Mike at the Kindness Blog has sent out a challenge – to try to speak kindly for a whole year.
I’m thinking that this is something that I will take part in. I will try my hardest.
The thing is, speaking kindly 24/7 is gonna be hard. Real hard.
But then the thing with challenges is that they aren’t meant to be easy – otherwise they wouldn’t call it a challenge would they?
Truth is, I’m not sure I can do it for a whole year.
I guess the logic is that if you plan for a whole year, then it gets easier the more you practice and hopefully by the end of the 12 months you will have nailed it.
I was made to realise yesterday that although I try my hardest to be kind and to be a better person that there are times that I fall far short. Last night the Teen chastised me after I made comment on something I had read on Facebook. She actually said “Mum. I think you need to think about your attitude because I see absolutely nothing wrong with what was said”. The Garden Gnome agreed with her.
It really hit home and I began to wonder if I’m becoming a cranky, old woman?
So how am I going to go spending a whole year in listening and speaking without judgement or criticism? Can I learn to speak softly rather than harshly?
Will I be able to go even one day without an unkind word passing my lips?
I honestly don’t know.
Mike says in his post that the worst thing we can do is criticise ourselves and judge ourselves too harshly for failing. I believe that if we become too hard on ourselves, we will give up on our belief in our capacity to become a kinder person.
It is however important to recognise our failures.
When we fail, we should acknowledge where it was that we let ourselves down and then move on with the intent of doing better next time.
As we acknowledge our’ slip-ups’ it’s important to analyse why we said what we did. What were our emotions at the time we spoke unkindly?
Were we angry with the person or upset with the events surrounding the conversation? Did what we said make us feel better in some way? Why do we think we said what we did? How could we have said what we wanted to say in a way that was less harsh?
When we work out our reasons for saying things, it becomes easier to adjust our attitude and thought patterns so that next time, rather than giving in to our emotion we can step back and think before speaking in reply.
We also need to recognise that sometimes saying absolutely nothing is far kinder than opening our mouths and messing up big time.
Mike has begun next year’s challenge by issuing a ‘warm up’ challenge until the end of the year. Two weeks of trying to speak kindly (or not speaking at all in some cases 😉 ). I’m willing to give it a go.
Christmas falls right in the middle of those two weeks though and that is going to be a huge challenge for many.
Christmas is a time when families come together and as is the case with many families, our familiarity oftentimes breeds contempt.
I’m not talking about the jokes we have with each other because I know that when I get together with my kids and my brother we pay each other out mercilessly. But that is all in good fun and nobody gets offended because we know that we are just talking rubbish.
What I am talking about is the mean, snarky comments that sometimes creep into our conversation when we are with family. Family times are often stressful because of hidden agendas and old wounds that people keep opening with their words.
This Christmas season, I challenge you to try to be the voice of reason.
Doesn’t the proverb say that you catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar? Along with Mike I want to challenge us all to be loving. Be kind in our words. Be forgiving of the words of others. Walk away if we have to.
And if you really can’t stand Aunt Mary’s Christmas pudding, don’t tell her! 😉