If you were hurting, discouraged, angry, indignant, despondent, uncomfortable and/or generally blah… What would a kind friend say to you?
There’s a good chance what you’re saying to yourself (your inner dialogue) is different from what a loving friend would say to you…
How compassionate are you with yourself?
Learning & Teaching Self-Compassion
Learning to be a kind and compassionate friend to yourself will make a world of difference.
I’ve been reading articles from a marriage and family therapist, Kim Fredrickson. She has battled cancer, and now is dealing with pulmonary fibrosis.
Her writing encourages me – she doesn’t deny there is bad stuff. How could she? She’s grappling with her own mortality, along with a complete change in her ability to live life… And yet she is also able to point her readers to a way of dealing with that bad stuff in an honest, compassionate, God-honoring manner.
Parenting: What would a kind friend say to your child?
Now, consider your role as a parent…
Yup. For those of us with small children, bigger children, and grown children, we might find ourselves cringing a bit. (I am.) Have you ever said or done something while responding to your children that you wish you hadn’t? Do you beat yourself up about it?
She provides both the big picture and the practical with ideas on how to respond to yourself and your children when life is frustrating.
“Self-compassion differs from self-esteem.”
“Self-compassion focuses on being kind to oneself while learning from life experiences. Our inherent value comes from being a unique creation of God, not because of our accomplishments.”
Kim Fredrickson – “Give Your Kids a Break: Parenting with Compassion for You and Your Children”
Are you kind to yourself while learning from the mess-ups?
Everything in life is not perfect and never will be. Being optimistic does NOT mean we ignore our messes and mistakes. There was only One human who walked this earth with the ability to be perfect. (It’s not you or me.)
Yes, we do need to deal with our own mistakes and possibly address the mess-ups our children/grandchildren make… But let’s do it kindly. Please.
Give yourself a break.
Let’s try to be as kind to ourself as a loving friend would be…
Kim covers such topics in her book as:
getting kids to listen
helping your kids with fear and anger
skills to help children work through tough situations
and much more.
This book is an affiliate link – should you click and purchase I’ll receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I only link to items I feel will add value to your life. Thank you for your support.
Want to read more about kindness? Check out this post!
Listen. Pay attention as people speak about their life. That’s the secret if you want to meet interesting people.
Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t…
Bill Nye the Science Guy
During this week could you
enter every conversation
with the belief you have something to learn?
Do you hear what people say? Or are you more interested in talking – in hearing yourself talk?
Focus on listening and you will meet amazing people.
And don’t assume you can’t learn something new about people you’ve known for years and years – humans are complex! People change over the years, and if you’re not listening to their story you’ll miss out.
I challenge you:
be present (stop thinking about other stuff)
hush! (regardless of how much you have to contribute)
be still and attentive (please put the phone, keys, papers, etc. down)
And click HERE to learn more about the book, “The Kindness Quotient“. This is an affiliate link, which means you’ll be supporting me (at no cost you) if you choose to purchase the book. I only promote items I believe will add positively to your life.
… for gaining wisdom and instruction; for understanding words of insight; for receiving instruction in prudent behavior, doing what is right and just and fair; for giving prudence to those who are simple, knowledge and discretion to the young— let the wise listen and add to their learning…
What if you made kindness a habit? Habits are unconscious – they’re the showcase of our character. (And scientific experimentation suggests that if you do something for more than 30 days it becomes a habit.)
What if kindness became part of your character? Could you improve the world around you through your character?
Continue to be who and how you are,
to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness.
10 Simple Ways to Be More Kind
1 – Smile. A friendly face can make a difference in a bleak world.
2 – Be generous. Give without expectation of return.
3 – Start the conversation. Make a connection – ask a question and then listen.
4 – Give compliments. Everyone has good qualities! Let them know…
5 – Share what you love. Bring extra & pass it around.
6 – Adjust your tone. Sometimes it’s all in how you say it…
7 – Exercise patience.Remember – everyone is fighting a battle, even if it’s not apparent.
9 – Let it go.You don’t always have to win, do you? If it won’t matter next week… let it go.
10 – Be careful. Hearts are tender, even if the outside is crusty.Be more kind, regardless.
What would you add?
I’m sure you can think of other easy ways to exercise the character quality of kindess…
Let’s “UP” our kindness quotient this week – Be more kind!
Want to read more about the benefits of being kind? Click HERE to learn more about the book, “The Kindness Quotient“. This is an affiliate link, which means you’ll be supporting me (at no cost you) if you choose to purchase the book. I only promote items I believe will add positively to your life.
Curiosity and questions. Get curious. It might take a relationship to the next level. Sure, being kind is important, but maybe curiosity holds an even greater power? Curiosity may even develop into empathy for others.
It’s about asking questions – the right questions.
Curiosity and Questions Spark Relationships
In 1997 five researchers published a paper. It described an experiment they set up where strangers took turns asking each other 36 specific questions in exact order.
At the end of the experiment, it was proven by feedback that these questions created a sense of closeness. In less than an hour, some of the former strangers even exchanged contact information to continue their budding relationship.
Research in this area had already shown that a key pattern in developing a close relationship includes:
The researchers developed their 36 questions to make this happen.
The study, “The Experimental Generation of Interpersonal Closeness: A Procedure and Some Preliminary Findings”is here. You can read about how they designed the experiment and all the details in how they administered it. I found it really interesting to read.
I imagine it would be fun to do this with your long-term friends and your spouse. Curiosity and questions will create a spark in those relationships also – and sometimes our long-term relationships might even need a spark!
The “Sharing Game” – 36 Questions
Curiosity and questions – if you just want the questions themselves, you can find them below. Within the experiment, the questions were given in three sets. See the appendix of the paper to read the exact instructions on how the game was set up.
1. Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
2. Would you like to be famous? In what way?
3. Before making a phone call, do you ever rehearse what you’re going to say? Why?
4. What would constitute a perfect day for you?
5. When did you last sing to yourself? To someone else?
6. If you were able to live to the age of 90 and retain either the mind or body of a 30-year old for the last 60 years of your life, which would you choose?
7. Do you have a secret hunch about how you will die?
8. Name three things you and your partner appear to have in common.
9. For what in your life do you feel most grateful?
10. If you could change anything about the way you were raised, what would it be?
11. Take four minutes and tell your partner your life story in as much detail as possible.
12. If you could wake up tomorrow having gained one quality or ability, what would it be?
13. If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
14. Is there something that you’ve dreamt of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
15. What is the greatest accomplishment of your life?
16. What do you value most in a friendship?
17. What is your most treasured memory?
18. What is your most terrible memory?
19. If you knew that in one year you would die suddenly, would you change anything about the way you are now living? Why?
20. What does friendship mean to you?
21. What roles do love and affection play in your life?
22. Alternate sharing something you consider a positive characteristic of your partner. Share a total of five items.
23. How close and warm is your family? Do you feel your childhood was happier than most other people’s?
24. How do you feel about your relationship with your mother?
25. Make three true “we” statements each. For instance, “we are both in this room feeling…”
26. Complete this sentence “I wish I had someone with whom I could share…”
27. If you were going to become a close friend with your partner, please share what would be important for him or her to know.
28. Tell your partner what you like about them: be honest this time, saying things that you might not say to someone you’ve just met.
29. Share with your partner an embarrassing moment in your life.
30. When did you last cry in front of another person? By yourself?
31. Tell your partner something that you like about them already.
32. What, if anything, is too serious to be joked about?
33. If you were to die this evening with no opportunity to communicate with anyone, what would you most regret not having told someone? Why haven’t you told them yet?
34. Your house, containing everything you own, catches fire. After saving your loved ones and pets, you have time to safely make a final dash to save any one item. What would it be? Why?
35. Of all the people in your family, whose death would you find most disturbing? Why?
36. Share a personal problem and ask your partner’s advice on how he or she might handle it. Also, ask your partner to reflect back to you how you seem to be feeling about the problem you have chosen.
Would you be curious enough to try this experiment?
Does this experiment spark your curiosity? Would you try these questions with someone you don’t know well? What about your spouse? Or relatives? Would you want to feel more close to anyone in particular? Curiosity and questions spark relationships – a winning combination!
How would you identify a good friend? For me, loyalty is a necessary value. What other values would you identify in a good friend? Perhaps: empathetic, trustworthy, supportive, humorous…
Do you have any of those traits?
To get you thinking about your own ability to be a good friend, I’ve done some research. Here are five points I’ve found on how to be a good friend:
1 – Though you can’t calm the storm, you can walk with them through it.
Being there – no advice or fixing – can be the way you’re a good friend.
2 – Not the same kind of weird, but you can appreciate their weirdness.
Dis-similarity can be a joy – it creates opportunities to celebrate your differences as friends.
3 – Friendship doesn’t need to be a big thing.
Rather, it’s a million little things all woven together.
4 – Good friends will tell you what you need to hear – not just what you want to hear.
They’re happy when you’re happy and sad when you’re sad and can empathize while nudging you toward a healthier state.
5. A friend gives – knowing full well the cost – expecting nothing in return.
Being compassionate and giving while setting boundaries for both of you.
Are you a good friend to others?
Is there anything you’d add to the above list? (I’m pretty sure you could come up with more!)
We all have a ways to go before we’re perfect friends… but as long as we’re improving, we’re headed in the right direction. And sometimes it’s about being a good friend before we can identify those who are trying to be our friend.
How can you be a good friend – what will you change or do differently this year?
One of the things I have determined I will do in this next season is to pray more for my friends. Sometimes that’s the only thing a friend can do to help…
It’s rare to know how much someone else is hurting…
Even if you’re standing next to them…
(Regardless – even if you’re their spouse, parent, sibling, best friend, significant other, and especially if they’re a stranger.)
That person could be feeling totally broken, but we couldn’t realize.
Make kindness a habit. Always. No matter the provocation.
A few years ago I had a heart-breaking experience with a grouchy security guard at a library in Florida. We had been traveling fulltime for a while and regularly used the WiFi at the public libraries to work during the day. This was the only library, over the space of two years, that had a “be silent” policy and a guard to back it up.
He prowled the stacks of books seeking those talking out loud or on their mobile cell phone to “shush” them with a scowl and to point to the outside door. (Yes, he found me twice – I was “that” woman.) It both humiliated me and made me grumpy too, even though I was clearly in the wrong.
At the end of the day, I sat outside on a bench waiting for Rob to pick me up. (The truck was parked a fair ways away.) I saw the grumpy guard on another bench. It was so tempting to ignore him. And yet…
Be Kind. Always. To yourself and others.
(Do you ever get those inner promptings? I do. And I’ve learned not to ignore them.)
So I got up and walked over to the grumpy guard’s bench and sat beside him. I started the conversation about the weather. (You’ll find that’s often the opening line with a Canadian… I don’t know why.) Since it was Florida in the winter, the sun was shining and warm, it was a good start. Anyway. He began to share.
He shared his whole life story with me – I guess I appeared to be a friendly ear.
He hadn’t had an easy life. And the latest blow was his cancer diagnosis.
The grumpy guard was scheduled for treatment the next week and he was afraid. He wasn’t on speaking terms with his siblings and It didn’t seem like he had a support system around him. But for those few moments, I was privileged to listen and put a hand on his arm to convey that someone cared.
He told me he believed in God, so I assured him that I would pray for him. By the time Rob pulled up in the truck I had gotten a few smiles out of that grumpy guard. I hope, with all my heart, that my kindness made a difference. Even if it was for only a few moments.
There was no way I would have known his story. And his fear, hurt, loneliness, and isolation. I’m chagrined that I just saw an old man who “shushed” me. At least at first. However, I’m not going to beat myself up – I’ve learned from that experience. Hopefully, I won’t make the same mistake again.
Plant kindness. What grows from being kind to others is beautiful and nourishing.
Kind or Critical?
In case you were wondering, criticism is not kind. Criticism is like a poisonous weed.
I’m imagining criticism – that deliberate judgment of others – is like hogweed. Hogweed’s sap burns and scars.
If you try and mow or weed-whack a hogweed plant, it’ll just send up new growth. Isn’t that exactly like being judgmental? Start criticizing one action or aspect of a person’s character, and you’ll quickly find other points to criticize… And hogweed might appear to be Queen Anne’s Lace or Angelica, just like criticism can be disguised as helpful advice, but it’s not. Get involved in criticism and it’ll burn. And scar. You.
Plant a Garden of Kindness
Now, imagine a garden filled with beautiful flowers, fruit, and vegetables. It’s nourishing for the soul and body.
That’s just like kindness – when we watch others be kind, isn’t it a joy to behold? When we, ourselves, are beneficiaries of a kindness, isn’t it nourishing to every part of our life? And, when we are the authors of an act of kindness, isn’t it something we rejoice over with the other person?
Make this a day to sow seeds of kindness.
(Toss those critical thoughts/words on the burn pile!)
Your kindness has an impact. It’s more than just that act, it’s a seed for something greater.
Perhaps you’ll never see how your act of kindness changes the world around you, but I believe we sow seeds with our kindnesses from which gratitude will grow. Sometimes those seeds will languish, and do nothing. But there will be times where those seeds will grow into a blossom of gratitude.
If you see value in a being thankful, then create an environment where others will have specific reasons to feel thankful themselves.