The daily goings on of a bi-polar wife. Ups and downs. And downs and more ups...
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Thoughts and feelings of living with bi-polar as a wife, mother, and person in the world.
Wednesday, 8 March 2017
Kindness as a way of living
"It is simple, it takes only a moment, and the opportunities are endless.
It is kindness in action, and while kindness inwardly benefits the giver, the ripple effect of compassion for others is boundless. The world is blessed with acts of kindness that have their origin in two simple words, Thank You.
Detach. Be an observer of your own life, and see yourself seeking out, and eagerly setting in motion opportunities for kindness. Share your gratitude as the beauty of kindness grows, and your chances to touch the lives of others unfold more and more every day.
In a difficult world kindness has great power. It is not simply a tool for transformation, it is a way of life." Brother Lawrence
I had to be taught what kindness is, and learn ways of being kind to myself. I can only speak from personal experience, but if I extrapolate away from that experience, I can only imagine that there are many people, like me, who have experienced judgement, violence and aggression, lack of care and concern, criticism, cruelty and humiliation. For what felt like a very long time, the world to me did not feel like a place of kindness. Also, my illness can generate very derogatory thoughts that constantly belittle me or fill me full of guilt and shame. I am really good at giving myself a hard time.
Kindness in action is gentleness, affection, warmth, tenderness, concern and care. It means taking the time to behave in a way that expresses Agape; spiritual love that transcends and serves regardless of circumstance. Therefore if you feel that you yourself, or someone else feels undeserving of love and kindness, you treat them with love and kindness anyway. And this action had to begin with me.
Kindness towards myself takes many forms. Whether it is allowing myself to rest, to eat a wholesome meal, to have a bubble bath, detach from damaging people or places of work, or to seek out help from others, I actively make a choice to behave in a way towards myself that expresses love. I have accepted my humanness and need for being held. I let go of the old blueprint of self punishment and become willing to be healed. Although this makes me vulnerable in a hostile world, it also opens up the possibility of inviting kindness from others and an opportunity for sharing goodness. By practising kindness towards myself, I also begin to see the need for kindness towards you. I am no longer isolated in my pain, I am able to look further and see your struggle too. It's no longer just about me. I am connected to your humanness and have a genuine desire for you to experience the beauty and wholeness that can result from an act of kindness.
Whether you sit and listen to somebody without prejudice for half an hour, or take someone some flowers, or send them a text to remind them they are not alone, offer a hug, share your baking with the next door neighbour, smile, say hello, or more recently for me, offer prayer and gentleness in a situation of horror when nothing seems like it's going to be OK ever again, just do it. Send it out into the universe. Because when you do it, somebody else will very likely do it too. Kindness is catching.
Living this way does not mean I am exempt from experiencing hideous behaviour from others. But it changes my world view and how I fit in to it, and by acting in kindness, it may well change your perceptions too. One act of kindness does not change the world, but if we all do small acts of kindness, it spreads. I become grateful, thankful, and see the expression of God's love in so many more places. I totally love being a part of that dynamic.
It also improves my mental health and sense of well being. It shows other people that through simple acts of self love, much can be achieved in my mental health recovery and the hope that it fosters in myself and others. Brother Lawrence of the 17th Century had it right, whilst he prepared food and washed the dishes. It's not about the massive crash, bang, wallop, and falling into the trap of selfish ambition and power. One act of love towards myself and towards you can build a glorious community of wholeness and peace. That gift is priceless.
So I will keep practising kindness, in the hope that you will treat me with kindness, and the cycle of selfless love can continue to spread and shine a light of hope for a gentle way of living.