What motivates your kindness? May 10, 2016 – Posted in: Personal Development – Tags: , ,

I once worked with a woman whose marriage was over after 20 years. She was absolutely devastated and had fought to keep the relationship going despite her husband wanting a divorce for many years.

“I don’t understand it,” she said, “I was so nice to him. I was kind, I was loving, I was the perfect wife!”

After some coaching sessions it became clear that what she thought of as kind and loving was not what her husband considered to be kind and loving. Many of her loving kindnesses were actually efforts to control him and keep him close to her, “so that he wouldn’t be tempted to leave”. Her actions backfired terribly and she found herself in the very situation she had dreaded.

Have you ever experienced someone’s kindness but it’s left you feeling indebted or beholden to that person? I would argue that it’s not a kindness you received.

You see, kindness – true kindness – is given absolutely freely. It’s a gift given in the hope that it will be received, and with the acceptance that it might, or might not, be returned. It’s something we do with an open heart, not grasping hands.

I sometimes think that the opposite of kindness is codependency. Codependents give something in order to receive something back (“I will help you so that you will love me”) and then they become terribly resentful (and bewildered) when they don’t get the love they expected as payment for their kindness.

But true kindness expects nothing in return – people who give freely know that the feeling of joy in being able to give is payment enough.

Be kind because it gives you joy to do so. Be kind because it fills your day with warmth. Be kind for the sheer hell of it and, you will, of course, get so much back.

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