As November winds down and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season approaches, I think it’s extra important to talk about kindness. There’s something about the holiday season that seems to push people into action: donating to the food bank, serving meals at local shelters, helping buy gifts for families in need. During the holiday season there are often more opportunities than ever to show kindness to those around us through generosity of time, space, and finances.
When I think of kindness and the holiday season, the movie The Christmas Carol comes to mind (based on the classic novel of the same title by Charles Dickens). This is one of my family’s favourites (we’re particularly fond of The Muppets’Christmas Carol). For those who are unfamiliar with the story, Ebenezer Scrooge, a crotchety, wealthy man is visited by 3 ghosts. They show him how his selfish and unkind ways have destroyed his past relationships, impacted the lives of the needy, and will ultimately lead to an unfulfilled life and death. Thankfully Scrooge heeds the ghosts’ warning. His heart is changed and from that changed heart comes an outpouring of generosity and kindness to those around him.
So how does all of that apply to me? I wouldn’t say I’m a Scrooge. I care about those around me, I volunteer my time, I try my best to be kind to the people I meet and interact with every day.
The only one person I am regularly unkind towards is myself.
And I don’t think I’m the only person who finds it easy to show kindness to mostly everyone except for themselves. I’m not sure why it is so easy to let unkind thoughts attack what we look like, who we are, and what we do every single day.
Ebenezer Scrooge was not a cruel boy, and he was not a cruel young man. Years of striving and prioritizing being the best left him hardened and unkind in his older age. I wonder whether Scrooge also daily faced an unkind inner monologue? Telling him he wasn’t good enough, he would never be anything until he had more money, or a better home, or a more prestigious job…
Ultimately he missed out on a lot of joy, and we will to if we don’t learn to practice showing ourselves kindness.
The change may be slow, we may not even recognize our hearts hardening towards others as we continue to be unkind to ourselves; fixating on how we can improve our own lives, and trying to fix the things we tell ourselves are wrong with us.
The honest truth is that there is often nothing wrong with us.
We all have amazing things to contribute to this world, but if we continue kicking ourselves down we may never reach our full potentials.
I want to lay a foundation that allows me to show kindness to those around me not just during the holiday season but every day of the year.
So I’m starting with me.
I’m challenging myself to:
-Silence the unkind inner monologue when I don’t feel like I’ve met the expectations I’ve placed on myself
-Encourage myself daily, focusing not on what I look like, or what I achieve, but who I am at the core (a caring, thoughtful, worthy, passionate person…)
-Be gentle and supportive when I am unkind to myself, remembering that changing thoughts takes time, and being kind means not beating myself up for perceived failure
Let’s be a culture that is so kind to ourselves that we can’t help but also show kindness and generosity to everyone we come in contact with.
Let’s not let kindness begin and end with the holiday season, let’s let kindness be the catalyst that propels us into the New Year and sets the tone for the rest of our years.
Yours in kindness,