Kind-ness. Noun? (A verb to be practised daily.)

Be Kind To Yourself Quote.
Kindness in the dictionary is defined as a noun, I tend to disagree. I first remember becoming aware of the importance of kindness when I was a small child. I had a difficult childhood due to severe bullying in the home by an older family member. Being an old soul in a young body, I sentimentally found solace in old movies where it all seemed so simple and joyful. Black and whites were a favourite and Frank Capra’s, ‘It’s a Wonderful Life,’ caught my special attention. Watching Jimmy Stewart’s character experience his world as if he had not been born, helped him to realise the impact his kindnesses had had on the people around him and how their world was so different and negative without him.

I then began to practise kindness on those around me and was delighted by the massive impact small gestures had. I have used the word ‘practise’ here purposefully. I went about my day (and still do) actively seeking out opportunities to be kind. These are not random acts to me. They are to the strangers who received them, but to me they are orchestrated and predetermined before I have even got out of my bed that morning. I am switched on. I have woken up. I have become acutely aware of what was going on around me.

From a small word of support to the Mum having a challenging time with a cherub; to helping someone with their groceries; to paying the balance at the checkout when the person did not have enough; to dropping in a card of appreciation to my children’s swimming co-ordinator who worked so hard and yet was always overlooked. The acts are different, but the result is just the same. Sheer joy, love and gratitude are the result and an unseen connection between me and that person, just for a fleeting moment where we are truly connected, as of course, we all are.

In return, I have experienced great kindnesses from others and am blessed to have opened my heart to the love of many new people in to my life constantly. I want to also mention here that give only if you want to. Never give because you feel that you should, or because you want something in return. It doesn’t work like that. Give kindness because you can, it feels good and because you want to give with all of your heart to enrich the life experience of another. Then smile, and move on to the next. It’s that simple.

With more experience, my intuition strengthened and my ability to read situations improved. I have used the practise of kindness daily and with great effect. It can give hope, strengthen love and can diffuse situations of tension where anger has melted away to reveal vulnerability. I began to read philosophy, psychology, angel therapy and books on affirmative living. I studied Counselling, Hypnotherapy and Life Coaching and those skills enriched my life experience further and helped me to be more effective as a human! I also studied the ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul’ series by Jack Canfield et al which highlighted the importance of kindness even further. One story in particular remains with me where a student helped a fellow classmate one day carry his books home. They became friends and years later, he found out that this friend that he had helped was, in fact, on his way home to his planned suicide. This one, relatively small, act of kindness had literally saved his life. I found this to be profoundly inspiring.

It is often the people who display the worst example of bad behaviour and rudeness that we experience who need our kindness the most. I learned this lesson working my way through University in retail, bakeries and kitchens where I was exposed to many different, and often rude and intolerant members of society. I quickly learned that kindness and understanding was by far the best way to deal with this for a positive outcome.

When I qualified as a Primary Teacher I felt ready to take on the world. At age 21, I landed my first teaching position and my very own class. The experienced teacher who had my class the year previously sought me out and told me not to expect too much. Not a great start. Then after four weeks with this class I felt that I had chosen the wrong profession! The class was large and extremely challenging. I was very negative and focussed on the behavioural problems and trying to get the class in order. Once I sat back and analysed the situation and the fact that I was the adult in this scenario, I decided to change my approach.

I began to administer kindness to these kids, who often came from complicated backgrounds. I was kind with my teaching, my listening, my words, my affection, my attention and my discipline techniques and the result was nothing short of miraculous! The children took the lead from me and were kind, patient and supportive to each other. They believed the high expectations that I had for them and they delivered time after time. The teacher whom I inherited the class from actually came to me later in the year to say how lucky I was to have such a wonderful class! And I was lucky, I loved the kids in my class and I was blessed to have them.

The practise of kindness with children, and the amazing results, got me thinking about how I could help more children to be kind to one another and how this then improved their experience and helped their confidence in life and in their school work. My work with kids beyond my classroom always worked beautifully, but there was a constant obstacle that had to be overcome before this miracle was able to truly take place. This was kindness to self.

How many of us are so able to give unconditionally to others, our children; partners; colleagues; friends; family and yet are unable to do the same for ourselves? Interestingly, I was (and still am) acutely aware of the words I choose when talking to others, especially children. For example: Replacing a phrase such as, ‘You really were not very kind today,’ to, ‘I know that you are capable of great kindness, what happened today?’ This is a very different way of dealing with the same situation. It gives the child a very different view of themselves and helps them to learn from and move on from a negative situation and helps to create something positive from it. However, observing the way that the children often viewed themselves got me thinking. How was I speaking about myself? It became very apparent to me that I had a very negative way of speaking of myself to others and the way I spoke to myself in my own head. The irony of this is, the detrimental thoughts in my head then became the script by which I assumed others were thinking about me. This would make me reclusive, nervous and instantly defensive. This is isolating in the extreme. Kids are clever, they can see if you are living the old cliché, ‘Do as I say and not as I do.’ Be mindful of this, as I learned to be. When you wake up and take control over your thoughts and re-programme them towards self-kindness, your ability to open your heart and show love to others increases because when we love ourselves we are able to more readily love others.

Out of interest, write down the thoughts that you have about yourself. Read them and then think about how that is affecting your life experience. How would you feel if someone was saying these things to your child? A friend? A loved one? If the messages that you are giving yourself are not kind, then it is time to wake up and be kind and gentle with yourself. The more we administer kindness to ourselves, the more we can pass this on to others. This is why I have started to write self-help/positive-thinking books for children. I wish I had learned these skills when I was a child, I think it would have saved me a lot of heartache. These are skills that I teach my children daily and I believe that they are as important, if not more so, than numeracy and literacy skills.

People are often surprised when they ask me as a mother who is a qualified teacher what my hopes are for my children. My reply is that I hope that they believe in themselves, they are kind to themselves and to others, and that they are good citizens and that they are happy. If these values are part of their psyche naturally from a young age, then it is my belief that everything else (including successful learning) will fall in to place. Kindness in real life is, in my opinion, a verb. It needs to be practised daily to oneself, and to those around you. That is how we establish and experience and truly Wonderful Life.

With love. Cathy.


Cathy Domoney is the author of ‘Madeleine, Maddy and Midge
Positive Thinking for Children.


One Comment

  1. Cathy, this was wonderful. I live my life in the same way.

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