Hi everyone. Here's my first post, hopefully the first of many. I hope it helps you.
Lots of people hate driving but I don't. I find it great for many mental meanderings. Not so long ago, I was trying to come up with an idea for a self-development blog while sitting in traffic. I was toying with how kindness benefits our mental health. Then it hit me - why not write a post on how kindness can be cruel, how it can kill.
I can forgive you for thinking I have a leaky brain but permit me to explain. It's obvious that cruelty is a harmful thing. None of us likes to be at the receiving end of a hurtful comment, another’s gossip or their dishonesty. It's worse again if it affects our physical or mental wellbeing.
But what about acts of kindness - those perceived to be so - which can do the same? And I'm not talking about someone who pretends to be kind while having ulterior motives. I'm talking about well-meaning people, even our loved ones.
Take the overweight person who is continually offered unhealthy and weight gaining food. There's also the well-intentioned kindness of seconds at meal times, too. Even though they might protest, the well-intentioned feeder usually wins out. And becoming fat doesn’t stop there. There's a host of health issues which help them die prematurely: heart disease, a stroke, cancer to name but the obvious.
But before that happens they develop other unpleasant health problems like aching joints. And what about the morbidly obese person who cannot leave their own home. Who do you think keeps feeding them the unhealthy food which helps them remain trapped in a body of fat? And they continue to do so as the person grows larger and unhealthier each day?
The slow downward spiral of misery ends where? The grave, that's where. Did their loved ones slowly murder them? Where they intent on killing them? Of course not, but they enabled their loved one, and helped them meet an early death.
This is an extreme example, granted, but it illustrates the point. There are also many other ways we can kill with kindness. I once behaved badly, hurt a dear friend of mine. The fault was mine; he was completely innocent. No matter how much I tried to make it up to him, I knew our friendship would never be the same, even though he had forgiven me.
While I was stewing over what happened, who do you think supported me in my lies? You got it: most of my friends. They sympathised saying I was right to feel the way I did. And a few also took me out to for some drinks to help cheer me up.
There were only two friends who were brutally honest. They were the only two who helped me see the wrong I had done and the hurt I had caused. Thankfully, it gave me the psycho-emotional shake I needed to reflect on my behaviour. Shortly afterwards, I went to my friend, cap in hand, and asked for his forgiveness. I cried a great deal before I went to see him while I was with him and several times afterwards. I was so shocked and sorry for what I had done, now that reality had hit home.
If it hadn’t been for those two friends, I would have remained in my lies. I would have had the excuses and self-justification to nurse the pseudo-harm inside. Bitterness could have gnawed away at my soul. And we all know bitterness doesn't remain unbiased. It has a way of creeping into all our thinking and all our relationships. In time, it erodes happiness and destroys peace of mind.
Though my other friends meant well, it was their misplaced kindness which contributed to my anger and unbridled ego. They didn’t like to see me hurting, so they tried to help and comfort me, though in an unhealthy way.
The real kindness, however, helped me confront my wrongdoing. I saw the truth of the matter and, as the adage says, the truth set me free. It humbled me, seared my ego, but as a result, I now learn to reflect before I speak. I also explore a person’s actions and motives instead of assuming the worst.
I also learnt kindness is not some fuzzy-wuzzy quality we should use for a feel-good factor. Integrity and truth should rule our use of kindness whilst rooting it in compassion. Our emotions must not govern it like the lapping of the sea, the ebb and flow of the tides.
After all, our emotions come and go, are not fixed, not solid. But truth, integrity and compassion are, and they are long lasting. So, is it not better to tell each other the truth? We can still do that in a kind and compassionate way, can't we?