I’ve been thinking about this a few weeks ago. “This” being the introspection on how unkind I sometimes are in thoughts or words (tweets for instance) and sometimes even in actions. But mostly in thoughts, because thoughts are what triggers everything else: Emotions and actions and so forth. Not unkind in an obvious rude or derogative way. Unkind in the true sense of the word. Not kind. Not meeting every possible moment and person with an open mind. Without assumptions. Without judgement. But with kindness instead.
It was brought on by something eye-opening (for me at least) I read a few weeks ago in a book about self-esteem and self-image. That (some) people who lack self-esteem tend to become counter-active not only by turning preemptively defensive when they feel criticized (=attacked), but also start lashing out (=attacking) preemptively. To feel more in control? To make themselves feel better? Because when I think thoughts like “OMG, these people are so stupid!” of course it implies that I’m smarter than they are. That I’m the better person. And of course for a moment these thoughts makes me feel better.
But I’m not the better person. Far from it. Because I’m assuming. And judging. To make myself feel superior for a little while.
I had almost forgotten about these deliberations though until few days ago Terry Dresbach, the Outlander costume designer, started a wonderful discussion on Twitter about kindness and how we could and should all be so much kinder to each other. With this she had picked up a ball that Outlander actress Caitriona Balfe had gotten rolling by a similar tweet a few months ago. And I love that two female artists, whom I’ve come to admire greatly started this discussion. Because the world needs more kindness. We all need more kindness. Towards each other and towards ourselves.
Ever since Terry tweeted about it, I tried to pay closer attention to my own reaction to other people or situations and frankly…. I was a bit appalled how often I caught myself being judgy or bitchy or derogativly on impulse. And even worse how often I felt the impulse to share these thoughts. Either by making a mental note to keep this as a “funny” episode to tell of this vacation later. Or even worse to tweet about it instantly. Why? For a few laughs? For making myself feel better? Superior? And why do I need to put someone down (even just in my mind) to make myself feel superior? Why do I want to feel superior in the first place? I think for me it might come back to the self-esteem issue mentioned above. And that’s equally daunting and encouraging.
I try to focus on the encouraging part, because now that I’ve realized that’s what I’m doing and how my mind (sometimes) operates, I can do something about it. I can and will try to be kinder. Towards others. In thoughts and actions. And I bet, in the long run this will make me feel better than a shortlived “feeling superior”. Win-win, I’d say…