Week #5 of the Kindness Challenge was “choosing kindness” and what better contagion is there?
If only positivity could spread as quickly as negative things like gossip and poison ivy!
We see this every day on the Internet when the haters troll others with their venom. While we don’t have to agree on everything, mutual respect should be the standard. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case and the level of nastiness appears to be growing.
Kindness is a great antidote to all of the hostility in the world today, so choosing kindness is a way of rejecting the anger and offering goodwill instead.
One of the options Niki proposed was to choose someone you normally have difficulty showing kindness to and do it anyway.
An opportunity happened to avail itself with someone who I maintain a healthy distance from. This person is my ex-husband.
We were married for 23 years following a nine-year courtship. Thirty-two years is a long time to spend with someone. We had three wonderful children together, but I’m still sad that he never tried to conquer the addiction that destroyed our family and his life.
He recently spent two and a half weeks in the hospital as his health is declining. Along with his sisters and our son, I pitched in to take care of things that needed to be done during his hospital stay.
I was sorry to see the condition of my former home. I always worked hard to keep it clean and organized, but it’s no longer that way. Just as he has neglected his health the house is also in disrepair.
I spent two days cleaning up and an additional afternoon helping my son cut and rake the yard.
I did this for several reasons:
- For me – Because so much of the situation was and is out of my control, I wanted to do something positive that was within my control.
- For him – I wanted to show my ex that even though he apparently doesn’t think much of himself, his family still cares.
- For my children – I believe that as a parent we lead by example. I want them to show caring and empathy to others, even when it’s difficult.
It’s easy to be nice to people who treat you well. But, what about those folks who don’t?
It might be a rude customer or that guy who cut you off in traffic.
It could be a family member or friend who would rather judge you than actively listen and consider your feelings along with theirs.
Relationships are a 50/50 proposition with half of the responsibility falling to ourselves. I tried to convince my husband that he needed help and that I would support those efforts.
Since I couldn’t control his drinking, I believed that this was my 50 percent. However, I was weak and enabled his habit. Perhaps if I had been stronger and taken drastic measures early on it might have made a difference. I guess I’ll never know.
The following quote rings true in my mind:
People who don’t like themselves have difficulty getting along with others.
In order to offer love, empathy, and understanding we must first offer it to ourselves.
This is what I’ve learned and worked on over the past decade.
It doesn’t mean I excuse his behavior and the terrible losses we suffered as a family. It just means that I recognize the limitations of his humanity and the fact that we all have them, myself included.
Kindness creates an opportunity for compassion and healing, for ourselves and others. Our world needs a lot more of both, so the choice is clear.