To be kind to those who are unkind in return only seems one-sided to the one ‘keeping score’. When reciprocity doesn’t come from people around you, but from the will of the Universe moving through a depiction of characters, you will come to realize how people’s behavior is more reflective of where they are in their journey and never a reflection of your intention or self-worth. While you certainly don’t have to be best friends or lovers with those who ‘take’ with nothing else to ‘give’, because you are serving the will of the Universe, you are always being celebrated by the loving intelligence of divinity for all that you do — even when received by people solely designed to reflect your progress out of the plight of unfairness and into the light of eternal faith.7/4/2021 Matt Kahn newsletter
The following question recently put to me references the above quote:
A question for you, as stated today in Matt Kahn’s newsletter that you don’t have to be friends with those who are unkind to you, do you think it’s more of a reacting in the moment with kindness and then you are ok to choose not to hang out with them anymore? And then how do you handle this with family or people you are more obligated or even forced to see for some time until you can completely break the relationship? I understand fully those societal obligations can be broken but just curious on your take on repeat interactions with those who are unkind.Question put to me
My (somewhat revised/edited) response:
Yes this is a little more tricky and complicated. Without knowing specifics, what comes to mind now for more general day to day interactions with those we are more obligated and/or forced to interact with: sometimes the kindest thing we can do for ourselves and others is establish and maintain as firm of boundaries for as long as necessary. And we can do so with kindness, compassion and limiting our time spent in these interactions. While this takes courage and bravery I also feel it’s even more helpful to express our feelings (if possible and without saying they are causing them) and clearly express these boundaries to the involved parties. How exactly this is done — and in what tone and manner — is the rub though.
For example, years ago I got to the point where I just told my mom that we had to take a break — no communications whatsoever except for emergencies for one week. I rarely saw her more upset after I did this and had never seen such benefits in our relationship afterwards. Obviously this is just an example not a suggestion.
We all start where we are. I love Matt Kahn’s teachings. While the effect is not often immediately noticeable, nor step-by-step practical, for me these teachings plant seeds and seem to revolutionize my views, perceptions and ways of being in the world.
And as far as “reacting in the moment with kindness and then you are ok to choose not to hang out with them anymore” I’d say it is even OK to choose not to hang out with someone no matter how you have been or have not been. And just because the choice is made not to hang out doesn’t mean one must keep being kind, or stop being kind to them, whether in their presence or not. I’ve found, eventually though, with a regular loving-kindness practice, loving-kindness is a natural state that arrises more and more without (much) effort once what is in its way starts to dissolve.
And while it is certainly OK, I don’t really see this in terms of equity like “OK, now since I’ve been kind to them I’m OK to stop hanging out with them.” Also, kindness is different from niceness. I feel niceness can range from the inverted “I really don’t want to interact much with you” to the authentic icing on the cake of kindness.