Letting Go of Nothing

Relax Your Mind and Discover
the Wonder of Your True Nature


The word “kind” stems from “kin”—those of the same family or tribe, those we are close to—those of the same kind.

Deep down, we’re all of the same kind. We want to be at ease, to be treated with respect, to feel cared for and appreciated. None of us wants to feel criticized, rejected, ignored, or manipulated. To reduce it to its simplest terms, we each want to feel loved. I don’t mean love in a romantic sense, or some outpouring of emotion; but simple caring. This is the universal bottom line of every human relationship. We want to feel cared for. We want to be treated kindly.

If we ourselves want to be treated this way, we should do the same for others. But, if we aren’t careful, we easily end up doing the exact opposite. Instead of trying to ensure someone feels cared for and appreciated, we can descend into a vicious circle of recrimination and attack.

It usually starts with feeling hurt over something that someone said or did. Whether or not they intended to hurt us doesn’t matter. The fact is we feel hurt. Then, if we’re not fully conscious of our emotional reactions, we’ll likely defend ourselves by attacking back. It’s not the noblest or wisest response; nevertheless, it’s the way we less-than-enlightened folk tend to react. It may be a cutting remark or criticism, a resentful tone of voice, a shift in body language, or simply a prolonged silence. Whatever form it takes, the underlying intention is that the other person should feel just a little hurt—not much, not enough to disrupt the relationship, but sufficient that they don’t feel totally loved.

But if, as is likely, they, too, are not fully aware of their emotional reactions, their response to a perceived attack will probably be similar to ours. They will attack back, doing or saying something intended to make us feel just a little hurt, and not totally loved.

Soon a vicious circle gets set up. It may not always be that obvious. On the surface, the relationship might appear to be going well; both people appearing friendly, with no open hostility. But underneath, a sad game is being played out. Each person, in their attempt to have the other behave in a more loving manner, is withholding their own love. They’re effectively saying to each other: “You’re not being kind to me. Therefore, I’m going to be a little unkind to you, so that you realize the error of your ways, and treat me better.”

It’s a lose-lose game. Little wonder many relationships—personal, social, and work—find themselves on rocky ground

The vicious circle can be broken when we remember that, just as we want to feel loved and appreciated, so do they. Our intention then becomes: How can I communicate so they don’t feel attacked or rejected; but cared for and respected?

We can start by becoming vigilant for attacking thoughts and motives. Filtering out any attack, however subtle, from our communication can resolve much of the problem at source.

This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t speak our truth. But we should explore ways to say it that help the other feel appreciated, rather than attacked. When you have something difficult to say, you might preface it with the reason you want to say it, letting them know it comes from an attitude of caring rather than attack. For example, you might say: “I value our relationship, and want to see it grow, but for that to happen, I need to discuss an issue that’s difficult for me.” This sets a very different tone from simply blurting it out.

Or it may help to express your own fears—they are also part of the truth. Revealing your fear of rejection, or of being misunderstood, can help the other appreciate your concerns, and put them more at ease—which, remember, is the goal of this exercise.

And when this practice slips, as it surely will from time to time, and the attacking mode creeps back in, there’s nothing like a genuine apology to set things back on track. Own up to your mistake (we’re all human, after all), and try to express yourself again more caringly.

This practice of kindness is essentially “The Golden Rule” found at the heart of every religion. In the Bible it is said: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” Similarly, in the Koran we find, “No one of you is a believer until he desires for his brother that which he desires for himself.”

If we all applied this principle to everyone we met or spoke to, the world would be a very different place.

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