Kindness and Compassion

It seems to be a common theme during this series on being intentional, but I’m about to disclose something about myself that makes me feel all kinds of anxiety and embarrassment.

One of my toughest struggles is with showing kindness and compassion.

It’s not that I don’t feel it, because I do. Kindness, that is. I don’t usually feel compassion, which means I’m not really being as kind as I think I am to people.

To sum up my life, I’ll tell you something my husband said to me not long ago: “I don’t know how you do it. I don’t know how you’ve survived. With everything you’ve been through in life, it’s amazing that you aren’t more screwed up than you are. It would be justified.”

So.

Is that a compliment or an insult? I’m not sure. He’s also given me one of the greatest compliments I have ever received: “Mentally, you are the strongest person I know.” So I’m leaning toward compliment.

He’s right about saying I’ve been through a lot in 32 years – more than most people experience in a lifetime. To say it’s been easy would be inaccurate. To say I get along just fine with no scars or damage would be a lie.

The damage is my relationships with other people.

The scars keep me from allowing myself to open up and be vulnerable (which is why this whole series is absolutely terrifying me daily).

Not showing vulnerability or weakness means I also don’t show a lot of compassion. I’ll be the first to admit that I come across as a hard-ass most of the time. I don’t want to be that way. I want to be better. I want to react differently.

But I continue to use the excuse of “if I can get through all of this, then I don’t feel bad for them for going through that.”

What kind of response is that? Not a good one, Internet. Not a good one.

So that has to change.

And the good news is that it will change. We can learn to be kinder. We can be intentional about showing kindness and compassion. We train ourselves every day by the things we repeatedly say and do.

When I am constantly focused on being frustrated, angry, unhappy, or otherwise stuck in a negative reaction, I get better that that. If I focus on being kind and caring and compassionate, I will get better at that. What I practice and what I put out there is my choice. I choose to be intentional about this, especially in my most difficult moments.

One of my biggest struggles is that I am so hard on myself. In being more kind to myself, I will be able to be more kind to others. I will be able to show compassion and love, and that is what I so desire to do.

As I’ve written this post, I’ve found myself getting emotional (with tears and everything), which is WAY outside the norm for me. It’s because of the kindness of others. This is only day 10 of the 31 days and I have already found myself lifted up by some truly amazing women. Honest, warm, thoughtful, insightful emails have come into my inbox and have made such an impact on me that I will never be able to properly thank them. I’ve gotten comments and tweets from people who are going through similar things or who can relate to something I’ve said. The love and kindness others have shown me has been inspiring, powerful, courageous, and wise. The kindness shown by others has made the struggle of being so vulnerable endurable.

It is proof positive that the kindness you offer to others affects what happens in the very next moment. Because of the kindness of some very special people, I have been able to get real with myself and others. The kindness shown to me will be shown to others who come into (or are already in) my life.

I choose to start showing kindness and compassion.

I choose to change the hearts and lives of others with even just a few kind words, like mine has been changed in such a short time by others.

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This post is part of the 31 Days of Intention series. You can see other posts in this series here.