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Anger, left unexpressed physically, naturally, and constructively, manifests in unkind words, thoughts, or actions. It could be expressed as negativity, criticism, being judgmental, or blaming. Anger, dealt with constructively, brings us back to our heart and lets our love shine through. And we can express our love in acts of kindness.
Kindness shows itself in a lot of ways, such as acts of compassion, helpfulness, empathy, forgiveness, and caring. These gestures ignite feelings of love in both the recipients and ourselves. For maximum effect, kindness must be offered without expecting something in return, except for you to feel more love and connection. Kindness is not a business transaction.
It's no surprise that kindness is one of Attitude Reconstruction's Four Rules of Communication. The other three Communication Rules, just in case you want a reminder, are: 1) "I"s, talk about yourself not others, 2) Specifics, deal in concrete terms, not over-generalities, and 3) Listen well.
The Four Verbal Kindnesses
There are four verbal kindnesses to heap on yourself and others:
We need to direct kindness towards other people and things as well as ourselves. As a daily practice, write, think, or speak one to three of each daily to reap amazing benefits!
It's a real drag to be around someone who has something negative to say about almost everything. Accentuating the positive makes a noticeable difference. For example, you can declare the boss didn't get the complexity and brilliance of your report or relish the fact that you represented all sides of the issue fairly.
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Looking at the glass as half-full is like giving water to a thirsty plant. By leaving out the negative observations and focusing on what you liked instead, you'll elevate your inner state as well as others around you. By focusing on the positive, you open the door for satisfying interactions, uplifting communications, and new solutions.
As you go through your day, replace the "no" with "yes, yes, yes."
Who doesn't just love being told what they're doing right for a change? In his book The Power of Positive Parenting, Dr. Glenn Latham, suggests that the ratio between praise and corrective feedback should be about twenty to two. And this concept doesn't just apply to children.
Across the board, it's infinitely more effective to praise actions that you want to encourage than to punish those you disapprove of. People can't get enough genuine praise, so keep it coming, especially when someone is going through a difficult time. Some examples of praise are:
I'm glad you brought that up.
You did a good job on that.
I like what you just said.
A simple gesture of appreciation can be all that's needed to bring love into the room. Expressing appreciations for others doesn't negate the differences we might have with them, but it super charges the good we see in each other. Instead of criticizing and judging, focus on characteristics or actions that we admire and voice them. Appreciations can be general or specific. Here are some examples of strong appreciations:
I appreciate how you helped me on this.
I appreciate your sense of integrity.
I like how thoughtful you are.
I appreciate that you cleaned your room this morning.
I'm glad you understand how I feel about this.
Being thankful for what you usually take for granted, you become aware of how fortunate and blessed you are. Expressing our thanks reminds us of our bounty and offsets complaints and feelings of entitlement. Specific gratitudes may be:
I'm grateful for my good health.
I'm grateful for my friends and family.
I'm grateful for this meal.
Thank you for your help today.
The field of psychology is coming along. An article from Harvard Medical School proclaims that giving thanks can make you happier.
How Do I Know What's Kind?
Sometimes we get caught in our heads and are not quite sure how to be kind in the present moment. When this happens, pause for a minute and then ask yourself these questions...
* What is most loving?
* What is most compassionate?
* What is most kind?
* Will what I'm about to say move me towards love and connection?
When you hear your answer, obey.
*** Q & A ***
I can give appreciations but squirm when they come towards me. Can you help?
Giving appreciations is half of the equation. The other part is receiving what's offered. We cringe, deflect, discount, and don't let it in because early messages or beliefs have convinced us that we are not worthy. When someone offers thanks or appreciations, we resist because we've been told it's selfish or self-centered to toot our own horn.
The bottom line is we don't accept the gesture of love that is being offered. Being able to fully accept appreciations, thanks, and gratitude is a major step in reclaiming your self-esteem. You can do that by silencing your inner and outer voice when someone lays one on you, and take in the gift you've just been given. At first, it's not easy.
Nod your head up and down, say "yes" and after a generous pause, say either "thank you" or "will you please tell me that again because I'm working on accepting appreciations."
Is it really okay to love myself? That's a radical departure from what I was taught growing up.
Being instructed to love everyone and everything, but not love ourselves, makes no sense. We are just as worthy of love as our neighbor. And how can we truly love others if we don't love ourselves first?
The great spiritual teacher, Ram Das, aka Richard Alpert, suggests we meditate and repeat the following:
I love everybody.
I love everything.
I love myself.
I am loving awareness.
So over and over, repeat the above phrases silently and aloud and see what happens.
©2020 by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
All Rights Reserved.
Book by this Author
Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life
by Jude Bijou, M.A., M.F.T.
With practical tools, real-life examples, and everyday solutions for thirty-three destructive attitudes, Attitude Reconstruction can help you stop settling for sadness, anger, and fear, and infuse your life with love, peace, and joy.
For more info and/or to order this book, click here.
About the Author
Jude Bijou is a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT), an educator in Santa Barbara, California and the author of Attitude Reconstruction: A Blueprint for Building a Better Life. In 1982, Jude launched a private psychotherapy practice and started working with individuals, couples, and groups. She also began teaching communication courses through Santa Barbara City College Adult Education. Visit her website at AttitudeReconstruction.com/
Watch an interview with Jude Bijou: How to Experience More Joy, Love and Peace