“Be kind not only to strangers—but to those that mean the most to you too”
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Walking from my hotel to dinner last week I encountered an elderly couple waiting for a shuttle bus.
I heard the woman gasp and say to her (I assumed) husband, “THE TICKETS! They are in the room in my bag. Go get them, hurry up!”
Then she proceeded to give his arm a smack—and not a love tap, more of a “move your ass” smack.
He turned around without saying a word and began shuffling inside. He headed toward the elevator while she continued to yell at him to hurry up.
That situation upset me. Yes, I am an outsider viewing a conversation between two people without knowing all of the details—but I found it to be very sad.
In life we often put on happy faces for acquaintances, co-workers or even strangers. We give compliments and smiles freely and naturally.
However, for those close to us—those smiles and compliments sometimes fade.
When it comes to our loved ones, our empathy reserves are often lacking. Why is this? We shouldn’t treat our loved ones less kindly than we do strangers—but the reality is, that we often do—even as toddlers!
I’ve heard many times parents say their children behave better with grandma or grandpa. Or the babysitter says how wonderful they were the entire evening. But the moment you walk in the door they throw a tantrum. Why is that?
We feel more comfortable being ourselves with the people we love and trust—and being ourselves means showing all sides, which includes the ugly.
With our loved ones we don’t need to pretend. Our close friends and family are supposed to tolerate us, right? When we are with them is when we feel safe and release our pent-up frustrations of the day or “vent”— not always in a nice way.
This behavior can leave the recipient of the venting feeling mistreated by their partner, friend, parent, or even children.
Don’t forget to be kind to your
I often urge my readers to be kind—and it can appear I’m just speaking about strangers. Don’t forget kindness for those closest to us that we sometimes take for granted.
How to do it?
- Take a break: Have you ever wanted a break from your kids and then when you do get that break you miss them like crazy? Absence makes the heart grow fonder—possibly. Take time for yourself and disconnect which can re-set you and give you perspective on many things, including those relationships closest to you.
- Imagine your life without them. I’m not trying to be morbid, but think about that for a moment. If this person was no longer in your life, how does it make you feel? Remember that feeling when you have the urge to be snippy.
- Gratitude: When you make a list of things you are grateful for, try listing out the people close to you and list one thing about them you are grateful for in that moment.
- Self-Care: Taking care of your mental health is not only going to benefit you, but it will benefit your loved ones as well. Practicing self-care on a regular basis helps you become more balanced, understanding, and empathetic—which in turn will benefit your personal and intimate relationships. For you to have healthy relationships, it requires you to be mentally healthy.
Will those close to you frustrate you from time to time—yes. But you can express your frustrations kindly.
If you express kindness in your relationships, even when expressing your frustrations, you’ve paved the way for those close to you to listen and understand you. Kindness gets your needs met.
Just as we offer a smile and hold the door open for a stranger, we need to remember to nurture this same compassion in our closest relationships.
Be kind to someone you love today.
Remember, You Got This!
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