Conditional kindness isn’t good enough

Conditional kindness isn’t good enough

In light of the recent shootings and various acts of violence going on in our country and around the world, there’s been a lot of posts on social media about how we need to love each other and stop tolerating hate, etc. This is of course great and I completely agree.

But here’s something I saw shared recently:

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Now while it’s clear the intention here is to be another one of those lovey-dovey “I’m helpful” and “I’m a decent member of society” posts, the reality of this message is no better than the violence it’s presumably against.

When kindness is conditional

The caveat “if you’re nice to me” is really quite dangerous. What happens when someone isn’t nice to you? How will you react? Will you act out in violence? Or maybe withhold kindness and call it fair? Because if so, your heart is in the same place as those whom I refuse to name.

We need to love people. That’s it. Love people. Which people? All people.

But what if they’re not nice to me? ALL people.

Even the people who are jerks. They’re the ones who are most vulnerable and most in need of love. And your acts of kindness towards them will likely make a bigger impact on them than on the nice people who share your religious and political views.

Whether you want to take a page out of Jesus’ book or Buddha’s, there’s a lot to learn about unconditional kindness that I for one would love to see implemented in our society on a much larger scale than it is now.

Us vs. them

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When we see people as separate from ourselves — whether they are different because they are “black, which, straight, bisexual, gay, lesbian, rich, or poor” or any plethora of other differences we can have —we feel less inclined to help them. They aren’t family; they aren’t friends. They “don’t even go here“. So when they’re in trouble, why should we come to their rescue? In fact why should we even be that friendly towards them unless they are friendly to us first?

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A better alternative

How would the world be if everyone took a proactive approach to kindness? If we all reached out with love for one another, regardless of the response we might get, or not get. What if we gave kindness without conditions or expectations?

Imagine that’s how you lived your life every day. How would you then feel if someone suggested to you that you be nice to someone if they were nice to you?

That would require you to now decrease your kindness. You’d go from being kind to everybody, to now only those who are kind to you. This idea would likely sound odd to you, and feel very unnatural.

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If being kind to everyone without conditions or expectations is our natural state, then we will indeed grow to find anything else unnatural and uncomfortable. The person I aspire to be creates positive change by being a light in a world of darkness. I aspire to give kindness to those who need it most, to those who need it least, and to everyone in between. And I hope the kindness they receive will inspire them to pass it on to the next person. But if not, I will accept that. I can’t control how people react or what they do with my kindness. I can only control myself.

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Who do you aspire to be?

Silent but deadly

Silent but deadly

Wow.  This post just woke me up.

Its called Silent Approval and its written by Steve Pavlina.

“Suppose your child misbehaves right in front of you, but you say nothing.  Or suppose you manage people at work, and you notice one of your underlings making a serious mistake, but you don’t bother to bring it to his/her attention.  That’s silent approval.”

At this point, most can agree that this silent approval thing isn’t good.  But then Pavlina blew my mind by asking this:

“What problems in your life do you witness often, but instead of consciously dealing with them, you turn away from them?”

To which I answered, “Wow.  Everything.”

Oh my goodness.  I am suddenly so aware of what a total joke my life is.  How many times do I sit around doing the same things, and then complain about them later?

As some like to say, “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”  It was Einstein who coined it, so I guess we can trust him.

The areas of my life which are bringing me dissatisfaction are piling up more and more as time goes by, and very few of them have I actually consciously tried to remedy.  What’s wrong with me?  Why have I been silently approving these things all this time?

I think I somehow thought that they would change on their own.

“If you want to change the results you’re getting, you cannot use silent approval.  You have to begin dictating a new standard for yourself.  Whenever you notice your new standards being violated, you must bring it to conscious awareness.  Interrupt your old pattern of silent approval with noisy disapproval.”

This is like what T. Harv Eker suggests in Secrets of the Millionaire Mind (one of my all-time favorite books).  He says that whenever you find yourself thinking a negative thought, think “CANCEL” and cut off the thought then and there.

So often we let ourselves carry on with negative thoughts or negative behaviors that aren’t getting us anywhere – or worse, are moving us backward – without so much as taking notice.  They’ve become routine.  “It is the way it is” and so on.

But I’m going to actively stay more alert to what I am doing (and thinking) and whether or not it is helping me or making me unhappy.  Afterall, as Pavlina says, “Silent approval makes your problems impossible to solve.  You cannot solve what you refuse to identify.”

“Silent approval is one of fear’s best friends” – and Fear has outstayed his welcome as it is.  He’s years late on his rent and he’s an unfriendly roommate  to begin with.  I’ve had enough.

Now that you’ve read this post, are you more aware of some things you’ve been silently approving that have outstayed their welcome?

5 Self Love Affirmations

I was reading Flamidwyfe’s Blog and was inspired by her post on 5 affirmations.  So, I took to Pinterest and found 5 affirmations I liked best from my “Truth” board, and thought I’d share them.

The things I post on my Truth board are things that I think are very true ways of looking at life – but they are often the things I most easily forget.  The ones below especially inspire me to live my life the way I want to.  Maybe they’ll inspire you, too?

If you make a post of 5 affirmations, let me know!

I started playing piano again

I watched the 2009 movie “Fame” the other day with two of my friends.  The storyline and acting quality were as expected.  But it was filled with intermittent segments of great talent.  I was especially inspired by the girl who was a classical pianist turned [incredible!] singer.

Watching that movie combined with my increasing awareness of my lack of hobbies and talents as of late – (I used to play music and sports and have actual interests and, dare I say, passions, but the last few years have been sort of blah-zé) – inspired me to play piano again.

So after scouring the internet for over an hour trying to find “that piano song Ephram played in Everwood season 1”, I finally found it.  I was just about to give up when I made a last attempt, making a random guess as to the composer, and searched YouTube for “Everwood Bach” and voila!

Anyway, the song is the Prelude No. 1 in C Major, and I think its really quite pretty.  So I learned it in a day and after many, many attempts (I would estimate between 40-60, lol) at playing it through sans mistakes (what’s with me and French words in this post?) I finally was successful at my recording.

And I thought it would be the perfect thing to share on this blog.  So here you go!

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part II

In Part 2, Joyce makes gives commentary on how we do something wrong and hold on to that guilt, and then do something else wrong and hold on to that guilt on top of the other guilt, and continue in this pattern until we’re dragging so much guilt behind us where ever we go.  What a burden.  What a waste of time and energy.  It wastes our time because we spend time thinking out it, and worrying about it, and what does it accomplish?  Nothing.  We expend all this effort, trying to sort it out in our heads to make sense of it and get some sort of closure so we can move on from it, but yet it never happens.  This is not the way I want to live anymore.

“Perfection involves growing.  I’ve not arrived but thank God I’m on my way… So stop thinking about what you’re not, and think about the progress you’re making.”  This could probably be applied to everyone.  We all spend time thinking about what we’re not.  A little of this is a good thing, because self-awareness is important if we ever expect to grow – we need to first know where we are and what we are and what we are not.  Its only when we dwell on this and acquire guilt from this that leads us to problems.  So instead, think about the progress you’re making.  Think of where you were a year ago – are you in the same place?  Some of us may be tempted to answer yes – I still live in the same town, I’m still at the same job, I still live with my parents, I’m still the same person.  But if you look harder, you will probably see that you’ve grown.  Well, I did learn a few new skills.  And I’m more compassionate now than I was then.  Being in the same place on the outside is not the same as being in the same place on the inside.

After reading Romans 6:10-11, Joyce says that we should put aside our lists of what we think we are and aren’t allowed to do – ie that which we fear God will get angry with us for doing – and that the closer you are to God, the more you’re going to instinctively know what is right and what is wrong, and, the more strength He will give you to do the right thing.  This, she says, is how to be victorious over sin.  So basically, don’t dwell on sin itself but rather live a holy life through God, thus getting the strength to overcome sin in the first place.  And you will grow.

When Joyce was living in guilt, she not only worried about her past but also what sins she might keep doing.  I really related to that because I have a lot of fear about potential future mistakes I might make.  I feel like I for some reason wont be in control of myself later in my life.  Like somehow I’ll make a decision I know I shouldn’t make, yet I wont be able to help myself when the time comes.  I don’t know.  Its not a very rational fear, but then, most fears are irrational.

Here are some of my favorite lines and concepts from part 2:

“When we go to God in prayer, we don’t go in our name, we go in Jesus’ name.”

Pray confidently, fearlessly, and boldly in your time of need.

The Bible says that we shouldn’t sin, but that just in case we do, Jesus has covered it.

To Paul: “You need some of my tapes.”  LOL.

And again she reminded me that God wanted to form a relationship with me despite already knowing everything about me.  Which is always encouraging to hear.

What did you think of this two part video?  In what ways have you grown in the last year?  In the last 5 years?

Joyce Meyer – Leaving the City of Guilt, Part I

This video was immediately appealing to me because I often find myself feeling guilty, which is often accompanied by depression.  Its not that I’ve done anything particularly horrible –  I just feel really, really badly whenever I do something even remotely horrible.  And I don’t let myself forget it.  It keeps coming back.  This is due in large part to the fact that I don’t control my thoughts (something that I’ve been researching more lately and trying to work on, as I think it is one of the biggest benefits I can give myself right now.)

I don’t know much about Christianity and have never been a religious person, but there is something undeniably appealing to me about Christians and their faith.  In the last 6 months or so I have been researching Christianity and reading blogs and articles by Christians, especially women.  I like what I read but there is so much more to learn.  I’m currently reading the Bible (do you know how big that thing is?!) and I’m following Joyce Meyer on twitter which is how I found this video today.

For me, my guilt isn’t so much because I feel I’ve disappointed God; its more that I’ve disappointed myself.  Or my parents.  (Which feeling is worse?  I couldn’t tell you.)  But I still found tremendous benefit in this video with respect to guilt, and also just to learning more about God and the Bible.

“God is not the least bit surprised by you or your behavior…  He knew everything about you when he invited you to come into a relationship with Him.”  This thought is comforting because having a relationship with God seems like a big deal and like something that should be earned or deserved.  And if we aren’t perfect (but who is?) then we can feel like we’re a disappointment to Him or not worthy of a connection.  I’m not sure if that’s how I feel or not, quite honestly, but it’s nice to know that He already knows everything about me, because in that is a sense of acceptance.  Because He knows me, and yet still chose to form a relationship with me, He must accept who I am and what I’ve done and where I’ve come from.

Joyce points out that if we keep the burden of guilt, we have no energy to learn and grow and serve God.  Now, even for those who aren’t religious, this can apply.  We have no energy to grow and learn, and do what we should be doing (whether its serving God or serving yourself or serving others).  The feeling of guilt holds us back from living our lives and accomplishing goals and experiencing joy.

Joyce goes on to share a humorous story about going on a “guilt trip”, which is a pretty universal experience.  The author went on this trip knowing it wouldn’t do any good.  How many of us actually think feeling guilt will do some good in our lives?  Yet does that stop us from doing it?

“Jesus has done everything for us that he’s gunna do – he’s waiting for us to believe it.”  This line really spoke to me because it made me realize that I’m waiting on something more to happen before I cement my feelings on Christianity.  What am I waiting for?  Jesus has already done all that he’s going to do.  And yes, there is much more of the Bible that I can read, and I can continue to form opinions as I do so.  But this line really calls people to action, which I love.  There comes a time – and the time is now – to make the decision to change your life.  The Bible is right there. If you want to go with it and change your life in that way because it will bring you positivity, then what are you waiting for?  If you want to go in a different direction, then what are you waiting for?  The point is, pick something and take action.  Stop wasting your time feeling guilty or doing whatever else it is that’s holding you back from being awesome.  Fear?  Fear of failure or rejection?  If its depression, that can be hard to kick.  But fear can be just as hard to kick.

“Guilt enters as a thought, creates a feeling, and we live by that feeling… If you’re smart you’ll say, ‘I don’t care how I feel, this is what I know’.”  That right there is the key, I think.  Right now I am letting myself be controlled by my feelings.  I need to change what I know so that I can have something better to stick with instead of getting stuck in a bad mood when negative thoughts come up.  And that is why I need to finish reading the Bible.  Hopefully it will have some answers for me :).

I also liked the point about asking and receiving forgiveness.  It’s easy to ask for it, but the real strength in that kind of prayer comes from trusting God enough to actually receive His forgiveness.  Because in that, you are completely letting go.

Note: This video was part 1 of a 4 part series.  Look forward to her other videos on fear, insecurity, and worry – which I plan to watch and write about soon.

Now, here’s some non-Christian-related words that I feel convey the same message to stop holding yourself back with guilt:

Believe in yourself.

Ready.  Fire.  Aim.

Whether you think you can or think you can’t – you’re right.

The only thing that makes it a part of your life is that you keep thinking about it.

*A few of those came from the pins I have collected on pinterest – feel free to check them out and many, many more that relate to this very subject.  And please share in the comments some of your most inspiring!