By Susie Ekberg
Q: I try to live by the Golden Rule. I try to be kind to everyone, but I don’t know what to do when someone is just mean, or mistakes my kindness for something more. Where’s the line between nice and too nice?
A: Let me applaud your application of the Golden Rule. Some variation is found in almost all world religions, and in my world it just makes good sense. If we’re all connected, all one, then how I treat you is how I’m treating myself, and if I’m mean to you, I’m somehow affected also.
And kudos to you for making the effort to be kind to everyone. We’re all doing the best we can, and we need others to be gentle with us. So what do you do when someone is mean to you, even if YOU’RE playing nice?
It sucks to be treated unfairly. It doesn’t feel good. But it is NEVER about you! If you’ve been kind, or haven’t even had an encounter (or don’t even know the person) and they do something mean, you just KNOW it’s nothing you did. Right?
I know it’s easy to SAY that, but seriously, we all seem to take things personally, and if someone flips us off in traffic for no reason, we assume we’re being bad, or wrong, and somehow magically if we had done something different, that guy wouldn’t have gotten so angry.
That kind of magical thinking will drive you crazy, because you have no control over anybody else. How can YOU control what kind of a day that stranger is having? You can’t. You can only smile and wave and do your best from where you’re standing (or driving). What they choose to do with their world is up to them.
So while I am an advocate for being as nice as humanly possible, I also think there’s a danger in going overboard, and extending our boundaries too far out so that we aren’t always keeping our OWN best interests in mind.
If someone insults you, it’s NOT kind to just LET them insult you. That’s being unkind to yourself. You’re not defending yourself, and I don’t think that’s loving. You might say to that person, “Hey, that hurt my feelings when you said that, and it wasn’t very kind.” You’re not being unkind back to them – you’re being kind to yourself by championing yourself. There’s a difference.
That leads me into the next part of your question, which involves people sometimes misinterpreting your kindness to mean something “more.” I’m assuming you mean that because you’re friendly and open, people might think you’re romantically interested. Am I correct? That’s a little trickier, but a problem that I’m fascinated by, because it involves energy, and that’s my forte.
If everyone were energetically balanced, I don’t think there’d be much of a problem with misinterpreting energetic signals. Love would be love in that perfect world. If both are ready and open to attraction, they’d feel it, they’d know it, and there would be no miscommunication.
But if one person doesn’t have as much self-awareness, he or she could misread that same Universal Love energy as Romantic Love because that’s what they’re looking for, wherever they ‘feel the love’, even if it’s NOT Romantic Love coming from someone else. Does that make sense? No.
If you’re friendly and open and really like people, even strangers may think they “know” you, when in fact you’re not particularly singling THEM out as extra-special – you treat EVERYONE the same. The person can misread your kindness as special only to THEM, and think there’s something more to it than there really is. If that happens, you have the option of toning down your friendliness energy, if you will, and see if that smoothes things out a bit.
I love people. I really do. I think they’re fabulous. But I am happily married, and have my best friends who have access to all of me, good friends who have access to most of me, and my family, my first priority. There are layers and levels of friendship and access, and nobody is allowed more access than I want or allow, and I’m in charge of maintaining and setting those boundaries (as are you, for yourself, and everybody else for themselves).
I choose to stay open (for the most part) to friendly interactions with people because I feel it’s what I can do to make the world a better place, and because it helps people heal and feel cared about. But if I feel uncomfortable about any interactions with people, I have no qualms about cutting them off, or maintaining only the most necessary contact with them. I protect myself, and I urge you and everyone else to do the same. It’s great to be kind, but it’s important to remember that your primary relationship in this lifetime is with yourself, so take care of YOU in all situations.
Again, as for others misinterpreting your actions, be as clear as possible, then let it go. What others think of you is none of your business (to paraphrase a famous quote), so I wouldn’t worry about it too much.
From what I can see, you’re a very loving, very intuitive, fabulous person, and I wouldn’t want to change ANY of that about you. However, in that mix I’d also like to see you develop more muscle when it comes to defending and taking care of yourself, because I think a healthy dose of that muscular energy can go a long way in defining and maintaining healthy boundaries.
Love IS the answer; it’s the most powerful force in the Universe; it IS fabulous, and in the end, I think it’s all that really matters, so thank you for showing Love to the rest of us. Thank you for being kind, and thank you for playing nice. It’s a lesson we ALL can stand to learn.
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