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The light of kindness

All of us give and receive kindness. (Photo: E. Lowinger)

All of us give and receive kindness. (Photo: E. Lowinger)

All of us at times are givers and receivers of kindness. But there are those among us with a particular talent for giving.

Sometimes when we’re in some sort of pain we can find ourselves gravitating to those giving souls scattered among us for help, comfort and kindness.

Giving souls are those people who jump to help others in pain, whether it be physical, emotional or spiritual.

Giving souls are those people who can so easily feel other people’s pain and put helping others ahead of their own needs.

Giving souls are those people who are there for you on the end of an email, text or other plea for help. They are ready at any moment to provide, food, company, moral support or any other sort of comfort. They are always there for other people. Always.

And then there are those of us on the other side of the spectrum…those of us who are in need of kindness, who feel pain, who crave support.

Some of us feel more pain than others. Some of us feel more in need of kindness. Some of us seem to need kindness often, maybe every week, maybe everyday.

For those among us on the receiving side of kindness it can feel wonderful to be looked after, to be comforted, to be helped. It can feel good to have the pain alleviated. Perhaps it can feel a little addictive too.

Receiving kindness can make the world seem safer, humanity more generous, and banishes darkness with hope and light.

Yet this is a symbiotic relationship that might not be healthy for anybody. This can be a relationship that at times can cause more harm than good.

People who are givers by nature, may feel pain by withholding their kindness. It can be really hard not to jump in and rescue someone who needs it. Really hard. Maybe even guilt inducing. But at times, it is the withholding of giving that IS the kindness.

At times withholding might be necessary to protect yourself. Even the most generous person has their own physical, emotional, spiritual and social needs. Even the most generous person can collapse from exhaustion if they are so busy helping they forget to eat, rest, or sleep. The most generous person can become overwhelmed with helping and forget to live their own life properly, or do their job properly.

Too much giving can also lead people receiving kindness to forget how to help themselves. It may reinforce the neediness of those receiving kindness, and circle around to become an unkindness in and of itself. This is how kindness and pain together can form a destructive alliance.

So, when you see a person in pain, make sure your help won’t make things worse. Consider whether the best way to be kind to another is to keep kindness to yourself. Make sure you’re not giving just because you need to give.

And that’s what the people on the receiving end need to remember. Remember the person loving you and supporting you is a real person who has their own needs too. Don’t get so enmeshed in your own pain that you can’t see the person in front of you.

Maybe the effort spent in helping you means a problem of their own lies fallow and unaddressed. Maybe in letting someone help you too much, you are inadvertently hurting the person helping you.

Whilst receiving is giving a gift to the giver in that it allows someone to give to you, it is sometimes healthier not to take and let the giver in your life rest.

So when you meet someone with a talent for giving, try to give back to them too. Give them space to live their own life. Give them permission to say no. But mostly give them the respect all humanity deserves.

Help from someone else is not a right, it’s a blessing. And something to be truly grateful for.

The world needs all types of people. Both giving and receiving have a valuable role to play. After all there could be no giving without receiving. And vice versa too.

But if we temper our giving and receiving with the respect that ourselves and others deserve, then we’ll be sure to allow the light of kindness to really shine.

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