Steffi Black inspired me this week as she made the world more aware of Random Acts of Kindness Week. I have been thinking about what I can do that is both random and kind. I feel like I am a kind individual and that I consciously take the time to support and help others every day. But, in certain situations, supporting and helping can present as very different from being kind. And being truly kind takes on a whole new meaning of fulfillment when the recipient is not expecting it.
Our society is filled with well-intentioned people who have been programmed to move toward expectation at every turn. Most of us have been taught to do for others while sacrificing our own selves; we have developed a pattern of helping others to the point of being unkind to our own being. We need not place blame on others as these are patterns created over centuries by individuals seeking love and self-worth. We are who we are, and taking the time to see who that is, and then responding in a way that is comfortable for us makes the difference between being willingly kind or expectingly helpful.
There is a very fine line between being kind to others and being unkind to ourselves. That balance is easily disrupted when we, unconsciously, put ourselves on the back burner over and over and over again. It becomes tricky because we are naturally nice people, and yet, if we are not awake to what is happening, we forget ourselves and become manipulated by guilt; guilt that we choose to agree upon. Yes, we are the ones accountable for the way we choose to react or respond to all situations.
The key to being positively kind, rather than harmfully helpful, is being aware of the difference between helping that is motivated from guilt and being kind motivated by being mindfully loving. I have found that slowing my thinking down and listening to how I feel provides me with a clear message on how I will show up; as a controlled helper or as someone who is willingly and humbly kind.
“When we give cheerfully and accept gratefully, everyone is blessed.”
~ Maya Angelou
So how do you get to this place of being randomly kind rather than guiltily helpful? Here are 3 steps that become second nature if practiced daily:
- When we begin to move from guilt and expectation, we experience our own unique, physical or somatic ‘icky’ feeling. Mine is a flip in my stomach. We need to be aware of when that feeling arrives; in this case, it is a message that guilt is moving in. If we slow down and listen to it, we can re-asses how we will proceed;
- If we ignore that somatic message, and very shortly after, an uncomfortable but, very relevant, emotion will creep into the picture. Depending on the situation and the person we are interacting with, this could be one of many feelings such as anger, manipulation and sadness among others. This is a second chance for us to slow down as something is just not right within the decision we are making;
- Both the somatic and the emotional responses above are messages our intuition is screaming at us to make a choice that resonates with ‘who’ we are. This is when we need to breathe and take some time to gain clarity about how we would truly like to show up;
These are the 3 steps, simply described, within the Arc of Intense Energy (used within the Authentic Purpose Plan), and they take us away from reacting out of expectation to responding from our Authentic selves, as kind and genuine individuals. This pragmatic tool guides us to being mindful about how we practice being kind to others, as well as, ourselves.
Shifting any habit takes about 21 days. Changing a pattern of unconscious helping to conscious LovingKindness changes our way of being forever as we become accountable for releasing the blame of guilt and being accountable for how treat ourselves and others, and maintain a balance within all of that.
How will you be randomly kind today?
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