When my clients check in, their reports are full of how hard on themselves they are. I write back, often (but not always) kindly. And it isn’t my intention to be kind per se. It’s my intention to point out how well they’ve done, where they have. And to offer something, anything, which gets them to see things as they appear to me when I am looking in. Other clients chip in kindnesses too, as it appears to them and our reflections are not always the same except in intention. To help the client see their good stuff, their progress, their growth opportunity, whatever it is they are not seeing about themselves which we appreciate and admire.
It isn’t that I’m kind. I don’t think I am really. In fact, I am often in trouble in my private life for not being kind enough. I am not aware that I am kinder to my clients. I just point out all the good stuff they appear to be overlooking while their major focus is a big fat down on themselves.
And often they write back and say they’ve had a little cry. Why do we cry when people are nice to us?
I had a client once, way back in my accounting days, who used to bring strangers over to me at parties and say “Look! Judith cries when I say nice things to her!” and he would often prove it as if I were some party trick.
My clients are not party tricks. And, just like them, I have weeks which are up and down and full of frustrations. And I’m probably my own harshest critic though I do also know these days how to be kind to myself, learned the hard way over decades of emotional abuse of self. [I wanted to say self-abuse there, as it’s a more elegant turn of phrase but I didn’t want you to get the wrong idea!]
So, think on this… when people are kind to you, why does that make you cry? I bet you are kind to people and that it’s not your intention to reduce them to tears!
How are tears helpful? They are a release and a realisation that all is not lost nor even as bad as it seems when we examine it too microscopically. What’s a week, after all? We could have up to 5,000 in our lifetimes of them if we play our cards right and stop being quite so hard on ourselves. I certainly hope I’ve got at least 2,000 of them left in the vitality bank so a new Monday morning presents the opportunity to dust myself off after a bad week, stop being so hard on myself and to celebrate the good stuff.
That may appear to be a kindness to you and to me and I’m certainly not advocating a head-in-the-sand type of approach to anyone’s shortcomings, least of all my own, just that we give ourselves due credit for all we manage to achieve and juggle, especially at this time of year, even if it was not what we intended. Trust that you will feel inspired to do the good stuff, the right stuff. And that the feelings which arise from that will speed you on your way to tackling some of the trickier challenges. There’s evidence that works.
Be kind to yourself and I will continue to be kind to you too, though not for kindness’ sake and not to make you cry but because I believe you are better than you give yourself credit for. Perhaps that’s why we cry, in recognition of that fact, pure and simple. We are better than we know.