My friend started a movement called Spread Loving Kindness (SLK) and the mission of its members is to practice kindness both toward others and to ourselves so we can establish deeper and more genuine connections with one another. One of the hardest questions I have asked myself is “how can I effectively spread loving kindness?” For some people, the answer comes easily and the simple action is effortless. For other people, it may be easy to be kind to others but it needs to go both ways. We must also learn to send ourselves “metta” (loving kindness). Many times we are so consumed with living up to the expectations of others or with just trying to fit in. At this point, we are not effectively manifesting metta because we are not satisfied with ourselves. I will admit that I am still working on this myself. As I have talked about previously, I always had a hard time fitting in growing up. I was teased and bullied, was put in uncomfortable situations where I felt vulnerable, and felt like my peers didn’t accept my differences. I was not satisfied with myself so I would try to act differently in order to be accepted by the groups who usually ignored me. The downside is that this did not work. I wasn’t happy because I wasn’t being myself. Even though this was a long time ago, it still affects me today. One of the thoughts that frequently crosses my mind is “what would my life be like if this or that happened?” But if my life did turn out that way, some of the positive things in my life today may have never arose.
“It may be easy to be kind to others but it needs to go both ways. We must also learn to send ourselves “metta” (loving kindness)”
What I realize now and what I wish I would have embraced back then is that we are are on this planet to share our unique qualities with others and we are only doing ourselves and others a disservice by hiding our insecurities and pretending to be someone we are not just so we can please those who don’t think highly of us. Someone may be missing out if we are not sharing our talents and abilities that we feel insecure about. Another person may love that quality, even though we may not believe so.
I am not going to let other people judge my journey that was longer and had more twists and turns than most people because I am genuinely happy with where the bumpy and unpredictable path has led me. I can empathize with others whose path is not yet clear because I have been there myself. Everyone’s journey is a beautiful story and this story does not need to appear like it does in movies and on television or based on what society thinks is appropriate. We are not robots and we don’t need to compete with one another to be on the same level and to make ourselves feel fulfilled. We can either live unhappily by working a job that we don’t like and by acting in a way that is not our true selves just to please others or we can live happily by listening to our hearts. Our differences are what makes this world a beautiful place to live and we are truly fulfilled when what we do brings joy to others and to ourselves.
So today, set the intention to send yourself metta (loving kindness) and notice how your interactions with others become more meaningful. Appreciate your gifts and don’t be afraid to share with the world. You never know what will happen if you don’t!