforested. Feel this sensation of overwhelming compassion and love and kindness inside your own being and mentally increase it so it floods you. You can imagine it having a color and texture and sound. Now when it is amplified to the degree that you are bursting at the seams from that energy, mentally see or sense yourself sending that energy towards the other person. Maybe that is towards other people you are passing in a store or on the street. Maybe it is towards your spouse or friend or child. And eventually, do this mentally towards a person or situation that you are struggling with. Continue holding and sending this kindness energy into the person or situation so as to flood them with it for as long as feels good to you personally. You can even do this with the whole world. Once you have finished, notice how you feel differently towards the other person or the situation. Stay open to any insight the exercise may give you about the situation.
- Appreciation scan. Our minds scan the world for things that we don’t like, things that pose a threat and are unsafe. We are more likely to walk around noticing the differences between us and others as well as the things we dislike about them. When we practice kindness, in order to get into the energy of kindness, we can do the opposite. Play a game with yourself where you scan the world, the place you are in and every person you encounter for what you appreciate about them. What is excellent about them? What do you like about them? What is good about them? What is the same about you and them? Notice how this exercise makes you feel and act and how it makes others respond to you.
I am going to close this article with a thought I want you to consider. When we are not being kind, it is because we are wanting to survive. So many people are thinking things and saying things and acting in ways that they think will ‘keep them safe’ but in doing so, are creating a world that is not worth living in. You could live in a padded room. But is that really thriving? Is it really living? There comes a point where we must realize that to really live, means risk. If our protector aspects of consciousness are the ones making all the decisions and dictating our actions towards others, we will make a society that is even more unconducive to human health and wellbeing than the one we currently live in. So think and speak and act the way you want the world to be. There is no greater sense of reason than this.
A being cannot thrive in a hostile environment. A person cannot thrive in a hostile situation. The more aggressively we try to protect ourselves, the more hostile this world becomes. For us to create a world that we and that future generations can thrive in, we must care more about kindness than about personal safety. Ironically that is also the only way we can all become safe.
Kindness is something that is innate to every person. Being kind releases a cocktail of feel-good chemicals in our body. But that kindness potential must be developed as an interpersonal skill. It is a skill that requires serious strength and courage. This is the real meaning in the saying “forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it”. It does not mean have no boundaries and let yourself be stepped on. It does not mean don’t feel wronged if someone hurts you. It doesn’t mean kiss the foot that kicks you. It means be brave enough to meet hostile energy with the opposite energy. It means use your free will to choose what you offer to the world independent of what the world offers to you. If you can do this, if enough people can do this, it will be a changed world. It is going to be a hard thing to do… to be the kindness you wish to see in the world when you are being met with the opposite energy. But you are capable of it. It is time for each and every one of us to practice radical kindness and to lead this practice by example. Kindness is after all, the invisible cornerstone of human happiness. And remember that no act of kindness is too big, or too small.