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C11P77 Exactly

C11P77 Exactly published on 6 Comments on C11P77 Exactly

If you told me not to ask, I wouldn’t.
But in years of people crossing lines
You’ve learned not to draw them
Where they can be seen.

Feeling melancholy thoughtful today. I finished listening to Amanda Palmer’s “The Art of Asking” in one big rush. Faster than I wanted to, but the library loan due date loomed near. Afterwards I found myself thinking a lot about thoughtless actions.

Anger. Rage. Hate. Outpourings of vitriol and harassment. Self-satisfied, smug, self-righteous denouncements of strangers. Side-ways criticisms and snide remarks. No matter how justified we might feel in the moment, it’s usually a lot more about us than it is about the other person. Our own insecurities. Our own pain. Our own impotence, helplessness, and hurt, wrapped up and redirected at a target we feel safe in attacking.

I was re-reading a book that changed my life when I first read it. It’s called “The Wounded Woman: Healing the Father-Daughter Relationship” by Linda Schierse Leonard. In the forward, she talks about her own wounded relationship between her and her father. Linda was able to heal that wound, but only after he had passed away. As I was reading that paragraph, I found myself getting angry. I frowned at the book, and inside my head, I started having a defensive and accusatory response to the author. “Who are you to guilt trip me! Not everybody is in the same situation as you. How dare you judge me!” I thought. It gave me pause. What was I doing? There was nobody in the room but me. So, it stood to reason, that the only person passing judgement was me. Realizing this, I took a mental step back and reminded myself that the author was only talking about their own personal experiences. Not about me. It had never been about me. I re-read the passage, and found that my feelings of being judged had vanished completely. All the guilt I’d felt was projected, and once I recognized that was its true source, I stopped feeling the guilt as well.

With any hope, we all will look back at the times we acted like crazy, raving jerks, and have this kind of moment. Whether it takes moments, or decades. Where we stop to ask ourselves, “What was I thinking? And what was that REALLY about?”

No matter how much energy and seemingly reasonable thought goes into lashing out, it still remains a largely thoughtless act. Or perhaps a better word is “unaware.”

Kindness in the same situations, on the other hand, is rarely thoughtless. In fact, I’m not sure it is possible to act with kindness, when under duress, without specifically exerting one’s will to do so. Maybe when times are good, we might be able to act thoughtlessly kind, but when we have a moment where we WANT to lash out, but we CHOOSE to be kind, we are exerting a very purposeful (and very difficult) desire to do good.

If causing harm is thoughtless and unaware, and performing acts of kindness is intentional and purposeful, then what does that mean for the recipient of either?

When a person lashes out at someone me, maybe I would be better off if I could keep in mind that it’s probably not really about me. If I’ve done something in error, the people I love and trust will talk to me. They’ll communicate and we’ll work it out. They won’t try to cause harm if they actually feel there’s something I’ve messed up and need to fix. Lashing out usually only happens when the other person is at the end of their own rope. Or from people who are unsafe by habit, in which case the best thing for me to do is simply remove myself from their influence. No growth can happen with people that aren’t willing to grow. When a person lashes out, I’m not seeing them. I’m seeing only the default, thoughtless, unaware pieces. And those pieces are usually monsters and masks people wear, because they’ve momentarily forgotten how to be their human selves.

Whereas, when people are kind…well, that’s quite a remarkable gift, isn’t it? If kindness requires awareness and intention, then when a person is kind, we are seeing their inner being on clear display. Their compassionate, realized, present self. Which also makes kindness an act of trust, because that kindness can be used and taken advantage of.

What a beautiful thing it is, then, to be kind.

We’re all going to have thoughtless moments, but I hope I can practice cognizant kindness more often in the future.

I feel silly writing this. Like maybe it’s a naive ramble of thoughts. Is kindness really so powerful? Or is it simply a way to excuse bad behavior and get taken advantage of? That’s what the cynic in me wants to say. But I don’t think this type of kindness is without boundaries. If anything, it’s in a moment where boundaries are the strongest. Where a person can see someone else in pain, in rage, in a moment of thoughtlessness and think, “That isn’t reflective of me. I do not have to be the mirror to that hurt,” and then choose another path. Even if the path is just to be kind to one’s self, and give one’s self permission to leave, or let go, or simply let the hatred pass through and beyond and away. It seems like there is power there. I just…don’t quite know how to fully articulate it.

I thank you for your patience with my rambling musings. As always. That, in itself, is a form of kindness all its own.

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The Spider Forest Collective, of which LeyLines is a part, also welcomed 10 new members this March. I’ll be featuring the new folks in batches as the weeks go on. This week’s theme is High Fantasy!

20160314_tamuranTamuran, 20160314_soulsjourneySoul’s Journey, and 20160314_halflightHalflight.

What are your thoughts on kindness? How has someone being kind changed you, or how have you exercised conscious kindness towards others?

6 Comments

Children visit this site. Moderate your language accordingly.

I think my favorite thing about Pakku is that the things that make him so strange to other people are precisely what makes him so useful to help Una grow. I LOVE THEM AND WANT THEM TO BE BEST FRIENDS FOREVER PLEASE

And Robin, I thought that was a really excellent bit of writing about kindness and anger. Anger in my experience is almost always a front for something else the person doesn’t want to feel, whether it’s anxiety or pain. But you’re definitely right about kindness. It’s always a deliberate choice. You are so smart!

I, too, want them to be best friends forever. We’ll see what the future holds!

And you’re very kind to say so. I was mostly spilling out my thoughts into words in the hopes of assembling them into something coherent. I feel like I’m missing a very important piece of a puzzle and can’t quite find it. I’m glad the rest of it makes some semblance of sense without that missing piece though.

There is undoubtedly a whole lot I would normally have to say in response to this particular ‘ramble’ as you put it….unfortunately, I am sick, and this means my brain doesn’t work as well as I’d like, and I can’t bring those things to mind at the moment.

I do have a question though. How do you figure out if the guilty reaction to someone’s tirade is accurate or not, if you DON’T have someone who’d be telling you if you were doing something wrong? I feel guilty much of the time, usually about things I shouldn’t feel guilty about, and it’s difficult to sort out. I do have a couple of very good friends, but their lives are incredibly busy and so is mine, so I’m lucky if I see them once a week – not long enough or often enough for them to observe if one of my habits is in error.

Get well soon! Being sick sucks. 🙁

On guilt…I’m not sure if I’m the best person to ask, because my own relationship with guilt is pretty complicated on the best of days, but I will share my own experience and thoughts on it.

And to be frank…I’m not sure I feel like guilt is EVER very useful. I mean, guilt can be a motivator for change, but often that change could be prompted by other motivators that have more positive impacts overall. Guilt…guilt paralyzes when we need to act, it makes us fearful when we should be open. If repressed or redirected, it makes us project our shame onto others and it turns them into targets. Guilt isolates, silences, and endangers. Does it really drive us to improve? Or does it actually push us away from the opportunities where we could become better?

I can say that guilt is really, really, really good at one thing: Controlling. That’s why it’s so popular with unhealthy organized groups, whether it’s an oppressive religious doctrine or an abusive family.

Can we become better people without guilt? If I focus on my principles and morals, and push myself to evaluate those verses my own behavior regularly, couldn’t I improve that way? When I feel guilt, it usually makes it harder for me to change, rather than easier. It gets in the way when I attempt to apply principles. In fact, it drowns out principles entirely, because then I’m paying attention to the guilt instead of the person I want to be. If I’m able to resolve to do better next time, and carry that resolution forward, then my behavior in a similar situation is usually better as well, because I’m focused on what I need to do, rather than what I’m afraid of repeating.

Or let’s say there’s some big project I want to do. When I focus on being passionate and excited about that project, it’s easy and joyful. When I get tired and perfectionist, that’s when the guilt comes out. “Why isn’t this done yet? This isn’t good enough, you need to do better. Work harder. You’re lazy. You’re selfish. You’re incompetent and stupid. You’re wasting everyone’s time.” Does this guilt make me perform better? No, it just means that if I listen to it, I won’t take care of myself, and my work will suffer.

I’m not the best with seeing friends regularly. Cory and I are usually very busy with one project or show or another. Does guilt help me keep in touch? Again, nope. I see an email or call from them, feel guilty, and because I feel bad I feel like I don’t have the energy to reply, so I don’t. Which makes me feel guilty again. Or I’ll feel guilty, it will push me to agree to something I don’t want to do, or am not really able to do, so I’m not much fun to be around when I do it. Or I’ll feel guilty when I’m there, and conversation becomes stilted and hard. Whereas, if I focus on how much I enjoyed their company the last time I saw them, I feel energized. I’m more likely to reach out of my own accord and suggest something that works for both of us. I’m more able to be present when I’m with them, and everything is easier.

I can’t think of a single way in which the guilt I feel actually makes me a better person. In every case, there are better ways to spur better behavior, and in every case, those actually let me move forward in a healthier way. Guilt is a weight that whispers in my ear, even as I write this, that I’m wrong. I’m stupid. I’m no good. I’m just hiding from the truth, that without guilt I’d be a horrible person. That “bad” is the default from which guilt saves me.

Considering that guilt has an investment in making sure I believe that, so it can survive and thrive and dominate (control!) my behavior, I think it’s pretty valid to say guilt isn’t the piece of myself I want to listen to.

Morals, faith, love, compassion, kindness, passion, joy…all of these help me to grow. None of them seek to control me when they do.

I can say one thing for sure – well, two things:
One – Pakku and Una are going to be BFFs, if not necessarily vitriolically.
Two – I promise I will never tire of reading the things you write. ^^ You’ve pretty much gotten it right, too – kindness is the triumph, not anger.
*Optional!Hugs*

I suspect BFFness will be in their future someday, although I cannot guarantee there won’t be some bumps in that road. Neither are really used to the entire “friend” concept.

I like how you put that. “Kindness is the triumph.” Sometimes it doesn’t feel that way in the moment, but that is what it becomes for the future.

*Optional!HugsBack!*

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