An ICU nurse friend of mine posted an interesting question on Facebook this week: “What’s the cost of kindness?” I responded in my unique, coach-like way, saying that I thought for many people kindness comes at the expense of self if we don't take the time to fill up first before we give to another.
I’ve noticed that those who give and give and give (with good intentions, of course) often feel sick, tired or sick-and-tired. They have depleted their inner reserves for the sake of others. As I said, well-intentioned. But I’ve found that it’s in giving from the overflow, from a heart that is so full from self-love and self-care that the kindness naturally flows out to others generously. A solid commitment to self-care ensures that our fountain of kindness remains a renewable and sustainable resource.
So what does self-care look like? Well, it’s different for different people.
It might include:
- Quiet time -- that rare commodity that many of us gave up on awhile ago
- Time outside -- to reconnect with the supportive energies of nature
- Thoughtful nutrition -- check out http://www.slowfoodusa.org/index.php/slow_food/
- Enjoyable exercise -- whatever feels really good to the body
- Rest -- as in eight or more hours of sleep
- FUN -- anything that makes us laugh or feels like play
The point here is that if my inner well has dried up from giving to everyone else first then I’m not going to be very kind at all. Or patient. Or loving. Or any of the things my heart really wants to express to others. Because I haven’t expressed it first to myself.
It’s in being fully responsible for ourselves that we can offer something of value and authenticity to others. True kindness costs nothing when it comes from the overflow of a well-cared-for heart.