In this blog, Dr. Lou Mycroft shares the importance of “Exploring the Transformative Journey of Kindness: Awkward, Brave, and Clear.”
Prentis Hemphill writes, “A boundary is a space where I can care for you and also care for me,” and that’s where kindness also lies, as a powerful force that can reach through noise and touch the heart and which causes no harm.
I am the recipient of many kindnesses, and I have been throughout my life. I don’t think that’s an accident. People, on the whole, are kind, and I am kind too, kinder than I used to be.
The shift came when I realised the power and risk of ‘kind’. As always, I got this education through the words of shame and vulnerability researcher Brené Brown, who got me thinking about boundaries through her simple statement, ‘Clear is Kind’. Until this point, I was unclear, but I liked to tell myself I was kind (sometimes, I was just not kind). I could disentangle my ego (“I want people to think I’m kind”) and put the other person on an equal footing.
The difficulty with being clear is that it’s a cut. The surgeon’s knife is sharp, but it’s necessary to incise the infection. It’s a kind of clarity. It’s a kind of kindness. This is the kindness I try to live in my life now. I can’t keep causing another person pain or confusion so they’ll like me. I have to like myself to make the cut.
Awkward, brave and kind.
Some kind things I have experienced which have been hard:
- Telling my dad he wasn’t well enough to drive any more
- Being told that I was making a drama out of something that didn’t need to be
- Ending a relationship which wasn’t working
- Explaining to an organisation that what they were asking of me was not possible
- Being challenged by a friend over something I was in denial about
I hope I did all of it kindly. Caring personally and challenging directly, as Kim Scott’s model of radical candour, also taught me. The alternative is manipulative insincerity or ruinous empathy; I used to be good at both.
I won’t share how it used to go when I was ‘kind’ but unclear. I remember it, but I’ve dealt with the shame. I live more happily with who I am.
Sometimes, kindness is just kindness. A gift of humanity. Something that all humans are capable of and that we learn to do by receiving it from others. That means someone else learns that kindness is possible when we go out there and be kind. What a beautiful energy that is.
You might tune into kindness today or tomorrow when you’re out and about. Resolve to notice it, reciprocate it and pass it on. When I’m low on hope, doing this reminds me of the great power we each have inside us to make a difference in this world.
Conclusion: “Awkward, Brave, and Kind: Navigating the Power of Clarity and Compassion”
In conclusion, the journey towards kindness can be both awkward and brave. Prentis Hemphill’s insight that boundaries are spaces where we can care for others, and ourselves encapsulates the essence of kindness without harm. As Dr. Lou reflects on her path, she discovered that genuine kindness requires clarity and the willingness to make necessary cuts to remove infection in our interactions.
The transformation to a kinder self-involved moment of difficulty and courage, like addressing a loved one’s driving, ending a failing relationship, or challenging denial in oneself. It’s a path that aligns with Kim Scott’s model of radical honesty, where caring personally and challenging directly is critical, avoiding manipulative insincerity or ruinous empathy.
But beyond these challenging moments, kindness is also a simple gift of humanity, a beautiful energy that can be shared and perpetuated. By noticing, reciprocating, and passing on kindness, we tap into the immense power we all possess to make a positive difference in the world. So, as you go about your days, remember the profound impact of kindness and its potential to create a brighter, more compassionate world for us all.
Dr. Lou Mycroft
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