Learning Kindness While Isolated
Sometimes you get so caught up in all your duties, responsibilities, and self-imposed challenges you forget to be kind; to your family, your friends, people you encounter at work or while running errands, and most of all, to yourself. In the limitless agenda you set for yourself, you barely leave room to breathe much less, for taking time to be kind.
You don’t mean to be short with the cashier, or snappy with your child but you set expectations so high that even at your most superhuman, you can’t possible accomplish them all, much less, do them well. So you get frustrated; angry, and in the process, you forget how to simply Be. You lose sight of the fact that you could actually accomplish more, and even do a better job of it if you stopped rushing around like a headless chicken.
COVID has, in some ways, done us all a favor. It’s forced us to stop the crazy, pointless rushing around, and spend more time with the people we love, be it physically or virtually. Social lives are conducted in living rooms, on patios, in garages, and dens instead of in restaurants, clubs, and bars. Families are being forced to get to know each other, perhaps for some, more deeply than ever before.
Taking the Opportunity to Evict Your Demons
Some are struggling worse than ever because isolation is forcing them to face their demons head on without the masks they’re used to wearing in public; without the shielding of other people that takes them, albeit temporarily, outside themselves. Those demons have been waiting a long time to be acknowledged, and will do their best to consume if they’re not faced head-on, acknowledged, and defused.
As someone who stuffed and avoided her demons for decades, I can assure you, this is the worst possible scenario, though if approached with the right attitude, it can also be the best. I used the distractions of work, social gatherings, and an endless list of responsibilities to hide from mine. Even so, I was isolated in all the ways that counted; my only real community was my daughters. I neither asked for nor was I offered support from the people I saw while dancing, my fellow band moms, or the parents of the girls’ teammates when they played soccer or ran track.
Thankfully, something woke me, not only to what I was avoiding, but to what I was missing as well. It didn’t happen overnight, and it was, at times, a pretty painful process, but I’ve learned, little by little, to start being kind to myself by allowing my demons to have their say, to acknowledge them, then let them go. I’ve learned what they have to say isn’t really true, but the result of people and situations as I stumbled through life which made me doubt myself.
I’d created a system of false beliefs I had to face down. Above all, I needed to learn to form relationships with people who could help me recognize the lies those demons told. In the process, I learned to recognize when others were struggling with their own demons.
Kindness Begins With You
Like forgiveness, kindness has to start with yourself. Until you can be kind to yourself; quell the anger and hurt you’ve carried inside for years; maybe even decades, you can’t be truly kind to others. In the first place, kindness has to come without reservations or expectations of something in return. In the second, it has to come from a heart that’s truly open. As long as you’re beating yourself up over imagined past transgressions, you’re locking the door on the part of your heart that knows how to give unconditionally.
I grew up believing love was expressed by teasing someone unmercifully. Until I became a parent myself, I was usually the target of the teasing, and my family was expert at going for the jugular. I grew up believing I was fat, wasting my talents (whatever they were), and a disappointment to everyone. I carried that burden long into my adulthood, and unknowingly practiced the same behavior with my children.
Not all the time of course. I vacillated between the cruelty I’d learned from the cradle, and being overprotective. Neither extreme was healthy for me or my daughters. Once I started facing my own demons, and treating myself with more kindness and respect, I recognized the way I’d been mistreating my own children, and was horrified.
A Second Chance to Be Kinder
I could claim I didn’t know any better, and in some ways that’s true but it’s no excuse. I see the times I sent my daughter Heather off in tears, or worse, gave her the silent treatment when she displeased me, and I cringe in horror. I hope and pray she learned from my mistakes, and will see that horrific family pattern end with her generation. I would rather her children grow up knowing only kindness, compassion, and even a little patience (something both Heather and I struggle with).
The Universe has blessed me with what I consider a second chance. The community which now embraces me has yielded many wonderful examples of loving kindness, compassion, and a level of love and caring I never saw growing up, nor in my ill-fated, and short-lived marriage. In fact, if I’m honest, leaving my ex was the first kind thing I did for myself. It was the first step in learning to face my demons, even if it took nearly a decade to take the next, and frankly more cataclysmic steps. In deciding to end the marriage, my primary thought was: “Life is too short to be this unhappy”. And yet, I’d lived in a state of unhappiness and even misery most of my life without even realizing it. From the examples I’d been set, it was not only normal, but the best I could expect.
Everything comes to you in right timing, or so I’ve come to believe. I try not to look back at all the years I struggled before I awoke, and at all the people now who are suffering and struggling through pain and misery. That they express their pain in the form of hate and cruelty is part of their own path, and not mine to change or judge.
Turning Crisis into Opportunity
COVID is giving so many a chance to be kinder and more compassionate. For many. this could be the cataclysmic event that gives them a chance to turn around, face their demons, and tell them to get lost. But so many others will get stuck and succumb to the lies. If you’ve learned to face your own, you can’t help but recognize the signs and symptoms. Exercising the kindness you learned when your own feet were to the fire is essential now. It truly is your responsibility to help those who struggle, and above all, to avoid responding to the outward cruelty and hate with unkindness of your own, unless your goal is to add fuel to the fire. If so, you’ll only become part of the inevitable forest fire, consuming everything and everyone in your path who doesn’t wield the sword of kindness and the shield of compassion.
Everyone has a choice. Love or hate. Kindness or cruelty. Abuse or compassion. Look carefully at what you’re giving yourself, and take this time of forced isolation to make a few course corrections. Look into the mirror and see where, and how you can treat yourself better. From there, it’s but a baby step to treating those around you with equal kindness and respect. Call me an idealist, but I believe all humanity has a stronger propensity to kindness than cruelty. It’s about breaking old, outworn patterns and replacing them with those capable of withstanding time’s ultimate tests.
Using Gratitude to Fuel Kindness
My gratitudes today are:
- I’m grateful for the people and circumstances that have taught me kindness is a simple thing.
- I’m grateful for all the good, hard looks I’ve been allowed, or forced to take at myself. May I continue to look closely and make more changes for the better.
- I’m grateful for friendships closer than I ever thought I deserved, much less would see in my lifetime.
- I’m grateful for laughter, for tears, for honest, unfettered emotion.
- I’m grateful for abundance; love, friendship, community, heartbreak, connection, kindness, compassion, opportunities, inspiration, motivation, dedication, peace, balance, health, harmony, philanthropy, and prosperity.
Love and Light
About the Author
Sheri Conaway is a Holistic Ghostwriter, and an advocate for cats and mental health. Sheri believes in the Laws of Attraction, but only if you are a participant rather than just an observer. Her mission is to Make Vulnerable Beautiful and help entrepreneurs touch the souls of their readers and clients so they can increase their impact and their income. If you’d like to have her write for you, please visit her Hire Me page for more information. You can also find her on Facebook Sheri Levenstein-Conaway Author or in her new group, Putting Your Whole Heart Forward