Being Kind When We Feel Unkind

I met the most beautiful soul this weekend. She lives wide open.

  • Curious about the world and eager to explore, she does not shrink from new-ness.
  • She welcomes ALL others she encounters, no matter their age, appearance or mood. I watched her meet total strangers, including me, with a warmth and optimism and love that was infectious.
  • Even when things didn't go as she would have wished, like hearing "No" or being redirected from her focus, she shook it off and returned with an exuberance that inspired us all to be in her energy.

Her positivity is even more impressive given her background of being abused and deprived of basic necessities like nutrition, medical care and love. She may well remember her not too-distant horrifying life, but she lives fully in right now & with an optimism about people that I find awe-inspiring.  

Everyone was magnetized to her light & energy. And we all recalibrated our vibrations to hers.

Despite her nightmarish history, she shared nothing but love. 

Her name is Petunia. She is a furry four-legged pup. 


Petunia got me thinking about Kindness.

I think of kindness most often as something I share with others. Or not.

While others appreciate it, kindness is first an act we practice internally. 

I watched Petunia charm with her openness & love. She's an equal-opportunity love bug. She eased nerves, she deflected irritation, she charged us up with laughter. She changed the chemistry of the room with her energy. 

Kindness is transformative.

But how do we practice self-kindness, particularly when we don't feel like it? When frustration or anger burbles & seeps out, it may well be understandable, but it almost never makes me feel better. Anger shifts my own energy to an inner toxicity. I feel sick in my own skin. That ICK dominoes into resentment & shutting down to possibilities for seeing a person or situation differently.

After eons of grappling with how to dispel the inner poison when my anger trigger kicked into gear, I hit upon this solution: SHIFT GEARS. The spiral of anger only takes us deeper if we feed it. We have to remove ourselves from it. Since I'm looking first at practicing kindness towards myself before I can hope to share it with others, shifting gears means stop what I'm doing + do something else. If I'm in a bad space or energy, walk away. Go to another room, go outside. Changing the scene, changes our energy. Best if I can get outdoors & into nature and move. Movement is healing. Thinking how to shift through anger, that's one approach, but thoughts got me there & thoughts can fuel that fire. Movement, letting my body take over rather than my brain, it's like pushing reset on my internal thermostat

Only when I can cease the internal monologue of vexation can I open my eyes to see the light in my own soul. Only when I create space from me & the thoughts/situation that triggered my reaction can I see that this is all only temporary, that in a matter of minutes the hormonal rush will have subsided, and other possibilities exist. 

After kindness towards myself, then there is kindness to others.

My cousin and his wife reminded me recently that my mom told them on their wedding day, "Be kind to one another." This was her advice distilled from decades of living it. 

This is a lifetime practice. Certainly it may seem easier when you LOVE someone. But when you aren't feeling you LIKE them, it might be more challenging to be inclined to practice kindness. At those times, I remember this: Shift Gears. Get back to my internal soul-connection, which lets me reset my inner gremlins and see a bigger picture. We each are in this life doing the best we know how to do. In that opening, I can feel my way to my next step.

How do you get back to a place of practicing kindness when you don't feel like it?

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