The week 3 prompt of the Kindness Challenge issued by Niki of The Richness of a Simple Life was:
to radiate kindness
Isn’t that a lovely image? I loved imagining that for myself each day. Radiating kindness from my heart in a field of golden energy. I imagined it preceding me by a few milliseconds kind of energizing the way AND also sort of buffering the way for energy coming towards me to be filtered through this field.
This wasn’t very much of a stretch for me as I already have a morning practice where I imagine I’m radiating my pure soul signature energy outward from my heart; but it was rather delightful to add this extra layer, imagining kindness rays.
And how did it work? Well I certainly had a lovely week. But truthfully, and I do believe we should be truthful as we examine our behaviors and responses, I don’t often struggle with kindness. I mean that in the sense that I don’t often feel like I have to struggle to invoke kindness – that it’s some huge effort to arm myself with it, or some burden to carry. I feel like kindness and I are old comfortable friends and we’re comfortably attuned to each other’s energy. Kindness is important to me – I want to be met with kindness and I certainly want to be adding to the kindness quotient in our world.
But the tricky and interesting part is that I believe in sovereignty AND kindness and sometimes those things seem at odds with each other. And I’m always interested when that shows up.
I think it can be a disempowering and unhealthy thing to use kindness as a way to abdicate responsibility for your own needs and desires; and I actually see this with rather surprising frequency in loving people on a spiritual path. For some people it is more important to be perceived (by themselves and others) as kind even if it means feeling their boundaries have been violated, or their needs disregarded, or any endless variation of that.
Now admittedly this isn’t the majority of people most folks are dealing with on a daily basis, and yet it’s a large component of my world, and so that’s what I paid attention to. Can kindness be part of the equation when we choose to say no to things that aren’t right-fit for us, or when we have hard things to talk about? That’s what I particularly watched and listened for this week.
For myself I think being intentionally focused on radiating kindness made it much more graceful to say no to something that wasn’t right for me. I think kindness can always be part of that equation, but what I realized with more clarity this week is that it is a kindness to myself to say no when no feels right to me; it’s a kindness to be honest – not making up excuses or trying to “justify” the decision to the other person, but genuine honesty allows the person to understand it’s not a judgment that somehow makes them wrong; and it’s a kindness to model that honoring ourselves as sovereign beings willing to speak up for ourselves.
And in those cases where I bumped up against no from others, or something else that felt limiting, I really felt how radiating kindness allowed all of us to hold those situations without needing to revert to feeling hurt or judged or somehow not right.
I appreciate this is really a very limited subset of interactions in the scheme of a week, but it was helpful to feel like I was looking at things with a new perspective.
Expanding outward from this limited point of focus to comment more generally on what I thought about radiating kindness – I have to say I think it’s a delicious practice. There is always room for kindness, and our world seems increasing starved for it. So let’s radiate away.
As I was thinking about kindness this week and our role in radiating it, I thought about this bit of wisdom from Kurt Vonnegut:
“Be soft. Do not let the world make you hard. Do not let the pain make you hate. Do not let the bitterness steal your sweetness. Take pride that even though the rest of the world may disagree, you still believe it to be a beautiful place.”
That’s certainly what I want.
What about you? How has kindness shown up for you this week? Sovereignty? Softness? Do tell – you know I love to hear.