Theoretically being kind should make the recipient/s and giver happy and joyful - such as when you compliment your best friend on their hairstyle, or you cook dinner for your spouse, or you offer to carry the old lady's grocery bags to her car .... both party's feel a sense of good human connection, relationships strengthen, and your self-esteem improves. But can kindness be taken too far? Is it possible that kindness can turn into .... an unkindness?
I believe there are a few ways this can happen .....
I am sure we all know someone who is a .... "people pleaser," (I am going to be honest here and say I used to be one of those people, and perhaps you used to be one too). They are people who just can't say no, to anything, cause if they say no that person won't like them anymore, right? Cause to help people in any way they wish to be helped is being kind .... right? Right??
Have you also tried to be kind to someone who you felt needed some kindness and they snapped back at you to leave them alone, or to go away? Though your intention was good, it wasn't quite what they needed in the moment? Perhaps there was an element of assumption or forcefulness in the kind act.
Sometimes, (and this is something I have had to be aware of in my "kindness" month), as the giver of kindness, if you "over-give" kindness it could come across as a bit fake, or inauthentic. This could lead to people not trusting you or thinking that you have ulterior motives.
This is kindness turning into unkindness.
Unkindness, to not only the recipient, but also to yourself, and not unkindness in a mean or nasty way, but in a slightly inappropriate and forceful way.
So how can you ensure that when being kind you are being authentically kind, sensitive to the other person and the situation, and also taking your own self (emotional, physical, and financial) needs into consideration.
I think the trick is to set boundaries around your limitations (learn when it is appropriate to say no), be mindful of other peoples circumstances (does that person really need a big expensive gift, or do they just need a shoulder to cry on), and be kind, in small, regular doses. Don't sweat the big stuff, you don't have to do anything big and show-offy to prove you are a kind person. Here are some ideas for authentic, small, caring, doses of kindness you can implement each day, without that kindness becoming an unkindness:
Compliment the first person you see today.
Pay for the coffee for the person behind you in line in Starbucks.
Say hello to a homeless person and ask them if you can get them a sandwich or hot tea.
Say I love you every morning to your spouse, children, or best friend.
Wash up the dishes when someone else has cooked you a meal.
Open and/or hold the door for someone behind you.
Call someone you know is lonely.
Let someone out of a side street whilst driving.
Give flowers to someone .... just because.
And don't forget about yourself - have a piece of chocolate, take time out to read a book, have a bubble bath, cook a delicious meal for one, compliment yourself about your character, body, or actions that day, give yourself a foot massage, and have an early night.
Let me know what kind things you have been up too today and if you resonate with any of the unintentional "unkindness" scenarios.