Cool to Be Kind

Take a moment, wrap your arms around yourself and say, “I love you. You are enough just as you are.”

This post comes to us from the lovely Bethany Toews.
Once upon a time I was paid to disappear. For years actually, I was a background actor in commercials. A job I certainly never dreamed of having; nonetheless, there I was, having pretend conversations with no one in fake cafes, going up and down escalators in empty malls at midnight, being told to keep backing up until I was literally in a bush in a park for a shampoo commercial while the lead actress frolicked her locks in the sunlight. She was getting paid to shine, I was getting paid to hide. It wasn’t the worst job. I made good money, which meant I didn’t have to work full-time, which meant I had time to do the things I truly cared about. But there is only so much disappearing one can do until you start to wonder where you went.
We do this a lot, in work, in relationships, in life. We make ourselves small when we long to be ok the size we are. We all ache to be seen, to be acknowledged and appreciated. I believe we all have an internal fire burning to get out. A fire that scorches us when kept trapped inside, a fire that adds warmth and light to the world when let out. I believe this is something we all share, no matter how buried or forgotten, the dream of being loved for who we are, for what we have to offer—not who we could be or are trying to become—but who and where we are in this moment.
It hurts to feel like we are not enough, and yet the world around us tells us we lack. We are sold better bodies, better cars, better toothpaste, better smiles. We are constantly told we need more. But I am here to tell you that you are enough. There is not something outside of you, something you are missing that would make you adequate — you are already there. Now tell yourself that. I’m serious, tell yourself that right now. Take a moment, wrap your arms around yourself and say, “I love you. You are enough just as you are.” I don’t care if it feels silly or stupid, it most likely will. Do it anyway. It’s not silly or stupid, it’s a wise and a wonderful way to start each day. I do it, every morning.
Now that you have given yourself a hug, I’d like you to continue this journey of self-love. Draw attention to how you speak to yourself, hear the words you choose to speak in your own head. Are they loving? Are they gentle? I’m going to guess that if you’re anything like me, you might be shocked to realize how cruel and unforgiving of yourself you can be. The simple step of bringing awareness to the voice you choose to speak inside can be hugely transformative to how you feel, and in turn, how you treat others. Try to be patient. Don’t rush to judge or criticize your sweet and curious inner child. They are simply trying to let you know how they feel, what they need. Give them the attention they deserve, the attention you deserve. Imagine 9-year-old you, that you is still living inside, speaking to you, sharing their hopes and fears and dreams and insecurities—reminding you of you. You are old enough now to listen and to comfort them as you do. Close your eyes, bring to mind an image of that younger, more innocent you. See her badly permed hair, her giant splattered paint glasses, her crooked teeth too big for her head. See her sweet and inquisitive eyes, looking up at you, wondering. How would you like to speak to her? What do you want to tell her? What do you wish someone would have told her back then? Say it now.

As you fill yourself up with love and self-acceptance, you become a wellspring of kindness. You may find yourself smiling at strangers, holding open doors, having more patience to really listen to the words others long to speak. Full of appreciation for all that is within, you start to appreciate all that is without. Start to feel the joy sharing a compliment can bring. Tell someone you like their smile, you dig their pants, you enjoy the way their laughter fills the room like starlight. They will feel good hearing it, you will feel good sharing it. That’s two people feeling good for free. What a wonder! The world is full of 9-year-olds, no matter the external age. Treat them as such. In the words of George Sand: “Guard well within yourself that treasure, kindness. Know how to give without hesitation, how to lose without regret, how to acquire without meanness.”
We have become so withholding when giving is what feels good. We have become silent when speaking truth brings us more fully into our lives. Share the goodness that you hold inside. That is what the world is needing, that is what the world is aching for. Kindness, oh kindness, the magic potion of life. When did it become uncool to be kind? When did we stop hugging each other and start folding our arms? Open up, share some warmth. Times have been hard, we need to soften. The messages on the screens are full of fear and hatred, we need to be courageous in love. There is so much violence and pain. People need tenderness, be that tenderness. Start with yourself and become overflowing.

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