Conversations at the Crossroads.

The Practice of Wise and Kind

“keeping up appearances”

“saving face”

“being the bigger person”

“rising to the occasion”

These are familiar phrases to most of us. And the feelings that they summon up are familiar as well:

pressure

expectation

obligation

resistance

We’ve got a whole language around this notion of pushing ourselves into a state of being or doing that isn’t what we feel internally inclined to be or do. We need the language for it, because we do it all the time, and because we believe these phrases justify our reluctant actions to ourselves and to others:

You do it because you are expected to. Anything less makes you smaller person.

This pushing against our nature, pushing again our inclination, is occasionally worth the trouble, but generally it’s more trouble than it’s worth. We’ve all got stories of actions we took to “keep up appearances” that were more painful than productive. Painful—because our disinclination comes from a genuine desire to self-protect, and yet we push through it anyway.

I would like to propose an alternative to pushing.

[I credit my sister with this approach, which she shared with me years ago at a time when I was a relentless—and relentlessly unhappy—pusher.]

The alternative approach is to pause, breathe, and consider:

How can I, in this moment, be wise and kind to myself?

wise = having or showing experience, knowledge, and good judgment.
kind = having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature.

When we push and respond to perceived expectations, we tend to ignore or override our own good judgment and the knowledge we have gained from prior experiences about what’s best for us.

When we push, we forget to be generous and considerate of our own feelings and sensitivities. We decide, somewhat irrationally, that what others think and feel is more important.

When we push, we bump and bruise ourselves further. When we practice a wise and kind approach, we trust our instincts and make room for self-care.

In what aspects of your life do you currently feel yourself pushing?

What would change if you determined you would instead “practice wise and kind”?

It’s something to think about this week.

With support and encouragement for your journey,

Marnie
Founder, The Crossroads Coach

Published August 27, 2013