September 12, 2014

Is it Selfish to be Kind?


Have you ever put your toes in your mouth while trying to offer words of kindness?

And then you try to explain those misunderstood words so you end up putting your-whole-foot-in-your-mouth.

So, you take a deep breath, and repeat Thich Nhat Hanh’s saying—peace is every step–hoping that if you try again, the person may see how you hung the first sentences of graciousness like paintings on a wall, crooked but still an offering of respect.

And then—yep, that’s right—your foot is in your mouth once more.

So you sit with your words, trying to gather perspective but it’s hard to see when there’s an on-going silence, so you think to yourself—jeez, I feel really bad and I didn’t mean to hurt their feelings—so you get up and go for a walk right back down that very street where you stuck your-foot-in-your-mouth in the first place.

And then one day you figure that enough time has passed so your initial foot-in-your-mouth moment may no longer matter. As you try again to make amends you already know the answer, as much as you want to make things right—it’s never possible.

In this knowing you sigh with relief after all those times of sticking-your-foot-in-your-mouth—looking like a fool—that you finally get it. It being—in the end all that truly matters is that at least you tried to offer kindness until that tiny part of your soul half-hardheartedly tells you, that isn’t true.

Kindness is not something that you can simply offer to another.

Even though you’ve always believed that kindness is a selfless act as you want to see others shine and feel happy because you know that life is not an easy journey for any of us—life has humbled you into that space in which you’ve had to be fearless in order to survive, so you thought offering words of friendliness would be an uplifting gesture.

Yet now as you sit with that tiny part of your soul telling you that kindness is selfish, after all, you realize the mistake of offering words that did not need to be heard, knowing that you’ll never be able to take them back and gracious in the humility that comes in selfishly being too kind.


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Editor: Ashleigh Hitchcock

Image: flickr

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