Kindness doesn’t just mean you’re nice. Kindness is far more than that – it’s about your true intentions.
When you’re kind, you want to see other people succeed and thrive. And you want to do everything in your power to support them on that journey.
Most of all, you are brimming with so much genuine love for yourself and others that you’re not afraid to share it.
So, is there some kind of manual on how to become kinder?
Luckily, yes! However, lots of it isn’t about specific actions you should do but rather about behaviors you need to let go of.
And what are they, I hear you ask?
Let’s have a look.
If you want to be a kinder person, say goodbye to these 10 behaviors.
1) Letting judgment cloud your thoughts
Narrow-mindedness is the death of authentic connections. It means you’re unwilling to learn about other people’s experiences, accept that reality is more complex than you think, and be open to change.
What’s more, judgment can easily turn into cold or unapproachable behavior. And if there’s somebody no one wants to confide in, it’s the cold person who judges everything that doesn’t fit within their own perception of the world.
So, rule number one: keep your mind open. Everyone’s experience differs and deserves to be validated.
Instead of judging, listen with compassion and a desire to understand.
Here’s the deal. Gossiping doesn’t necessarily hurt the person you’re talking about – they’re not there, after all – but it does have an impact on all the people who can hear you.
Before long, they’ll wonder if you’re talking about them behind their back as well, which is enough to give rise to mistrust, suspicion, or even self-esteem issues.
“If she thinks that girl’s hair is awful, what does she think about my own hair?” Something as simple as that is all a relationship needs to eventually crumble (if you don’t change, that is).
Try your best to keep the focus of your conversations on yourself and the person you’re speaking to.
3) Being “brutally honest”
More often than not, brutal honesty is unkindness in disguise. When you’re “brutally honest”, you’re hiding your rude behavior under a pretense of virtue – “I’d never lie to you, I pride myself on my honesty” – while hurting the people who love you.
Don’t get me wrong, there are times when people need a shake-up. But before things get to that point, gentle honesty is the best policy.
Be honest. Don’t be unnecessarily cruel.
4) Making fun of others
Similarly, humor can be a great way to throw insults left and right while pretending you’re just “joking around”.
But the problem is that most people can tell there’s more to your jokes than meets the eye. And it wounds them. And when they bring it up, you tell them they just “can’t take a joke” when the real problem is actually your own behavior. You are the one who can’t make jokes without putting others down in the process, after all.
There is harmless fun and banter. Then there is mocking behavior and insults veiled behind humor.
Make sure you can tell the difference.
5) Complaining 24/7
While this one isn’t necessarily directed at anyone specifically – you might be complaining about your job, the weather, or the seagulls shrieking behind your window every morning – it is still unkind.
Because you are willingly passing on your negativity to another person. No one enjoys interacting with a pessimist all the time. It drains them of energy, brings their own spirits down, and generally makes them feel like rubbish.
When you go out with a friend, think of what energy you’re bringing with you. Of course, there will always be days when you complain, and that’s perfectly normal.
But if you tend to complain all the time…it’s time to tune it down a bit.
6) Taking your frustrations out on the people around you
Do you know those days when everything goes wrong, you feel on edge, and everyone is way too irritating for your liking?
Yeah. They’re the worst.
But the last thing that’d make it better is to take all your anger out on people who’ve done nothing wrong. It may feel good for a little while, but chances are, you’ll just end up feeling ashamed and even more upset once the deed is done.
If you’re angry or upset, say it. “I’m sorry, I’m having a really bad day today. It’s got nothing to do with you.” Then try your best not to use another person as a punching bag for your emotions.
7) Sorting people into black-and-white categories
Not everyone makes a great first impression. They might be having a really bad day, they might have just received some crushing news, or they might be feeling introverted and shy.
The kind thing to do is to give them the benefit of the doubt.
People are intricate and complex. You can’t sort them into “evil” and “good” categories.
Sometimes, all they need is some space to open up.
8) Holding grudges
Greg told you that you were dumb back in eighth grade, and you’re still feeling bitter about it four years later.
In the meantime, Greg’s gone through a personal transformation, has become a volunteer at a dog shelter, and treats people with respect.
But that doesn’t matter. He said it, and you simply can’t let it go.
While most of us hold grudges for behavior that’s much worse than some teenage guy making fun of your wits, it’s a good example of how unkind resentment is.
When you’re bitter about someone’s past behavior, you’re not granting them the chance to grow over time. You’re using them as a fixed point toward which to direct your bitterness.
But people change. They learn. The kindest thing you can do is to use your pain to grow as a person, let go of the past, and eventually reach forgiveness.
And you know what? Forgiveness isn’t just kind to the person you’re forgiving. It’s kind to yourself because you no longer have to carry the heavy burden of resentment.
9) Always putting yourself first
I’ll be the first person to tell you that your well-being is the number one priority. But everything has its limits.
If you’re in a relationship with someone, be it a partner, friend, or family member, it’s important to take responsibility for your role in it.
And what do I mean by that?
People naturally rely on each other. When you make a close friend, for instance, you’re choosing to be each other’s shoulder to cry on. It’s not just about convenience. Sometimes, it’s also about commitment.
When your friend’s having a mental breakdown, you call them even though you were planning to watch a movie. When your partner’s going through a tough time, you make some sacrifices on your end to make sure you’re there for them.
Your wants don’t always come first. Sometimes, you’ve got to factor in the magnitude of your close ones’ situations and needs, too.
10) Being your worst enemy
The majority of the behaviors described in this article stem from one thing: a lack of self-love.
When you put others down, you’re probably doing it because you feel very insecure. When you complain all the time, you’re failing to see how much power you have over your life. When you’re taking out your anger on others, you don’t possess the necessary coping mechanisms to help you deal with the emotion on your own.
So, if you want to be a kinder person, the primary thing you need to do is to take a deep dive into your own mind.
Kindness isn’t a limited resource. The kinder you are to yourself, the more likely you are to give the same energy to others.
It’s a bit like fire. When one candle lights another, its power doesn’t die. It spreads.