Being kind to yourself and those around you might feel challenging. This difficulty may stem from personality traits, fears about what others think of you, low self-esteem, or challenging circumstances. If you want to be kinder, you might try making eye contact, smiling, using your conversation partner's name, and being an active listener during interactions.
Other methods of embracing kindness include focusing on self-care, journaling regularly, reading self-help books, partaking in random acts of kindness, offering sincere apologies, and giving whenever possible. Taking care of your mental health with a licensed professional may also be valuable.
Why Is It Hard To Be Kind?
Expressing kindness might not come naturally to everyone. If you relate, the following causes could affect your situation.
Each person has a unique personality with positive and negative characteristics. You may have certain character qualities that others admire in you, like courage, tenacity, leadership, loyalty, and contentment. Try to credit yourself for the qualities you possess instead of those you might struggle with. You may find that some people think you're unkind, while others find you gentle, kind, and empathetic. Finding people you're compatible with may reduce the chances of feeling unkind if it is a matter of personality.
Worries About What Others Think
If you worry about what others think, you might treat them unkindly out of insecurity or fear of what they might say or do. Feeling comfortable in your skin and trusting that others have your best intentions may reduce this feeling. In addition, kindness can be contagious, so being kind to people may cause them to be kind back. One study found that cooperative behavior can cascade to three degrees of separation from the initial source.
Low Self-Confidence And Self-Esteem
Healthy self-esteem and self-confidence may make you more prone to being kind to others. When your self-confidence and self-esteem are low, you might act defensively out of a desire to safeguard yourself from criticism.
In some cases, you may find it challenging to be kind because you are overwhelmed or in a bad mood due to the circumstances in your life. Certain mental health challenges can also make it difficult to be kind. However, you may find kindness is possible again with support and time.
How To Be Kind To The People Around You
Learning to be kind is a skill you may practice and improve on over time. There may be specific strategies to use that can help you make progress. Below are some options to get started.
Make Eye Contact And Smile
You might begin to embrace kindness by making eye contact with and smiling at everyone you encounter. Body language can go a long way in helping you seem approachable and friendly. When you smile or make eye contact, offer a genuine compliment. You can compliment people at work, in the street, or with friends and family.
Use The Other Person's Name
One way to illustrate that you respect and view the other person as important is by including their name in your greeting or interspersed throughout your conversation. With those you do not know well or have just met, it can be a sign of meaningful respect that you have tried to remember their name.
Listen To Hear Instead Of To Respond
It can be kind to be an active listener and ask questions of your conversation partner. Although you may enjoy speaking about yourself more than listening to others, speaking too often about yourself can appear self-centered, uncaring, and insensitive. You might also miss interesting details about the other person. Becoming a better listener can show kindness and take less energy than controlling a conversation.
Effective listening can include eye contact, smiling, nodding, and other non-verbal signals indicating that you are paying attention. Effective listening may require placing your thoughts and concerns on a temporary hold until you've gained a complete and accurate understanding of what the other person is attempting to convey.
After you have listened intently, you may find it appropriate to offer a summary of what you have heard your conversation partner says. An effective summary can involve restating what you have heard in your own words. While stating the other person's words back to them can verify that you have been listening, it doesn't necessarily provide evidence that you understand their comments. Ask clarifying questions and relate to them to keep the conversation going. When it's your turn to speak, you can share more information about your insights.
Methods Of Embracing Kindness In Everyday Life
Below are a few ways to embrace kindness in your everyday life, whether toward yourself or others.
Be Kind To Yourself
Self-care often prioritizes kindness toward the self, which can contribute to your overall happiness. A few ways to practice self-care include mindfulness, yoga, exercise, healthy eating, and sleep hygiene. You can also practice your hobbies and schedule in your leisure time to keep your stress levels low.
If you find it challenging to be nice to others because you are holding grudges, feeling overwhelmed, or experiencing other difficult emotions, journaling may help you release these feelings. You can use it to explore your feelings and return to them later when you want to reflect. In addition, studies show that journaling can improve mental health.
Read Self-Help Books
Self-help books may guide you toward being kinder to yourself and others. Some books offer worksheets and activities you can try in your daily life. If a mental health condition or chronic stress impacts your ability to offer kindness, try an anxiety or depression workbook.
Partake In Random Acts Of Kindness
- Paying for someone else's order at the drive-thru
- Giving kind notes to strangers
- Buying flowers for someone on the street
- Buying food for someone living on the street who has asked for food
- Donating your clothes and unwanted belongings
- Giving someone you love a ride when they need it
- Giving someone a gift on a regular day
Offer Sincere Apologies
In some cases, you might find that you're unkind because you're defensive and feeling guilty about something you did wrong. However, not apologizing when wrong can damage relationships and lead to guilt and rumination. Taking responsibility for your actions can let people know you care about their feelings and want to foster healthy relationships. To apologize sincerely, follow these steps:
- Avoid asking for a favor during your apology.
- Apologize once instead of multiple times.
- Apologize because you know you made a mistake, not because you want others to drop their accusations.
- Don't apologize if you didn't make a mistake.
- Don't offer grand gestures of love or kindness during your apology, as it may be a form of "love bombing."
- Be understanding if the person doesn't accept your apology.
- Ask how you can repair your relationship, if necessary.
- Give the other person or people space to consider your words.
- Don't accuse or blame others, even if they also made mistakes.
- Don't ask for their apology in return.
Give And Share Whenever Possible
Offering others thoughtful gifts or tokens of appreciation may show them how much you love them. You don't necessarily need to buy an expensive gift. Giving a handwritten thank you note, holding the door open for the person behind you, helping a friend move, and saying "good morning" when you walk into the office are all kind gestures you can try.
Take Care Of Your Mental And Emotional Health
Self-care, journaling, and self-help books can all be excellent tools to promote mental health. However, the help of a licensed mental health professional may be more beneficial if you're living with a chronic challenge like stress, anxiety, depression, or guilt. A therapist may help you uncover the reasons why you find kindness challenging.
Traditional face-to-face therapy may not always be a convenient or accessible option, but online therapy through a platform like BetterHelp may remove barriers to support. With online therapy, connecting with a licensed therapist from your home or anywhere you have a stable internet connection can be possible. In addition, you can find cost-effective options if you don't have therapy insurance. As one study explains, online therapy can be as effective as in-office therapy in treating many mental health conditions and symptoms.
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