Recently I was in the supermarket when a lady asked me to reach something from the shelf for her. I gladly got her the slice of pumpkin she was after and she commented on how she felt a bit helpless. I enquired if she was injured and she said she had fractured her shoulder and it hadn’t quite healed well, and that she felt awful having to ask people to help her. I of course assured her that it was no trouble at all, and that most people would be more than happy to help her. She then lamented that she would willingly help others, but found it very difficult to ask for and receive kindness herself. I left her with the gentle comment of ‘I think it’s time you learnt to be a gracious receiver as well as a gracious giver’. She blushed and agreed that yes that was what she needed; we exchanged a meaningful smile and went our separate ways.
It’s a reminder to many of us isn’t it? How hard do we find it to be a gracious receiver of kindness? Why is it often extremely hard?
Do we feel like we don’t deserve it, or it’s a waste of time? Sometimes we overlook it because we are just too busy to think about it. And yet nurturing ourselves is the key to being able to nurture others.
I’ve got a lot better at receiving kindness myself. The aftermath of the Black Saturday fires taught me that. So many wanted to help and if I insisted that I didn’t need it, or received it reluctantly, I soon learnt that I was actually doing the giver a great disservice. They wanted to do something to help and they had chosen me to be the receiver and I needed to respect and honour both them and the gift of kindness – whatever that may have been.
I’ve also had to learn this through my music career – to accept lovely, genuine acts of kindness with graciousness and gratitude.
With recent health events, so many people have reached out to me in kindness and I find that I am more able to receive these beautiful gifts and honour their giver. In turn I am then able to enjoy the kindness more and enhance its desired effect – to make me feel better as well. Win, win.
But I am still learning – sometimes that underlying faulty belief rears its ugly head – that I am not worthy to receive. Incorrect!
Sometimes I question the motivation of others – what do they want from me? Shameful!
Occasionally I can even resent the giver because they have acted kindly and I am for whatever reason feeling ‘shown up’ because I have missed the opportunity to act myself. Disappointing!
By being open to my reactions however, I can change them, and take the opportunity to be kind to myself and others; with abundance - being a gracious receiver, knowing that in receiving myself, I am also giving.
Here are some good reasons to be kind to myself.
More Side Effects of Kindness Published on May 30, 2011 by David R. Hamilton PhD Click to read more from David Hamilton
1) Kindness Makes us Happier
When we do something kind for someone else, we feel good.
2) Kindness Is Good for the Heart
Acts of kindness are often accompanied by emotional warmth. Emotional warmth produces the hormone, oxytocin, in the brain and throughout the body.
3) Kindness Slows Ageing
Ageing on a biochemical level is a combination of many things, but two culprits that speed the process are Free Radicals and Inflammation, both of which can result from making unhealthy lifestyle choices.
But remarkable research now shows that oxytocin (that we produce through emotional warmth) reduces levels of free radicals and inflammation in the cardiovascular system and so slows ageing at source.
These side effects all sound pretty good to me. Who wouldn’t want to feel happier, help our hearts and slow ageing? And it has to start with ourselves. If we can be kind to ourselves, we can be kinder and stronger for others – giving in ways we have not yet imagined. If we can be kinder to others, we can share these side effects with them too. Win, win.
I think three basic steps to being kinder to ourselves are:
Forgive yourself. Getting over this stumbling block is a great service to yourself and the world.
Take time out for your own health and nurturing. Plan time out so that you can rejuvenate and do some of your own healing.
Know that in being kind to yourself you are being kind to others. If you give, give, give, all the time and don’t receive (from yourself and others) you will burn out. Believe this and act on it.
We have a great opportunity to make a positive difference in the world, simply by sharing acts of genuine kindness.
Next week I want to have a look at further understanding what kindness really is (and isn’t).
Merelyn’s writing is supported in part by the sale of her books. Autobiography - ‘The Deepest Part of Me’. ‘Inspire’ – inspirational reflections for your life’s journey. ‘Stories behind the Songs’ and her first children’s picture book ‘To The Moon and Back - Grandma’s Rocket Ship Adventure’. To find out more about her work and to support her through the purchase of her writings and music, please go to www.carterandcarter.com.au