When angels turned demons
What is Kindness?
Before I elaborate on this topic, I would like to define kindness and the difference between kindness and compassion first.
Compassion is outward and inward, and it is not necessarily action-oriented. It is more feeling-oriented.
Kindness, however, is a behavioral action that others can see. It is a social signal involving warmth, affection, and playfulness. Kindness involves expression through kind words, gestures, or even help. When people are kind, they tend to help others to feel happier. Mostly kindness is about helping others without expecting anything in return. However, there is still a dark side to kindness.
What Is The Dark Side of Kindness?
Kindness, in general, is selfless. However, when someone is bound to help someone else consistently, it is natural that expectations would arise. One party becomes dependent, while the other party becomes more caring. The caring may develop into domineering.
We tend to think for them. And before we know it, we take possession of what we thought was good for others and are in control of how they should lead their lives. Naturally, this possessiveness and control cause uneasiness in the other party. They will gradually break free from us. And we might feel upset and betrayed. The madness can go on; until we realize we have overstepped the boundary between kindness and control freak.
In some cases, kindness for another person may develop into an attachment to the person. Sometimes it seems like love. However, with no love in return, we might feel betrayed or at least sad and disappointed. We may develop jealousy instead of kindness. Before we know it, we might become ugly people.
Do we really want to turn into a demon?
Do we want to be that person? It ruins the virtue of our kindness and sympathy down to the core. And what is the bonus? Well, we get upset as we can get disappointed by dissatisfaction. Why? Because when we expect someone to do something, we have an attachment either to the action or to the result. And when our expectations are unmet, we are disappointed and sometimes angry.
So, we might want to ask ourselves: how did we get this carried away from a simple generosity to this madness of expectation and control?
The answer is simple. We tend to lose track of the original motif to help. At first, we felt the difficulty of others. Then, we sympathized. Then, we helped them. That’s pure kindness. However, when we do it repeatedly and get bloated with the pride of being able to help, we unknowingly develop an oversized ego. Or some might call it ‘self-image.’ Expectations come with the ego. We draw an image of what we think others see us. Then, we create the expectation of how that image should be. Sometimes it could happen differently. It may start with simple generosity and concerns. Then, we develop the attachment to the development of the person. We forget they can carry on with their lives. A need for occasional help does not mean they are incompetent or incapable of taking care of themselves or leading their own lives.
So, if you want to avoid the original kindness ending up messy, I suggest you ask yourself this series of questions to keep your awareness in check.
- Why did I want to help them in the first place?
- Did I help them already?
- Do they still need help? Can they continue with their lives on their own?
- Did I serve the original purpose of kindness? Can I let go now?
- When they don’t follow my advice, why do I feel bad? What is the real issue here?
- Am I done here? Can I move on and let them move on too?
Work on the awareness: we can only control ourselves
Or a simple way to keep our awareness in check is to be aware that we can only help where we can. However, we cannot take control of other people’s lives. We still can’t manage our own lives well. And it is madness trying to control others while we can only control ourselves. And we haven’t done well at that either.
Learning to let go of the result is also the key. We have served the original purpose of helping someone out of misery or making someone feel happy. When we have done so, it’s time to let go. Anything more than that without a request for help can develop into possession.
Self-love & be kind to yourself
Another factor is loving yourself. Don’t forget to love yourself and be kind to yourself too. You can’t keep helping others who don’t try to help themselves. When you are kind to others, you should be kind to yourself too. And when you see your help is no longer required, give yourself some decency to bid a farewell, wish them well, and move on.
This way, we can keep our kindness and compassion clean and pure.
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