Thursday, 7 May 2015

Kindness, Growth and a Grateful Heart

The 100 Day Project, Day 3 of 100 Days of Writing... Today, I am writing in response to Laura Jane WilliamsAsk the Question project, which I subscribe to. Laura is the brilliant blogger of Superlatively Rude and all-round fabulous human being and today after regaling a personal anecdote she asked the question: Who do you need to look at with different eyes, just for a moment? What would it do for you to admit that maybe it’s YOU who has been unkind? 

Kindness, Growth and a Grateful Heart

I used to be a different type of person you see, a very different type of person and the journey from who I was to who I am now has taken several years, a lot of self assessment and reading hundreds of books. As a teenager and young adult, I was quite an angry, little (secretly introverted, but outwardly brash) hot mess. I was not very confident at all from adolescence, but I defended and concealed this with cynicism, sarcasm and often a hate of, or superiority towards those who may have (unintentionally) inflamed my numerous insecurities.

Basically, I liked to blame other people for stuff. Either they were a bitch or a dick or too stupid to understand or they made me feel like this or like that. It wasn’t that I didn’t blame myself for my shortcomings, oh I certainly did that in crippling detail... but I found that criticism of others came easily too. I never felt comfortable with it, not really, but somehow if others were also at fault, it felt easier to deal with my own self-assassination.

Now because this post is not meant to be a whining tale of my angsty years... I will move straight on to what I have learnt that has changed both how I look at others and myself. First though, it is pertinent to say that it did not make me happy AT ALL. The more that I criticised or looked down at others, the more imperfection I found in myself... far from ignoring the plank in my own eye, I built it with the sawdust that I saw in everybody else’s until it was disproportionately huge. And I came to the point where I wondered why I spent so much time comparing myself to others or reacting to them so strongly. 

The two words that changed everything, Kindness and Growth (some may use lesson or education but I feel growth is more positive). Simply put, to move forward and to get somewhere with our lives, hopes, dreams, relationships etc etc, we need to treat ourselves with kindness and grace. We need to accept our weaknesses, nurture them into positives and not berate ourselves constantly. In turn, once we accept our own faults, we are also more able to look kindly upon others; we can see their whole selves and not just the parts of them that seem to provoke vehement, emotional reactions in us.

The second point is growth, because once we are kind enough to our self and to others, we are able to look objectively our flaws and theirs, we can accept that perhaps they are there to teach us something and can try and work out what that is. For example, I have always loved a glass of wine, but in more emotional times of my life, I have often drunk too much to drown out thoughts or to try and enjoy myself in a situation I am uncomfortable in. I used to berate my excess and lack of control, now I have learnt that if I feel uncomfortable, I need to face that situation if it is important, or remove myself from it if it is only damaging.  It is the same with other people’s flaws; I have felt irritated at colleagues by the way that they have done things, which in turn made me frustrated. Only after careful thought did I realise that perhaps I was just uncomfortable in the work I was doing, my irritation at their personality was simply an extension of how I was feeling trapped in a situation.

I don’t know if I have explained this concisely at all, in fact it is probably far too verbose and I don’t claim to not find other people irksome at all, ever, far from it. It’s not a cure this way of thinking, but a practice for living that enables you to take a step back and regroup when you need to. When I find myself reacting to anyone or criticising myself now, I stop and think be kind, learn and grow and always have a grateful heart. I also try to think about where that other person is coming from in order to respond if necessary in the calmest, truest way. If you do these things you are never far from the soul of your true self and generally - I have found - the happier you will be.

*Thanks to Laura for provoking this piece... you’re aces...

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