If you’re a regular reader, you’ve likely been following along to my current post series based upon a free, My Little Pony-themed personal development course, “Coaching is Magic”, featured on Udemy. In module 3, the class covers Flutter Shy. Flutter Shy embodies vulnerability, kindness and sensitivity. When I first watched this module, I struggled with what to write about. My inner child operates regularly from a sensitivity-inspired place. I am naturally inclined to give to others and wear vulnerability almost like a badge of honor. In taking on the personal development exercises, I didn’t want to just go through the motions, answering like I had before via therapy or through my own quiet hours of reflection. I wanted to find the challenge. After all, personal development is about finding your own weak spots and putting in the effort towards strengthening them.
So, if I was so naturally inclined to give kindness to others daily, where was the challenge?
My answer was surprisingly simple: 50 Acts of Kindness…towards myself.
I have always been my worst critic and I judge myself much more harshly than I do others. In one sense, it can be argued that I and many others do this out of a sense of self-betterment, pushing ourselves to the next level. While that sentiment does hold some truth, I have always struggled with its implied underbelly, including thoughts of not being good enough or only being as good as the last task completed. With my value as performance-based, it is almost impossible to take into account the value of who I am in the face of what I do.
It is true, often, that many great people produce great products or manage effectively. They have mastered their talents in a rhythm that works in their field that accurately reflects their own values when everything goes well. But it is a trap to believe that every thing produced and every production process goes well all of the time. I recently watched an interview where Elon Musk spoke on several topics, including the likelihood of failure compared to success.
He also notes that in physics, as in other branches of science, a hypothesis is considered false and a person works to prove it to be true. Yet, this seems to work in opposition to the default nature pf human thinking. Many times, people will have a feeling or belief that they feel so strongly and therefore conclude to be true, without researching it or considering an alternative. The hypothesis, or hunch, is considered to be true based off of feeling, and intensity of feeling, instead of fact. Also to consider: How often does our default psychological process teach us that our thoughts, opinions and hypotheses are directly reflective of our personal values – and as a result, when they are rejected by others or science or society, that a part of us is rejected as well? I have seen many unseasoned debaters enter into a discussion where their emotional attachment to a stance on an issue ruined their argument. This was one of the most crucial realizations I had in my early twenties: Our thoughts, our beliefs and our hypotheses are in the unique position of constant flux, and as such they should be separate from our identities in order to recognize inefficiency, ignorance, or outdated elements so that we can grow to improve.
So what does all of this have to do with acts of kindness?
When engaging in an exercise such as 50 Acts of Kindness towards others, I actively get to see the power in my vulnerability and the strength in my kindness. The exercise itself is a fantastic display to show yourself how much you can make a difference. Usually, when I think about accountability, the context is a negative one, when it does not have to be. In the same vein, it is often difficult to admit, without an extensive list of qualifiers, that someone’s day was positively impacted or a little less difficult, due to my actions.
After years of therapy, I learned that it is not selfish to like yourself, to care for yourself – and conversely, selflessness in the extreme could be very damaging. After all of the exercises, after discovering the ‘why’ at the root of this self-neglect, I still struggle with being proactively kind in my thoughts and actions towards myself. As much as physical hygiene like brushing my teeth or taking a shower is a habit, so is emotional hygiene and the physical habit of self-care. The power is within the steadiness of routine.
This leads me to ask, what would it be like if I showed myself the same compassion that I showed to others? What would it look like if I showed up for myself fully each day and what ripple effects would it have?
Let the experiment begin! Check out my 50 Acts PDF list for the Fluttershy exercise here.
I’ve already completed 1 of my 50 Kindness acts towards myself and it was stellar! I recently got a haircut I’ve wanted for years. I instantly felt lighter, happier and more confident. It didn’t hurt that I was also donating my hair to those living with cancer, which is even more of a reason to go for the short hair. What touched me most, to chronicle the ripple effect it had in my life, is that I had so many people, who were cancer survivors, individually reach out and personally thank me for donating my hair, which all-the-more reinforced that I will donate again if or when my hair grew out – and that I am surrounded by some pretty amazing and wonderful people. Read more about it, here.
What Acts of Kindness would you include in your list? Let me know in the comments below!