It’s no secret that there are a lot of places in the world right now that aren’t so kind. When I went to hear Cleo Wade speak the other week, she said one of the most common questions she’s getting from her audiences is, “How do they take care of themselves, especially right now?” Right now is tough. It’s divided, it’s got a lot to fix; and in many instances it’s decidedly unkind.
From battles in the comments section of social media posts to workplace discrimination in all of it’s ugly forms, there’s a distinct unkind vibe in so many places…and I know that can feel overwhelming. When I’m overwhelmed it’s hard for me to take an action. I often get paralyzed and fall into the energy around me. Unkind comment on my social media post? My initial temptation is to respond with the same degree of unkindness. Hear someone speak in a disparaging way? I have to consciously not respond in the same tone.
There’s a great quote. I have no idea who said it but it’s always felt true. “Your first reaction is your conditioning, and your second is who you truly are.” (or something like that!) I love that quote because it creates space for us to show up as more than just our first reactions, more than just what we’ve learned over time, and more than just what comes out when we’re in a high-stress situation.
My second reaction is to take action and use kindness as a disruptor. I’m not talking about the sugary-sweet, “kill them with kindness” (AKA passive-aggressive) way. I’m talking about genuine kindness, the type that comes from your core and is based on your values, the kind that helps you feel good about the reflection you see in the mirror.
And I’m not going to tell you that it’s easy.
When I get negative comments or unkind feedback I feel that first reaction boil up in me. I want to lash out and respond to that person in exactly the way they’re showing up…but that doesn’t change anything. Responding that way preserves the status quo. It perpetuates the things that feel so wrong right now. It’s adding to the problem instead of being part of the solution.
Now, let me be clear. Kindness as a disruptor doesn’t mean not responding. It doesn’t mean staying quiet when you witness discrimination. It’s the exact opposite. It means giving yourself the space to let the first unkind reaction get out of your system so you can access the strong, kind voice that disrupts the wrong-doing. That’s how you make change and disrupt with kindness.