As children, most of us learn the foundation for kindness. The Golden Rule: treat others the way you want to be treated. The Oxford Dictionaries define “kind” as having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature. Before waking up to my higher self, I really thought I was doing a good job in the kindness department. I am a nice and polite person. As I become more aware of my inner thoughts and feeling, I am seeing that I still have a lot of work to do.
One of the most disturbing things I have realized about myself, is that I have a constant stream of judgmental thoughts running through my mind. I know I'm not the only one. We are ingrained to make judgments about people, our surrounding, and ourselves. It is a survival mechanism that helps us to recognize and avoid unfavorable circumstances. The problem is, this mechanism can keep us from seeing things as they truly are.
When I first realized just how often I'm making judgments, I was disappointed in myself. I've come to understand something, though. Those thoughts do not need to effect how kind I am, unless I let them. Those thoughts do not define me as a good or bad person. In fact, they can be useful tools in understanding myself and the way my mind works. They can lead to a thought process that actually takes kindness from a polite action, to a true, loving compassion.
When I catch myself having judgmental thoughts, I first remind myself of the Fifth Reiki Principle. Just for today, I will be kind. I question myself. Are the thoughts I'm having kind? Why or why not? What might make me think this way? How can I shift my attitude?
For example, I noticed the way a man shushed his wife and the harsh look he had given her at church one morning. My first thought was, "wow, what a jerk, I feel sorry for her." Judgmental thinking. Was it kind? No. Neither my assumption that he was a jerk, or that she needed my pity, were kind. Why was I thinking that way? I was judging them based on my own experiences with my ex-husband and the way he looked at and spoke to me when he was drunk or being abusive. That was my experience and I was able to show myself kindness by forgiving myself for letting it cloud my judgment for a moment. Could I shift my attitude? I was able to bring my awareness back to the fact I knew nothing at all about the couple or their lives. I was still able to recognize that there was some trouble between them, but my feelings had shifted from condemnation and pity, to those of compassion for them both and hope that things will work out for the best for them.
Unkind thoughts or judgments will inevitably come to our minds sometimes. What matters isn't that our thoughts our always kind, but that with effort, we can always find our way to kindness. Next time you start to feel judgmental, try questioning yourself and guiding your way back to kinder thoughts. Most importantly, don’t forget to be kind and patient with yourself.