Monday, June 8, 2015

Compliments Heal a Broken Heart

I am the first to admit I posses a tendency to fall prey to weakness. I, especially, struggle when it comes to gossip, trash-talk, and judgement. I hear the painful words of gossip leave my lips and hear my head scream, why, why, why do you need to say what you just said. And, then, I spend the rest of the day or week or month reliving my moment of nastiness. I vow to change my voice and, in many different ways, I try to stop this habitual pattern. I make rules I must follow, like a forty day abstinence from any and all gossip. Or a rule that insists I correct a nasty and unnecessary thought by changing the bad thought to a good and kind thought. I am better, but I can’t seem to entirely kick the habit. 

All of these take-downs manifest in a variety of words and thoughts. Competition and judgement and beliefs and politics all feed this kind of negativity. I learned it is still trash-talk even if I think I am very, very right. I don’t have a clue why another person believes or feels or acts they way he does. I don't know his hurt or his hard. Placing any kind of judgement on him, no matter how right I feel, is unnecessary and completely not helpful to progress; of any kind. Everyone thinks differently. Everyone comes from a background or situation or life experience that is entirely his own. It is, simply, not my job or place to judge or even have an opinion. Kindness outweighs rightness every single time. I wish I could embrace this idea every moment of every day. But, alas, I am human. Even though I try and focus on the kindness part, I still mess up, a lot. I still engage on a level that makes me feel small. I feel small because I tear someone else down. My own words cause the smallness, not the other person or people or what ever injustice occurred. I create the icky feeling all on my own.

After another failed attempt at eliminating this destructive vernacular, I decided I was due for a change in my approach. And just like I usually do whenever I can’t figure out a solution, I headed to my meditation space, lit a candle, got on my knees, and asked for help. I sat in silence for quite some time. And because prayer and meditation aren’t magic, I didn't hear a loud and booming voice calling me or offering a profound answer, I only felt calmer. I only felt a bit of peace. However, this peace and detachment leads me to a path of clarity.  And in this cleared space, I washed the dishes and I thought of the hens

These girls, and their entire family, mom, dad, and brother, are poster people for positivity and love. Their positive energy is so palpable, so enveloping, it overpowers any space in which they reside. A friend of mine, unknowingly, regularly visits a local juice bar and the youngest hen, Bridget, waits on him and prepares his daily juice order. Bridget told me she recognized this friend, but was unsure if he knew who she was. The last time she saw him was several years ago. At a recent dinner with friends, I mentioned to this friend that Bridget works at the juice bar. His face lit up like a bright star on a dark night. He shared he had no idea this was the same Bridget he knew as a much younger girl. More importantly, he continued describe Bridget’s energy and smile and kindness. She lights up the room. She’s magnetic and I just feel better after I see her. His words were unsolicited and came purely from his heart. And just like my friend, when I think of these girls, the hens, I feel the exact same way. I feel better after I am with them, all of them or just one of them. 

I finished the dishes and created a plan. Instead of trying to eliminate my bad habit, I chose to work to create a new habit. When I first enter the hens home or they come into my home or I run into one of them while she is running, I am always greeted with a heartfelt smile and a compliment. They never fail to find one nice thing to say to me or anyone. If a person comes up in conversation at the dinner table, one of them always chimes in with a kind thought or story about the person. Their words are never fake. Their words are never malicious. Just kind. Always kind. And I figured, if these girls are a good decade younger than I and can muster up such kindness, I certainly can give this whole compliment thing a try. Instead of finding fault in another, I vowed to find one kind and loving compliment to extend. Even when I am alone and angry and hurt, I remember the hens, stop my mouth, and say something kind. The funny thing is, this method works really, really well. It causes me to step back from my internal madness and focus on what is right, what is good, what is the darkest of moments.

Insecurity, hurt, envy, anger, and competition bring out the worst in us. When we engage on this level of pain, instead of making ourselves feel better, we just add to our own misery. What we water grows. Rather than healing ourselves and exorcising our pain, we end up hurting and causing more hurt. We, not only hurt ourselves, but we hurt others. No one wins and we are left with scars of shame and pain and fear. 

Love isn’t born from anger. Love doesn’t blossom out of resentment. Love is born from kindness and forgiveness. Love is finding what is right and good, in all situations, especially the ones we don't like. When we decide to focus on the ninety-nine percent of what isn't right in our lives...what isn't going our way, what didn't turn out how we hoped, the fault in how another responded to us or behaved towards us...we slowly begin to learn love lives in that one-percent that is right and good and deserving of a compliment. This one-percent not only deserves a compliment, but a compliment said with a kind smile and an open heart and an energy that lights up the room. What we compliment in another doesn’t just end with our friend who hurt us. It grows and flourishes and flowers; wrapping its vines around all of us. Building each other up, genuine kindness, and seeing the good makes us all better. 

Once again, I am the first to admit this practice of finding the sparkling one-percent isn’t easy, especially when my heart is broken and hurt and in pain. But, I will still try. I will still try  because I like to give compliments. I like to build up, rather than tear down. The big secret I learned is this kind of true generosity doesn't make me feel all dark and twisty inside. It actually makes me feel good and whole and worthy. And when I fail, I will try again. I will forgive my weakness and continue to extend the compliments that build this foundation of love. I will continue to try, not only because living with a generous heart and spirit is the only way to truly live, but because love and kindness are the only antidotes to a bruised and broken heart. We all need to heal and the healing begins with us.


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