Imagine what our lives would look like if we stopped trying to be good and started trying to be kind.Chidera Eggerue, It’s Not Ok To Feel Blue, And Other Lies
THIS. QUOTE. Sometimes a sequence of words sends my mind spinning. Kindness before goodness, says so much, speaking directly to our inherent worth as human beings. It takes an invisible weight from our shoulders, and says:
Stop performing, be kind.
Stop conforming, be kind.
Stop chastising, be kind.
Stop analysing, be kind.
Kindness is immensely powerful. Especially from strangers, where a smile as I pass someone on the street, a kind word from a cashier or someone unexpectedly lending a hand can instantaneously bring a tear to my eye.
These small, yet significant acts proclaim that I’m worthy of kindness simply because I exist; I don’t need to earn it. I may never see these people again, and yet they’ve poured liquid kindness into my life.
The pressure to be ‘good’, to say the right things, to be consistently well-behaved, well-liked and reliable is exhausting: it doesn’t speak of love. It speaks of towing the line, walking on eggshells and political correctness gone wrong. It breaks down trust, builds walls, making us feel like love needs to be hustled for. There’s no buffer for error.
Some of the most heartbreaking moments of my life have been when friends have walked away when I was going through a difficult season. Being rejected like that told me the dangerous lie that I couldn’t show people when I was struggling.
We all have our bad days, sticky seasons and we can all be hard to live with. And this is ok. It’s ok.
In relationships, I’ve also been told I’m a low maintenance girl, which I’ve since deconstructed with a friend, as at the time it felt like a badge of honour, but unconsciously to me, it became a prison of sorts. Because it’s an impossible label to uphold.
The guilt I feel if I think I’ve made someone’s day more unpleasant, boring or difficult is unhelpful, disproportionate and it’s NOT kind. And, it’s rarely even true. It’s borne of an unquestioned pressure to bring light and life into everyone’s lives. If I don’t feel I can offer that, I often opt to hide away.
This is revolutionised when I see myself as I am, fallible and hypocritical, yet worthy of love regardless.
In a therapy session last year, as I relayed my role in various life situations, Mr Therapist would often reflect back to me, saying, “That sounds like hard work.” I have a tendency to run rings around the relationships in my life, working hard to keep everything ‘good’, to ‘do the right thing’, so much so that I can lose connection with how I am actually feeling about various situations. Anyone relate to this?
This is more vulnerable than I’d normally be in a blog, but I guess that’s the whole point, right? Kindness should strip us of our need to mask-up, self-protect, and all the hyphenated verbs we employ in order to feel safe. But that supposed safety comes at a high cost. We lose out on connection with people on an authentic, vulnerable level.
Putting on daily armour, reinforces the narrative that we’re not enough, simply as we are. As Brene Brown puts it:
“Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. It means cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think, ‘No matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.’ It’s going to bed at night thinking, ‘Yes, I am imperfect and vulnerable and sometimes afraid, but that doesn’t change the truth that I am also brave and worthy of love and belonging.”Brene Brown, The Gifts of Imperfection
We need to be our wholehearted selves. Here’s to courage, compassion and connection. The Mighty C’s.
I could ruminate on this topic for hours, but I’ll leave it there.
(Aside) Oi Alexa, pop ‘This is Me’ on – I need dance this out like Meredith and Cristina, followed by a chai latte and a slice of my freshly baked sticky ginger, date and muscovado cake.
Thank you for reading.