And how it should be on the list of ways to survive and thrive when life is frustrating.
Sometimes, when we are hurting, we end up giving away to others what we ourselves need. Like patient listening, reassurance, acknowledgement, praise, gentle suggestion, hope, love, kindness, in the hope of then getting back what we ourselves need.
Or we do the opposite. We ball up and don't give anything to anybody. Either way, we may be left feeling alone, frustrated or depleted. And dipping our toe in the quick sand of self pity.
Kindness can be tricky.
Giving in order to get within the parameters of our healthy relationships is fine. Most good relationships are reciprocal. Taking care of one another, giving and getting at different times, in different ways.
And closing up can be a way protecting ourselves against rejection or further hurt. Sometimes that's a kindness to ourselves. Practicing kindness when we feel like closing down can seem impossible, or irritating, even.
But I think that kindness, small or large - for the sake of kindness itself, (not necessarily to the person who is part of our frustration - though some say that helps too) has so many benefits.
And there are so many easy ways to be kind. Inevitably, we end up getting back. Maybe not from the recipient of our kindness, but still.
Kindness shapes us. And reshapes us. It can help when we are angry, or lonely, or frustrated, or too wrapped up in our point and our pain. It helps us step out of ourselves just enough to do other things that will help us feel, be and live better.
Practicing kindness brings relief. It can bring feelings of accomplishment, of productiveness, of worthiness, value and competency. When we are feeling low, we can use all the good feelings we can get. To help carry us along. To get us out, even momentarily, from our own world of pain or angst.
I have great respect for anger, and anxiety and frustration, for fear, doubt and insecurity. I know there are many ways to get relief. And I am thinking that doing a kindness should be on the list.
Kindness to ourselves, yes. But I am talking about kindness in general. Even if it only offers a brief reprieve from OCD or panic, or addiction or rage. I think its worth it.
So here are some ideas, mostly on the small and reasonable list, but that count:
Say thank you to someone....for even the small things like taking out the garbage or holding open a door, or giving you your change at the store.
Notice and Express appreciation for something specific, or ordinary, for example, someone's kind words to you, or their delivering the mail, or for being on time or being honest or being friendly or working hard.
Notice and Give a compliment: on someone's outfit, or attitude or work or style. No need to be flowery or expansive, just genuine. Sometimes brief is best.
Give Charity. Give a dollar. Give a quarter. Give what you can. Drop something in the bucket of the folks outside the grocery store. Buy special stamps like the Breast Cancer Awareness ones that cost a drop more, but are an easy way to support the cause. Or donate online, or pick your favorite charity and send something their way.
Buy a flower for someone.
Cook a small meal for a stressed out friend. Or take some fruit to someone who looks sad.
Tell someone their kid is cute.
Tell a teacher you appreciate their efforts with your kid.
Call to wish someone a speedy recovery if you've heard they are sick.Check out kindness websites, like Do One Nice Thing or Partners in Kindness or Help Others.org
Have your anger. Have your point. Have your pain. Talk, rage, cry, write, walk. Talk more. And while you are waiting for insights, relief, progress, change, consider the benefits of small acts of kindness. You'll see. Doing a kindness will be like a small crack of sunshine on a grey day while you are walking on the road to better.