The selfish girl’s guide to being kind
Being kind. It’s seems like such a simple concept, really…
We’re told that we should be kind, giving and loving. If we can’t manage to do this all the time then we should at least aim for it most of the time. Kindness to others tips the karmic scale in our favour. It earns us praise from powerful people in our lives (the boss, mum and dad, the best friend, the partner). It’s also a great way to get people to like us because, well, we’re just so sweet and kind! However, there’s a point when kindness can backfire.
Imagine this scenario: a friend calls you right in the middle of a busy workday. You have a meeting with a client in an hour and you’re busy prepping for it. You mention this to your friend who brushes past your comment with a, “This will only take a minute.” 15 minutes later, she’s still on the phone complaining about her boyfriend, his mother, the moon and the stars. Meanwhile, you watch the clock with ever-growing infuriation. You’re appalled at her inconsiderate behavior. You even feel a headache coming on with all that pent-up frustration but you don’t say word because it’s not the kind thing to do.
Good girl selfish
So how do you look after yourself, get what you want and need yet manage to be kind to others? How can you create a life that reflects your beliefs and values — not your parents’, the government’s or your partner’s?
Well honey, you’re gonna have to get selfish. Pronto! But it’s not just any kind of selfish, it’s Good Girl Selfish. While Good Girl Selfish involves focusing on yourself first (just like it is with everyday, run-of-the-mill, Bad Girl Selfish), it’s also waaaay more than that. Good Girl Selfish is about caring for yourself and being loving and considerate of others, at the same time.
It might sound like attempting this feat is like attempting to ride a bicycle while giving yourself a flawless French manicure at the same time but it can be done (the Good Girl Selfish thing not the riding a bicycle thing!)
If we’re being totally honest with ourselves, we’d realise that being kind just because “it’s the right thing to do” isn’t really being kind at all.
When you do favours you don’t really want to do…
When you give with a heavy heart…
When you say yes when you’re screaming a “no!” on the inside…
…you’re being dishonest with yourself and to the person you’re being “kind” to. Nobody wins when you’re inwardly annoyed about helping someone out. You may appear sweet on the surface but you’re secretly keeping tabs on the favours that you do.
Who owes what to whom. Who needs to return a favour. Who’s taking advantage. Who’s a taker and not a giver. I know this because but I’ve done it often.
A while back, a colleague forgot her money purse and couldn’t pay her share of our lunch tab. I offered to pay and on the outside, it seemed like I was some sort of Generous Goddess. Secretly, I was thinking, “It’s the second time she’s done this in three weeks, she must think I’m a fool! What a freeloader!!!”
The truth is, it really doesn’t matter if she thinks I’m a fool. What matters, of course, is that I learn to draw the line between being kind and being a doormat.What matters is that I say no and explain (kindly) that I can’t pick up the tab (yet again).This is easier said than done of course. It takes courage, it takes confidence but it’s worth it because the alternative sucks.
If you don’t tell the truth…
You’ll end up doing whatever the other person wants or allow yourself to be manipulated while you simmer and seethe for months (sometimes years). You’ll waste your precious time, griping about how you’re the only do-gooder you know, the one who always, always gets left holding the bag.
The art of being kind
Over time, this type of inner discontent turns into a rotten ball of bitterness deep inside and once it’s there, it’s pretty darn difficult to get rid of it. Being a self-sacrificial martyr isn’t a look that suits anyone. It’s not being kind. In fact, it’s the opposite of being kind.
Truly nice people are willing (and able) to say no with kindness…
To disagree with compassion. To decline with love.
So when they do show kindness, it’s from the heart and there are no expectations.
Being able to handle someone else’s rage or dislike takes an enormous amount of courage but it’s the path to creating a life of meaning. When you do what you do because you believe in it with all your heart, you can’t help but live an extraordinary life. It’ll happen naturally. Your light, your enthusiasm, your passion will shine through.
You’ll live in sincere service to yourself — and to others — and that’s true kindness.
This article was first published on Pretty Smart Chick and has been republished with permission.