Let's talk about kindness. I've received a lot of questions over the last 24 hours. I thought we could spend some time talking about some of them.
Day 1 - Questions about Kindness - Isn't kindness really just being a doormat?
No. We use the term "doormat" to define someone who let's other people walk all over him or her. This is usually the outcome of being taught to be "nice" as a child.
Niceness is not Kindness.
Niceness is taught to young people as a social norm. It instructs/demands two specific things -- be passive, no matter what happens, and you are responsible for someone else's behavior. "Be nice" is usually said when someone else wants to invade another person's psychic, mental, or physical boundaries. (That's the passivity.) If someone blows up at you, it's your fault because you weren't nice enough. People who are doormats tend to be very nice people.
Kindness is something all together.
Where niceness is passive, kindness is active. It is something to DO. If we are kind, we commit kind acts like letting someone merge in or checking in on friends or shoveling your elderly neighbors snow or wearing a mask or sharing your garden bounty or simply cheering other people on.
You can be kind to someone while still maintaining the sanctity of your own boundaries. WTF? Right? This looks like:
Creepy uncle: "Give me a hug."
Niece/nephew: "I don't feel comfortable" or simply "No"; "but I will (talk to you, shake your hand, play a card game with you, etc.)" Or simply "I don't want to."
But that's not nice, right? Who is the child being kind to here? Can you guess?
The child is being kind to themselves. A kind person counts themselves into the equation.
Remember, kindness is a doing action.
You can be kind and tell someone the truth. "You drink too much." "I love you but you're driving me crazy."
You can be kind and stand up for yourself. "I don't feel comfortable with this."
You can be kind and want to murder the head of the neo-nazi group in the line ahead of you in the grocery store. Yes, this happened to me. Did I murder him? No. Did I tower over his scrawny little ass? Yes. Did I sneer at him when he was impolite to the African American clerk? Yes. Did he run out of the place? Yes. Who was I kind to -- myself, the clerk, the freakin' world.
Let's talk. What do you think? How do Kindness and Niceness get confused in your life?