Kindness and Grace, When It’s Hard

It’s easy to be kind and full of grace when things are easy. What does it take to show kindness when things are hard? How do you respond when what you hold dear has been triggered? My uncle and my dad used to say, “It doesn’t cost anything to be kind.” It seems like such an obvious and common sense idea. I wonder what it takes to remember that simple statement when things are not going your way.

This is an entirely different post than I’ve ever written. I don’t have any answers, but want to share what’s been whirling around in my head. I suspect I’m not alone. I’ve been thinking a lot about how to hold onto my own beliefs without being against people who hold opposing beliefs. How can I model grace when inside I am jangled, frustrated and feel helpless?

The question for me is, how can I remember to show kindness and grace in the face of such upheaval and jarring times this year? How can I remember to stand firmly in what I know without wanting to defend, justify, or prove my position? This is applicable to daily life and business. How do you remember to be kind, even when your heart is breaking? This is a serious question and I would love an answer from you.

It’s easy for me to blah, blah, blah about things in the abstract and say “be kind and have grace” even when things are going badly. But, the question is, how do you do that? What would it mean to you to model kindness? How would you feel if you were graceful when it felt like you were under fire? What difference would it make in your life if you were kind rather than having a knee-jerk reaction?

In the book, Living On Purpose, there is a chapter entitled, “There are No Seams.” It means that everything is connected. So, in the case of kindness and grace or lack thereof, it means that when I am agitated by the news and forget to be kind, it spills over into my personal life and relationships. Thus, remembering to be kind, even in the quiet of my own mind is beneficial to me and others.

I think sometimes we confuse being kind and showing grace as meaning that we agree with or don’t care about the issue. It feels like giving in or surrendering. I heard a definition of surrender last week that really struck me. Jeffrey Van Dyk said, “Surrender is not giving up. Surrender is giving up the fight.” It’s our own resistance to surrendering that creates such internal turmoil.

So, what does that have to do with kindness and grace? When we surrender to “what is” we have choices and can take action, which is very different than reacting to something and the injustice of it all. I find that when I am agitated it is much easier for me to react rather than step back, be kind, and act with grace. What if, instead, I listened with curiosity and then responded?

I told someone today I’m surprised I don’t have whiplash from all of my eye-rolling lately and the continual, “ugh” response to the news. I believe I am an inherently kind person and yet I don’t always show kindness when I am confronted by things that push my buttons. I often default to defending, justifying, or proving. This week I will commit to being kind in the face of things that have elicited an eye roll or an internal “ugh” in the past. I may have to post sticky notes around the house to remind myself. Those sticky notes might say, “Be Kind” or “No Eye Rolling.” What can you do this week to show kindness and grace?

7 Responses to Kindness and Grace, When It’s Hard

  1. Kerry L McLaren May 10, 2017 at 10:14 am #

    Hi Cindy,

    This thought leadership of ‘modeling grace’ and demonstrating ‘kindness’ in spite of our own feelings or challenges daily, has to be part of your value system. If you believe you can make a difference by doing one small act of kindness each day it becomes natural. Plus, I have learned that what deed or action you do to help someone, gives you a sense of satisfaction and accomplishment without having to be asked. This behavior is infectious! You now have planted the seed in someone else to pay it forward to help someone else by perhaps something so simple for you, but hugely impactful for someone else who never expected something from you. I guess you could call it, “unconditional” love for humanity.

    See how your mood lifts and becomes (dare I say gleeful?) the next time you’re feeling frustrated or uninspired after giving of yourself to be kind. It’s a great ‘endorphin’ booster! Be Well, Kerry

    • Cindy Dove, Life Coach May 10, 2017 at 11:12 am #

      I love the endorphin booster aspect of your comment. Kindness is, indeed, a booster.

  2. Steph May 10, 2017 at 11:03 am #

    Great blog! A very thoughtful one that causes us all to maybe question more deeply. I love that you referred to Jeffrey Van Dyk’s quote. Before I got to that part of your article, I was thinking about those of us who really dislike conflict, and we usually choose to avoid it or not engage in discussion that might cause it. We are sometimes viewed as cowardly in not standing up to the conflict, but I think that many of us who are that way might benefit from that “stepping away” (from the conflict). In stepping away, we can possibly reform our view and not react to the fight. So often, the fight seems hopeless or or like we are David fighting Goliath. So, I like the Van Dyk quote. We can still stand our ground and choose a different tool to work with the circumstances we are in.

    • Cindy Dove, Life Coach May 10, 2017 at 11:10 am #

      Yes, when we look at things from a different perspective, we have the ability to see other possibilities. It also is very empowering when we are able to set down the judgments we have about ourselves.

  3. Monica Malkowski May 11, 2017 at 10:03 am #

    Yes, in the last year I learned that some relatives, as well as the people I have been close to over the years are really not who I thought they were. They are not intellectual thinkers, but are really very superficial and don’t think about the future of our planet and the next generations to come. And for so many to think that we should turn back the clock of time to the mid-60’s? Even if we could, we probably would not want to give up decades of progress in regard to women’s rights, pollution and quality of life, expanded educational opportunities, etc. But you are so right. There is a place for our active participation in the community, where we can express our opinions and push back against ignorance. At the same time, there is no need to live with that tension in our loves all of the time. Yes, we can be kind and have grace when we attend those family functions like graduations, family picnics etc. At the same time we can look for new opportunities to educate and enlighten ourselves without having to crusade against ignorance and prejudice all of the time. We can change ourselves, but not others. With luck, we can meet a few new like-minded friends overtime, who allow us to just be ourselves.

    • Cindy Dove, Life Coach May 11, 2017 at 5:04 pm #

      Great insights – look for new opportunities to educate and enlighten ourselves and to just be ourselves. It is so empowering when we are who we are and don’t tone ourselves down. I love how you express the difference between trying to prove who we are rather than simply being who we are.

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  1. Personal Reflection and Inner Stories - Purposed Lives - June 2, 2017

    […] and then make up stories about how or who they are. It’s a recurring theme and points back to kindness and grace. Maybe the question should always be, how can I be kind? I’ll start today, especially any […]

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