My mother often said this saying when I was growing up and it had an impact on me: "It costs nothing to be kind." Since my becoming widowed, I've often had opportunities to reflect on these words of wisdom. Before widowhood, unkind comments bounced off me more readily. Probably because I had my husband waiting at home to support me and take some sting out of the biting words. I've noticed that since living on my own, I am far more sensitive to the unkindness I've encountered. I think it is because I've become more sensitive overall having dealt with death and loss. But also that there is no longer a buffer at home to protect and help restore me.
What is it with people? Are we really that emotionally immature or thoughtless to want everything to always go our way? Are we so conceited and self-centered to feel entitled to always be right? To have to justify ourselves to prove a point? What harm is there in acknowledging another person's viewpoint? I just don't get it sometimes.
I've been trained as a counselor. To patiently listen to another person's feelings and thoughts. To put myself into the shoes of others. This skill should be taught to everyone, not just those in the social services field. No one seems to consider other people's feelings while barreling in and telling others what they should do, think and feel. Why is it so easy to give advice but not be able to accept criticism? Why can't people say they're sorry more readily? Why is it so important to have the upper hand and come out on top?
This is what I have come to strongly believe - that most of us just want to be heard and validated for our feelings. That's all. We're not asking to be right or for others to agree. Nothing big and nothing fancy. Just a few minutes of heartfelt listening and then some verbal feedback. Here is a little hint - people don't even have to come up with certain words or phrases. All it takes is repeating back the words you have heard. "I hear you saying that you feel this way about this and that..." How much simpler can it be? Why are the easiest and cheapest things in life sometimes the most difficult to attain?
My Mom was right. It costs nothing to be kind. I just don't understand why people are so stingy with their kindness, compassion and sympathy. What do they feel they will lose or give up by spreading a little kindness throughout their day, especially to those they know can use some?
Today I am grateful for:
1. Ice cube trays (talk about taking a product for granted).
2. Mundane office supplies like paperclips, rubber bands and hole punchers that we conveniently use without much thought.
3. The huge variety of music that is available to us and the convenience of CDs vs. the past modes of records, cassettes, etc.
5. Paper towels, paper plates and napkins.