The Power of Kindness

The Power of Kindness
by Evie Shafner, LMFT

"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." 
the Dali Lama
I’ve been feeling very lucky lately-I showed the quote above to my husband, and he decided to make it his manifesto without telling me.

As kind and loving as our relationship has (mostly) been, I started feeling the difference right away - I guess you could say it upped the sense of emotional safety. It’s the small things - like being patient when I am moving furniture for the 10th time in 2 weeks - or agreeing to go out for the 3rd night in a row, when I know he would rather stay in - or that I spent a little too much at Home Goods - again!

It really stood out to me, and I commented on it; that’s when he told me what he was using the quote as his daily practice, and boy, was I grateful.

But what to do if you feel like you are in a lot of pain with your partner right now? Does it even feel within the realm of possibility to be kind to your partner - especially if at times they feel like they are not your friend - more like your enemy? And can we do something we don’t feel like doing, for the sake of the couplehood?

One of the things I love about Imago and it’s dialogical process is that it is based on the idea that we can be a conscious, empathic listener, even when we are triggered inside. We know from all the research on the brain and relationships that when we are triggered, the fight or flight part of our brain takes over, and we can be very reactive-by amping up or shutting down. But science has also shown that we can use our mind to change our brain - and that focusing on compassion and kindness enhances our ability to be that way with others.

So, the answer is yes - we can practice being kind, even when we are in pain, upset with our partner-we can use a soft tone in our voice, get the glare out of our eyes, never use harsh language-even when our partner is behaving badly. We do not have to meet our partner’s unconscious reactivity with the same; We do have a choice, always.

And-since we are all connected, and everything we do affects everything and everyone else - it is equally important that we are also kind to ourselves.  Piero Ferrucci, the author of the book “The Power Of Kindness” wrote ”There is no choice between being kind to others and being kind to ourselves. It is the same thing.”  So, a daily practice of cultivating good-heartedness towards ourselves as well as our partners is important.

I wish you a home filled with kindness and peace.
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