I have watched people being emotionally abused try to justify their inaction. When asked why they allow it, they will say something like, “I’m just too kind.”
Wrong. They are not being too kind; they are being cowardly. They lack the courage to handle confrontation. They shrivel up inside at the thought of conflict and run away from any sort of argument. These are the people who will roll over and play dead and let you rob them of their possessions and their dignity.
There are people who think that if you have an argument it means the relationship is over. The next step is going to an attorney and filing for a divorce; they don’t stop to think that an argument can clear the air and help you to see each other’s point of view. It doesn’t occur to them that after the unpleasantness passes, your relationship can be so much better.
If I had to differentiate between kindness and cowardice it would be that with cowardice you don’t want to let someone abuse you or take your possessions but you allow it to happen without saying anything.
Kindness, on the other hand, has you offering whatever you have to others without thinking of the cost or the hardship. It’s giving with an open hand and an open heart. It’s giving of yourself because that’s your nature and you feel good about whatever it is you are giving.
When clients are so self-absorbed that they can’t see beyond themselves, I have them volunteer in soup kitchens on holidays or work with the homeless. I’ve been known to tell them to get in touch with Big Brother Big Sister and spend time with a child who is having a difficult time. I also have them do volunteer work in hospitals and old age homes. And little by little they open their hearts to connect with humanity.
People who have a generosity of spirit are unique. They are the ones who reach out to those in need without being asked to do so. They have an innate kindness that allows them to give unstintingly but they also have boundaries that keep you from taking advantage of them.
It feels so much nicer to accept help from someone who gives it to you out of kindness than one who allows you to take it out of cowardice.