The Art of Being KIND
Being kind is essentially an art and takes practice. It takes rethinking the way that we think at any given moment and work at being KIND. Now that I’m older and have grown more into “me”, I want to strive to be even more kind. I am at times in better control of my actions and reactions and am more self-aware. Learning how to be more in control in any given situation allows us to express ourselves more appropriately. Not being in control is when all hell breaks loose and often, we reflect later and feel bad or regret the way we acted. How can we minimize overreacting or losing control? Let’s take a closer look.
Kindness: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Selfless, compassionate, and merciful.
To be more kind, we need to learn how to be less unkind. Simple as it is to say, it is much more difficult to practice. Especially when we are in the heat of the moment. That’s where the rethinking in the way we think needs to come to the forefront of our mind. While we are in the situation, we need to learn how to de-escalate our internal natural reactions.
“Being a Karen” What Does it Mean?
Origin and Meaning of the name Karen:
- a girl’s name of Danish origin meaning “pure”.
- Slang meaning found in Wikipedia: “Karen is a pejorative term for a white woman perceived as entitled or demanding beyond the scope of what is normal.”
I feel bad for all the Karen’s out there that have had their name used in meme’s that show someone over reacting in a ridiculous manner. Typically it’s a characterization of a white entitled woman.
Acting like an out of control, over-the-top person is not limited to a certain race, ethnic background, or age. I know I’ve reacted to situations in my past where I was over-the-top and didn’t act in the way that I am proud of. I think if we want to be honest, we all have had our moments.
I know many wonderful individuals with that name, and they do not have the qualities tied to that reference. My heart goes out to all the beautiful Karen’s in the world who represent what the birth name “Karen” really means.
Taking Back What I Said
It is easy to recall times in my life where I said something that I wish I could take back. It’s usually the times where I’m taken off guard or provoked, and after the situation I wish I kept my mouth shut and controlled myself better. I will also take in account my mood and if I was irritable, stressed, or tired. When something like this happens, I take time to think about what I said and how I said it. How was it received and how did it affect the person? Do I need to apologize?
This reflection helps me to recognize what my triggers might have been so I can work towards doing better the next time. If we don’t reflect on the way we reacted or take ownership of our own actions, how can we grow or do better the next time?
One of my favorite bible verses is one that has stuck with me and helps me remember how just our words alone can cause harm to others. We need to be mindful of what we say and how we say it. Sometimes the hurtful things we say will leave a lifelong impression or scar. The sad part is, we may not have even meant what we said if it was said in anger.
The tongue can be used the same way as a spark that starts a forest fire.James 3:5.
Being out of control in our actions and reactions is not the place any of us want to be. It is easy to deflect and blame other people for a situation, but the truth is, the way we act is on us. Managing ourselves manages escalation. We are not responsible for how someone else behaves but we are responsible for our own behavior. Our part in a conversation or confrontation is one hundred percent within our control.
Being angry or upset is a normal part of human emotion. But if we can learn how to control our impulses better and not lash out in an uncontrollable way, we will feel proud in the fact that we were able to remain in control and we handled the situation properly.
The number one thing that triggers me to lash out is stress. That stress will in turn cause me to be tired, frustrated and irritable. None of these things contribute to keeping a cool head or remaining in control when faced with life’s challenges. It is an overwhelming feeling when we are stressed, and it plays havoc on our mind, body, and soul.
In my investigation on the subject of what triggers us to lose control, I found some great insight from MentalHelp.net and Mind.org. As I read each of these points, I found myself nodding in agreement. I can relate to these triggers, and I think they will resonate with you as well. It is hard to keep your composure when feeling…
- threatened or attacked.
- frustrated or powerless.
- invalidated or treated unfairly.
- like people are not respecting our feelings or possessions.
- other people doing or not doing what you expect them to do.
- overwhelmed by situational events that get in your way, such as traffic jams, computer problems, ringing telephones, etc.
- people are taking advantage of you.
- angry and disappointed in yourself.
Although it’s helpful to know what triggers us, it is equally important to know how we can calm ourselves down when we begin to feel we are getting angry. The list below are things we can do to help us calm down and stay in better control of our emotions. I found these useful tips from the Mayo Clinic.
- Think before you speak: In the heat of the moment, it’s easy to say something you’ll later regret. Take a few moments to collect your thoughts before saying anything. Also allow others involved in the situation to do the same.
- Once you’re calm, express your concerns: As soon as you’re thinking clearly, express your frustration in an assertive but non confrontational way. State your concerns and needs clearly and directly, without hurting others or trying to control them.
- Get some exercise: Physical activity can help reduce stress that can cause you to become angry. If you feel your anger escalating, go for a brisk walk, or run. Or spend some time doing other enjoyable physical activities.
- Take a timeout: Timeouts aren’t just for kids. Give yourself short breaks during times of the day that tend to be stressful. A few moments of quiet time might help you feel better prepared to handle what’s ahead without getting irritated or angry.
- Identify possible solutions: Instead of focusing on what made you mad, work on resolving the issue at hand. Does your child’s messy room make you upset? Close the door. Is your partner late for dinner every night? Schedule meals later in the evening. Or agree to eat on your own a few times a week. Also, understand that some things are simply out of your control. Try to be realistic about what you can and cannot change. Remind yourself that anger won’t fix anything and might only make it worse.
- Stick with ‘I’ statements: Criticizing or placing blame might only increase tension. Instead, use “I” statements to describe the problem. Be respectful and specific. For example, say, “I’m upset that you left the table without offering to help with the dishes” instead of “You never do any housework.”
- Don’t hold a grudge: Forgiveness is a powerful tool. If you allow anger and other negative feelings to crowd out positive feelings, you might find yourself swallowed up by your own bitterness or sense of injustice. Forgiving someone who angered you might help you both learn from the situation and strengthen your relationship.
- Use humor to release tension: Lightening up can help diffuse tension. Use humor to help you face what’s making you angry and, possibly, any unrealistic expectations you have for how things should go. Avoid sarcasm, though — it can hurt feelings and make things worse.
- Practice relaxation skills: When your temper flares, put relaxation skills to work. Practice deep-breathing exercises, imagine a relaxing scene, or repeat a calming word or phrase, such as “Take it easy.” You might also listen to music, write in a journal, or do a few yoga poses — whatever it takes to encourage relaxation.
- Know when to seek help: Learning to control anger can be a challenge at times. Seek help for anger issues if your anger seems out of control, causes you to do things you regret or hurts those around you.
Seeing More Clearly
Intentionally changing the way that I see things and how I react has helped me learn “a new way of thinking.” Because of self-reflection, compassion, and empathy for others, we can manage ourselves better when we are in situations that are tough. It’s basically recognizing and mitigating the consequences before we act. Taking a different perspective might encourage us to be more KIND.
The following are situations we have all experienced at one time or another. If we can react better, we won’t have to look back and think, “I wish I didn’t…”
How many times have you gone to dinner and gotten bad service? Because I have been a server, I know what it is like on the other side. I remember many times where we got slammed with a bunch of customers at one time and had to run to several tables at once to try to get everyone taken care of quickly. Sometimes someone may have called out sick and we were short staffed. Other times an event in the area ended, and many people rushed to the nearest restaurants to eat – All at once!
I remember when a father came in with his son to have lunch. His son asked for a refill on his soda. When I brought the soda, the son said “thank you” to me. The father looked at his son and said, “You don’t have to thank her. That’s her job.” Seriously, this really happened. My heart fell to the floor thinking that a parent would instruct a child not to be gracious or thankful. Although this experience was over 20 years ago, I will never forget it. That is how powerful our words can be and how we can unknowingly affect another person.
Another time I had my entire section in the restaurant taken over by a group that came by bus. I served over 30 people. They left me a five-dollar tip. I wanted to run outside and fling the money at them, but I didn’t. While all the other servers had multiple parties and got tips from each of those tables, I made a whopping $5 from this one large group. It made me sick.
Lesson: Feeling annoyed and angry for the apparent lack of service or length of time it is taking to get your meal may require you to read the room. Understand that the server may be overwhelmed, and your patience and kindness will mean the world to him or her. Teach your kids to be kind and respectful and lead by example. Tip them well as they make minimum wage and rely on their tips to survive.
Cranky Customer Service
When I was younger, I remember calling for customer service support, and I ended up with a short, non-helpful agent with attitude. If I got someone with attitude, I gave them attitude right back. I would speak in a condescending way because I was frustrated at their lack of care. I would ask for their Supervisor, and thought that I would get better help by being the “squeaky wheel that gets the grease.” Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t. Little did I know that most of the time they just passed the call to another agent and not to a Supervisor because they are used to getting calls like this.
Lesson: Customer Service is a tough job. Dealing with someone who is compassionate and patient goes a long way. If I take a moment to choose my words carefully and kill them with kindness, I have a better chance to soften them up. I’ve found that nearly every time they will go the extra mile to try to help me. This old saying has truth to it; “You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.”
A KIND Reminder
Many times when I’ve been out and about in public places, I will see a bumper sticker or someone wearing a tee shirt that says “be kind.” This always brings a smile to my face. It’s a gentle reminder to humanity to make an effort. There are many programs, projects, organizations and initiatives out there that are simply promoting kindness as an intentional skill that people need to think about and practice. This skill should be learned from a young age so it can be mastered as adults in society. Many schools have made it their goal to incorporate anti-bullying techniques and initiatives in order to create a more positive and safer learning environment. It begins with kindness. What we need is more respectful, responsible, empathetic people in this world and I truly believe that kindness is the foundation. It is contagious.
Learning to be more KIND is something our world needs. It encompasses being supportive, encouraging, helpful, thankful, respectful, considerate, and honest. These are all qualities that help foster positive healthy relationships. It is easy to be KIND when we are in good spirits. It is much harder to be KIND when we are having a tough day, or we feel that someone is being disrespectful or unkind to us. Just because others are treating us unkindly does not mean we have to give it right back to them. Take a breath. Take a moment and think about what happens next. The goal is to manage our emotions when we are in the moment, and not have regret. I know when I behave better, I feel better about the person I am.
Be the best version of yourself! Be unique! Be YOU!
Anger Management: 10 tips to tame your temper
The Be Kind People Project works to create kinder kids and safer schools
Videos on Stress Relievers
1-Minute Exercise: Shoulder and Neck Rotations
1-Minute Exercise: Wellness – Face Pressure Points