The Mistake of Viewing Kindness as Weakness

Why is it that being kind is sometimes (more often than not) viewed as being weak? Every one of us has the potential within ourselves to lend a helping hand, provide words of motivation, and even go outside of our way to empathize with others when they are feeling down. Sometimes that can be viewed as “weak”. Others it can seem the individual is timid and soft.

On the contrary, people who seem to be ill-mannered and brusque, more times than not, are often viewed as strong, commendable people. Why is that?

Two types of characters come to mind when I think about these two different types of behaviors. Superman and Batman.

On one hand, you have the symbol of hope, a friend for all seasons. The embodiment of an idea that doing the right thing is always just. The idea that being kind always wins, and that making an effort to show people they are stronger than they think they are is the noble path to tread.

On the other hand, you have a symbol of fear. The belief that nobody is good in this world and everyone is out to get you. The idea that you have to take care of yourself because no one else will; the very embodiment of being abrasive.

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Now regardless of who is your favorite, one is kind and the other… not so much. One is viewed as being soft, while the other is viewed as rock hard. And it doesn’t just extend to those two characters. I feel as a whole, the media represents people who are kind as soft-spoken doormat type people. While simultaneously representing abrasive and rude people as a “boss” or an “alpha”.

I suspect a big reason for this is how we are raised. Generally, we are taught growing up “the world is hard”, “always look out for yourself”, “trust no one” and to “take care of your own.” Although we are taught other qualities as well “don’t be selfish”, “share your toys”, “don’t be rude”. Those phrases seem to come when we are being rebuked. When we are young our child-like wonder lets us believe we can do anything. When we get older we start to harden ourselves to either protect our privacy, friends and family, and even our own way of life. 

We start to realize the world is a tough place, and that things might not always work out the way we want; sometimes when we think that way, we begin to only care about ourselves.

“But people always take advantage of me being kind.” they say.

I honestly believe this to be untrue. If you are truly being kind to someone, without any expectation of reciprocation, then it is extremely hard to feel taken advantage of. How can you feel taken advantage of if you’re truly expecting nothing in return?  

Being a kind person does not mean you say yes to everything and everyone.

The definition of kindness is: the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate.

Now I know you just thought of the word generous and immediately thought about money. Friendly and considerate seem fairly easy to do, but now we are talking about money?!

Not exactly. Let’s take a look at the word generous:

  • (of a person) showing a readiness to give more of something, like money or time, than is strictly necessary or expected.
  • (of a thing) larger or more plentiful than is usual or necessary.

Being generous means to go above and beyond what is expected of you. To give more than is necessary than the average standard. Devoting more time and attention to something or someone would also be considered being kind.

Here is a list of ways to be kind in a generous fashion.

  • Let someone in front of you in traffic.
  • Volunteer.
  • Clean up after yourself.
  • Pick up litter.
  • Smile at everyone you see.
  • Send/buy flowers at random.
  • Randomly text a friend, family or loved one you hope they have a great day.
  • When greeting someone, listen for their answer.
  • Hold a door open.
  • Leave some extra quarters at a laundromat.
  • Buy someone a meal.
  • Buy someone a coffee/tea.
  • Drop off socks or a blanket to a shelter.
  • Donate books to a library.
  • Donate toys.
  • Post sticky notes in bathrooms of positive words.
  • Share someone else’s tweet/story/post on social media.

Being kind is a way of life. It is not always easy to do and does take time and energy from yourself and your day to impart to something or someone else. It can be hard sometimes to stop and hold a door open for someone behind you if you are in a rush. It can be hard sometimes to smile at the people you encounter every day. But in the true spirit of being kind, it is not about you, more so, what you can do for others. Doing acts of kindness with the expectation of nothing in return seems thankless at times. But it sure feels great when we are surprised by a random act of kindness toward ourselves, doesn’t it?

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“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

We have all heard or seen that quote somewhere. We truly never know what someone else is going through. In that aspect, wouldn’t being kind be viewed as someone who is tough? Someone who is compassionate towards others? Someone who is not weak, but strong enough to go out of their way to empathize with someone else? I think it does. There is nothing weak about being kind to others. If anything, it just proves how strong you are for continuing to practice kindness with zero expectations in return. The world needs more kindness, I think we can all agree, so let’s take a stand to be the kindness we want to see in this world.