When Kindness isn't Kind
“Carry out a random act of kindness with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you.”
-Diana, Princess of Wales
Some people’s kindness comes with a high price tag. And in some cases accepting their kindness might even feel like you have entered into a covenant with the devil. Only this feels several degrees worse.
I’d imagine with the devil, you would know up front what was at stake and whom you were dealing with. But when the act of kindness comes from ones you trust, you don’t expect to pay for their kindness with your soul.
Take for instance, the friend who offered you a ride to the airport to catch an early flight. At first, you were overwhelmed with gratitude. Now your gratitude is wearing thin because since that day, your friend has reminded you of the “kindness” with countless requests for favors.
People in this category keep tabs on their kindness. I dubbed it the Ledger Kindness. They have a system of debit and credit for their good deeds. “I drove us to lunch last time, you mind driving?”
How about the PR Kindness? This is when the person is only interested in creating a certain image for him/herself and performs an act of kindness as to be seen in a positive light by the people he/she is working hard to impress. Your misfortune is part of their cocktail conversation. But because it is during a period of hardship, and out of necessity, you take them up on their kindness; however, along with gratitude is the deep feeling of regret. The high price you pay for accepting their help was to become the recipient of their derision or resentment.
Then similar to the Ledger Kindness is the Coma Kindness. It’s when the giver develops selective amnesia. During a period of hardship, the giver stepped in like a guardian angel, perhaps with a generous amount of money, insisting it was a gift they were in a position to give. Then just as you are about to get back on your feet, the giver shows up at your doorstep like an IRS letter demanding payment. “Hey, remember when you lost your job and I loaned you $500? I need it back. Now.”
It would appear, in this day and age, when people show you a kindness, they expect something in return. But is this still view as a kindness?
To this, I say no. Expecting anything back for your kindness is no longer a kindness. It’s a loan. The trouble with this type of loan is that each party has a different idea of what the terms and balance on the loan should be. Unfortunately, the ultimate price both pays is damaged relationships.
Like you, while I may have experienced all of the above types of “kindness,” I was also fortunate to have experienced true kindness. See if you recognize these random acts of kindness in your own life:
The stranger who graciously offered to change your flat or jumpstart your car.
The lady who unhesitatingly whips out her grocery store loyalty card so you can get the “buy one, get one free deal.”
The neighbor who knocks on your door when you forgot and left your keys dangling in the lock.
The server who chased you down five blocks to return your wallet.
For these people, helping others simply makes them feel good. We label them as do-gooders. But maybe the reasons for their kindness go far beyond that.
Perhaps they see themselves as caretakers of the universe; thus, performing acts of kindness was a duty to do their part. Kindness may also be part of their daily gratitude ritual. They then may use acts of kindness as repayment to a Devine Being for a life well lived.
My challenge to you this week: Let your light shine with greater intensity. Where there is opportunity, plant kindness.
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