Many years ago one of my good friends warned me that I was too kind and admitted that she was worried people would abuse my kindness and that would forever change me. Though I thought this would never happen, I recalled her statement more than a decade later when I looked in the mirror and did not recognize the person I saw. A light was missing. The spark had dimmed. The unkindness of others had taken a toll on my spirit and was beginning to affect how I interacted with everyone.
That moment in the mirror was a wake-up call.
I had an acquaintance who operated from the belief that few could be trusted and it was “better to get them before they get you.” Even when she could plainly see (and admitted so) that she was wrong about a person’s motives, she found it difficult to change her approach. She was always in self-protective mode, and it was clear (to me, at least) that her defensiveness and abrasiveness were the result of people’s taking advantage of her kindness.
I did not want to become this person. I did not want to assume the worst before I expected the best. I wanted (to continue) to treat people with kindness.
Today’s kindness card, designed by Cricket, reminded me of my mirror experience and underscored the lesson I learned in “guarding kindness.”
Cricket, who designs simple and elegant cards, posted a “sneak peek” of the card on Facebook, and I admired the card before I knew it was on its way to me. The bright green and the red hearts in place of fingernails were visually appealing, but I loved the words which were typed on the card using a vintage typewriter.
“Guard Well…” by Cricket
Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness. –George Sand (Amantine-Lucile-Aurore Dudevant, née Dupin)
Kindness is a treasure that should be protected–given without hesitation and with no regrets. It is indeed a gift that changes the giver, even if it doesn’t change the receiver. But kindness doesn’t mean answering “yes” to every request or becoming a doormat. As I suggested in an earlier post, one can be compassionate while saying “no,” and kindness shouldn’t cost anything.
Sometimes, people have other motives. Sometimes, people are mean. Sometimes, people are so wounded from past experiences that they know of no other way than to take advantage or hurt others.
Their behavior should not determine how we treat them, but we must learn there is kindness in walking away.