Kindness Deconstructed, A Fun With Foibles Post

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John the CincyZooLion is not pleased that Ally Bean was dissed. *growl*

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I’VE ALWAYS OPERATED UNDER THE ASSUMPTION that kindness is a good thing.

This, of course, is a simplistic point of view.  One that along the way has gotten me into more trouble than you might imagine, allowing me to perfect my eye-rolling technique.

From what I can tell, if someone, for some reason, does not believe that they deserve kindness, then anyone who shows them kindness becomes a problem.

And it’s time for a squabble.

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TO WIT, LOOKING OUT MY WINDOW I remembered that a former neighbor here in the midwest, who now lives on the other side of the country, used to love this time of year.

So, spontaneously, without any expectation of reciprocity, I sent her a fast, sincere thinking-of-you email.

A random act of kindness.

A note saying someone cares about you. 

A positive little message. 

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WITHIN THE HOUR SHE WAS ON the phone, not calling to thank me, but to tell me how bad she felt about herself after receiving my kind email.

That I made her feel like a failure because she never thought to send anyone a thinking-of-you email.

And why did I bother with this email, anyhow?  Was I trying to make her feel guilty?

What was my real motivation?

And my only response, which was the truth but it seemed to irritate her, was that I was thinking. of. her.  She liked this time of year in the midwest and I remembered that.

I was just saying “hello.”  Nothing more.

*eye roll*

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WHILE THE GOLDEN RULE MAKES SENSE to me, I’ve come to discover that occasionally doing unto others what you would want for yourself, can lead to resentment among others.

Somehow, it would seem that some people with low self-esteem, or perhaps the inability to understand generosity of spirit, misinterpret kindness to mean manipulation.

Or showing off.

Or sanctitude.

Or, I guess, some other off-putting behavior, sneaky and weird, that doesn’t say friendship to them.

Meaning that, if you’re primed to believe that the golden rule is suspect behavior, then my kind email marked me immediately as an untrustworthy human being.

Twisted logic, huh?  Go figure.

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“Attention is the rarest and purest form of generosity.”

~ SIMONE WEIL

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Ally Bean

Observant. Creative. Humorous. Adaptable. Happy enough. Looking for the crumb of truth in the cookie of life.

30 thoughts on “Kindness Deconstructed, A Fun With Foibles Post”

  1. Just remember—it’s not you, it’s the other person. You did the right thing. She just turned it all around, which is sad, but there is nothing you can do about it. She’ll never change. Just keep being your kind self!

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    1. Beth, you are so right. I agree, she’ll not change [without hours of therapy that I doubt that she’ll ever seek], so whatever. But I mean really…

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  2. I would think (and hope!) that person’s response would be the exception rather than the norm. A sincere “thinking of you” gesture, whether an email, text message, letter, or phone call is a welcome treat for most people. (Well, except for the phone call part. We introverts prefer the first three. 😉 )

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    1. Carrie, there was never any bad blood btwn us so I was somewhat surprised by her response. I agree, most ppl would see my gesture for what it was: a bit of good cheer and friendliness directed their way. But not this woman!

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        1. Carrie, I think that you’ve nailed it. She always was one to get overwhelmed by the smallest of things. I’m not taking this too personally, but it did leave me banging my head on my desk.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. LOL, I am cynical to the core. I might not express it, but I will always assume there is an ulterior motive for everything. Maybe it’s a character flaw of us squirrels….

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    1. evilsquirrel13, when it comes to friendship I’m one of the most ulterior-motive-free people on earth. So this former neighbor’s cross examination about my motives revealed to me a woman who must not know how to read people. However, as for business relationships, that’s where I become cynical. Like a squirrel. 😉

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    1. Kate, I’m so sorry that my kind behavior upset you so! Is this not one of the most ridiculous situations yet? I do good… and am misunderstood. Honestly, head. to. desk.

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  4. What the even heck? (Sorry, a saying I’ve picked up from a you-tuber my daughter follows…still, sometimes it’s just the exact right thing to say.) I mean, you wrote her a nice email, and she felt bad because she doesn’t send nice emails? The solution to that is to send some nice emails yourself, missy, not call Ally Bean and scold her for doing something you only WISH you had thought of first! Grrr.

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    1. J, you said it! I’m not to blame for her lack of emailing. Nor was my kind email a premeditated way to make her look bad. It was a gesture of caring– which won’t happen again in her general direction. No surprise there, eh?

      [I like the YouTube phrase. Very apropos.]

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  5. Good gad, unbelievable. I am always so touched and delighted to get any thinking of you card, e-mail, etc. Please, dear lady, consider the source(s) and continue to be the person you are–kind, thoughtful and delightful.

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    1. Margaret, I, too, am delighted when I receive some indication that someone is thinking kindly about me, so this woman’s response caught me off guard. I doubt that it had a thing to do with me as a person & had more to do with her own insecurities– or something. Go figure.

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  6. I confess that it’s not unusual for me to have a bit of a guilty reaction when I get that sort of email. Not because I think the other person is trying to make me feel guilty, but because I am much more likely to respond to email than to initiate the exchange. I think you were right when you said that some people don’t think that they’re worth kindness. It takes a lifetime to get to that place and I’m not sure, even when you are aware enough to know that your crazy reaction is not real, that it ever really goes away.

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    1. Zazzy, I’m not expecting this woman’s behavior to change because, like you said, I doubt that she’s self-aware enough to know it was wacky. She’s always been one to be overwhelmed by life, so this email may have tapped into that reality– thus leading to a long phone call accusing me of being… intentionally provocative? Meanly kind? I dunno what exactly.

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  7. Maybe she was just having a bad day. I’m kind of a walking contradiction, because I’m cynical about the world in general, but very positive about my own place in it. I despise society with all it’s cruelty and hypocrisy, but am also very nice to people that I meet. whether it be in physical form or on the internet. That being said, I do “wake up on the wrong side of the bed” from time to time, and if a person met me for the first time on one of those days, they might have a completely different perception of me than most folks get. (Maybe it was just one of those days for your friend.)

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    1. domingosaurus, you bring up an excellent point. I agree, she might have been in a bad place when I sent her the email. It all just struck me as so weird that I was confused when it happened. I’ll still remain in touch because I always like this woman.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Yikes. Not at all what you expected (nor her, either, I guess!), that’s for sure. I hope you don’t let it deter you. As others have mentioned, perhaps she was feeling overwhelmed in general, or guilty, or having a tough time of it lately.

    I always try hard to make Kindness my Default. As another wise commenter above said, It’s Not You, It’s Her…for whatever reason.

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    1. nance, I’ll still keep on being me, but this former neighbor’s response got me thinking about how we all assume that what we think of as kindness, might not be interpreted as kindness by other people. ‘Ya know?

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  9. Um…wow.

    Yknow, Groupon sometimes does discount promotions for mental health therapy. Maybe send this particular individual one of those, next time you feel like reaching out with kindness? I mean, if you’re going to be accused of trying to make her feel bad anyway — might as well send something that could be helpful with that problem!

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    1. Alice, you’re onto something here. I don’t know why this former neighbor acted like she did, but it’s not my job to make her whole. A coupon might be just what the doctor ordered. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

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