April 11, 2024

The Fear of Being Kind: How and Why to Overcome It

The idea of kindness seems to be popular. However, I wonder when the fear of being kind became the norm. Has it always been like this? Is it post-pandemic? I think it’s a combination of things, frankly. If you’re unsure what I’m talking about, I’ll explain. Have you ever had something upsetting or tragic happen to you and feel completely alone? People are too afraid to reach out to you because…well...why are they? Have you ever been the one who is too afraid to reach out to someone you know who is going through a hard time? Do you know why? Hard times can be uncomfortable and/or awkward for us, but we need to figure out how to overcome that. On the flip side, great times should be shared as well, and with people who want our best, our cheerleaders. More and more, we are losing connection, real connection, with one another, even in the age of "super-connectedness." That, to me, is our real and ongoing pandemic. We are lonelier than ever, and that is the irony. Let’s discover the reasons and ways to overcome this fear of being kind, and be the people we want in our own lives.

Some Members of My Dream Team

Build Your Dream Team - For Good Times and Bad

Quite some years ago, I knew that I was not connected enough with other humans. Not in a way that felt deep and sincere enough. Simply being around people was not what I wanted. I didn’t want just a warm body. What I wanted were friends I had the ability to talk about hard things, and also to experience other people’s hard things with compassion and empathy. I also wanted to share things that made me want to sing from the rooftops with people who sang just as loudly as I did. These people I speak of are not a dime a dozen, as I’ve found, and I’m sure you know all too well as well. The importance to eradicate the fear of being kind and build a tribe, a village, a circle (or even a dot) of people I could count on became imperative after some particularly difficult times in my life. I knew that I didn’t want to go through life alone, mostly emotionally, nor did I want people I know (or even don't know that well) to go through it alone. Solidarity, openness to others, unification…these are things we all want and need. So, build it.

It's Good to Have Differences

Diversify Your Group

What I quickly began to realize is that people who really care about each other do not need to and cannot have the same thoughts and feelings about everything  No one needs "yes people" when it comes to growing together. Diversity is key. In exercises of really going deep with people, understanding them, and having them understand you (and each of your differences) can bring light to this sometimes dark world. Meaningful, deep conversations spark thought, thoughtfulness, insight, and so many other good things. A huge benefit of growth, particularly in the spiritual, emotional, and mental worlds, is that you get to go further with people than simple commonalities, and eliminates the fear of being kind to others. There are lots of people I have more “in common” with on the surface, but they aren’t my people. I’ve sought out thought-provokers who give me a lot to consider. It makes both of us better people, for each other and for others in our world.

Writing a Note to Someone - Action!

Time to Take Action with Kindness

I want to acknowledge that I know how hard it is to be surface-level with people if you’re craving connection and depth. It’s really uncomfortable and hard to not be able to show up for others. We know we “should,” yet we can’t or won’t, for whatever our personal reasons are. The best news is that we can change this. Our brains can change from having the fear of being kind to the action to being kind. And brains do change when we are open to said change. It all starts with one new action. Yes, action is the key. Merely thinking about change will not bring about the transformations you need to kill the fear of being kind. The world we live in makes it pretty simple and easy to reach out to people. We have anything from a text message to a phone call to a handwritten note that we can use to take that one step towards being kind to others and getting ourselves into a different universe where kindness rules and fear drools. What step and action are you willing to take today?

One of My Best Reciprocators

Reciprocation in Key - Give and Receive

Imagine yourself getting cancer, or losing a limb, or having a parent die, and no one reached out to you. They didn’t reach out because they were uncomfortable. How dejecting of an experience is that for you? Because I’ve been in situations where the people around me simply didn’t know how to respond (so they didn’t), I knew I’d never let someone else go through that because, my dears, it absolutely sucks. My efforts to become the person I needed in times of struggle and loss is paying off. I’m not perfect about it, and I allow life to get in the way of extending kindness, but I’m not letting the fear of being kind rule the roost. Spoiler alert: I’ve also had to place efforts with people who actually want to reciprocate. As in, find my people. So you may need to find new people, too, if you're not getting what you need from the ones you've got. I’m just the messenger - don't shoot. Anyway, my mode of reaching out is typically a text or a hand-written note, since I created my own line of notecards for exactly these purposes.

Here for Each Other's Wins!

Be There for Your People's Wins

Now let’s talk about people’s wins. This is a whole different ball of wax when it comes to reaching out and being kind. It’s the kind of kindness that takes a really confident and supportive individual, most times. There isn’t much room for the folks who have a secret voodoo doll of you that they poke and hope for your failures. Humans who cannot seem to reach out and be kind to those winning in life are even worse than the ones who are just too uncomfortable. If you have ever felt that tinge of jealousy, or envy in yourself…I get it. We’ve almost all felt it. My appeal is that you stop. Full stop. It’s toxic, and it’s gross. Instead, congratulate (sincerely) a person who experiences a win. There’s an old saying that goes something like: “if you have haters, you’ve made it.” Don’t be a hater, though. Support, through kind actions, those who you are connected to in some way. Kindness is free, after all. It costs you absolutely nothing. Try it on; you might like it. Don’t let the fear of being kind run your life or your relationships.

Dreaming About My Older Years of Beans and Wine..and Friends!

The Healthy Side of Kindness

There are all sorts of health benefits to being kind. Connection with other humans actually helps you live longer. Maybe you don’t want to live longer, but I do. And I want to have a good, quality life in my old age. I see myself eating lots of beans and drinking moderate glasses of wine with my old lady and man friends later in life. Doing some gardening here and there, and looking over a crystal clear body of water, or maybe even a mountain. Being kind to others will get you there. That image of me with my old people friends reduces my stress, and it will yours as well, but it starts now. Now is the time to learn how to be kind so that you can perpetuate this through life. I do have a saying that “you can’t kill bad grass” that I use in reference to miserable and mean old people who live so long (why does this happen??), but I don’t want to be them. I want to be the other kind: the kind type.

You Have to Make Your Interactions Count

Meaningful Interactions with Anyone

So what can we do today to commit to this journey of kindness? I’ll give you some tips, which will help with your mood plus connecting to those around you. Talk to strangers. Have little conversations that are meaningful with people who you may otherwise ignore. Maybe it’s your mailman, or the coffee barista, or the person packing up your groceries while you’re in the checkout line. Send a text message to an old friend that you haven’t seen or heard from in a while. “I’m thinking of you” with an old picture goes a long way. I stole that from Mel Robbins. Write a note to someone who you know is going through a hard time. I did this recently to someone I’ve known since birth who was diagnosed with a brain tumor. The importance for him to know I care came out with some specific memories I had of him was important for me to convey. I’ve done it for others in tough spots, and it’s made their day. This isn’t difficult. In fact, it’s pretty easy. Just commit to it. Commit to kindness, not to the fear of being kind, and it will pay off in spades.

Your Future is Bright, As Long As You Make It So

Since recognizing my deficit years ago in human connection and doing something about it, my universe has gotten so much brighter. I know that in my worst days and my best days, I have people who want to show up for me. Some I’ve known for years, some are newer friends. Years ago, I couldn’t think of a single person I could count on that I didn’t pay (i.e. my therapist). I vowed to change that, and I did. Even though it can be hard to do while you’re at your lowest, reaching out and committing to the kindness model of life will benefit you. Knowing you have to work for this type of system and way of life may seem daunting, I get that. However, you will not regret your time spent developing your world of kindness when you fall on hard times or want to share your good times. Trust me when I say, I’m living a dream right now with my support system. One that I didn’t think at one point I deserved or could achieve. My life is inspired and inspiring to others who are on their journey to making this happen for themselves. If you want more of what I discuss here, I’m always here to give a kind word. Just remember: you’re one step away from a kinder existence, and you’re putting the fear of being kind behind you.
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