When Being Kind Ends Up Being Unkind

My darling and I are generally very easy-going people. Accommodating, understanding that sometimes life gets in the way and people make mistakes. Until we’re not. There is very little space between us being accommodating and then deciding the person we are dealing with is just taking the mickey.

It’s been an on-going issue for years. When I look over my interactions with people, so often my response to them not following through or doing what they said they would is ‘No worries’. I mean it, I am not worried, I get life happens and things get challenging at times.

I have also begun to realise this sets up a series of expectations around what I will accept. If I am not bothered by being let down once, I am then often relegated to the bottom of people’s priority list. When there are competing demands, my wants or needs will be pushed down the list for someone who is less kind, more vocal, and who makes disappointing them more unpleasant.

My ‘no worries’ has a limited life span. This is something I fail to point out to people, when I generously throw around absolution for letting me down or not showing up. My ‘no worries’ sends a false message of accommodation that leads people to feel secure in my never-ending approbation and understanding.

People are often shocked or hurt when I decide I have had enough and end the interaction, or stop being accommodating. They are surprised when I suddenly ‘am worried’ and hold them to account. They can often end up blaming me for this turn of events, and feel I am being unreasonable. Expecting them to follow through on what they have promised becomes something I have no right to expect, because I have taught them I will accept less than that.

So, whose fault is that? Theirs for being flaky? Or mine for allowing them to believe I was going to accept flakiness forever?

I have to believe it is mine. I set the tone, I lowered their expectations of what I would tolerate, my kindness was misinterpreted.

Or does it go deeper than that? Are there some issues around entitlement that I need to unpack? Do I feel I deserve less than others?

I think for a long time this was the case. I tolerated less, because I felt deserving of less. My sense of entitlement has shifted, but my go to responses to people who let me down have not. I am telling people it is ok to not perform, when actually I have an expectation they will, and it damages my regard of them when they don’t.

My seeming kindness is actually unkind, to myself and to those around me. I short-change myself and set others up to damage their relationships with me, sometimes to the point of no return. I am unwittingly setting people up to fail. When I tell a client it’s fine they forgot to pay me, or tell the landlord it’s ok they haven’t done the repairs they said they would, I am telling people they can walk all over me. I am telling them, I don’t value me or my time, the implicit message in that is they shouldn’t value me or my time either.

This can happen in our couple relationships. We let things go and let things go and then suddenly explode over a seemingly trivial matter. Keeping ourselves in balance sometimes means speaking up before we lose our shit! Being able to set a boundary when we are calm and centred is far more effective than losing it. The repair job takes up precious energy we could be spending on enjoying each other.

What messages are you sending with your kindness and generosity?

Is your kindness really kind? Or is it a fear of setting a much needed boundary?

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