5 ways to find kindness for people who are not your friends
Being kind to friends is easy. Being kind to strangers is also easy. So treat people who are not your friends like strangers, and you'll have a lot more kindness in your heart. And four more ways to give kindness a try.
Being kind to people who are not your friends comes easily to some, but others may experience a bit more friction in this arena. Over the years through my spiritual experiences and insights, or in conversation with other souls on the path, I have come across several ways to douse the embers of unkindness and relieve the tension around a hardened heart.
Being kind to a friend is easy. You have hopefully developed a deep emotional connection with this person, feel safe to be vulnerable and weak with them and trust them to hold high your presence in their lives. The motivational factors to encourage kindness are overt and persistent. But, be it strangers, acquaintances, ex-friends, ex-lovers or enemies, unkindness may rule the day with those you do not hold in such high esteem.
So how do you find the kindness within yourself to give to someone you dislike, or just don’t like?
Find something you like about someone you don’t
Anything. Even their shoes. There has to be something about this person, inside or out that you enjoy, adore, or at the very least tolerate. Find it and focus on it. Your feelings and energy toward this person will likely change immediately. Perhaps not it its entirety, but at least for that moment. And when the moment fades, find something else you like about him. These gentle, soft, temperate emotions are in there, you just need to coax them out.
Appreciate the beneficial things this non-friend has brought into your life
He or she gave you or left you something of value. Find it. It may be tangible or intangible, a gift or an object, thought or idea or a spark that sets off a new way of thinking, living or loving. This person benefited your life in some way, recognize it and accept it. In the end, you can learn to be happy to meet everyone who crosses your path and comes into your life. No matter how things transpire, or how they may exit.
Acknowledge the lessons someone who is not your friend has taught you, or that you’ve learned from him. There’s a blessing in every lesson, and a lesson in everything. You live and learn — so learn quickly and move forward. Take the life lesson this person being in or no longer being in your life taught you. It may be something as small as “I like to laugh,” or as big as “I deserve to be happy.” Take the lessons with you on the rest of your journey. Don’t forget them, or you may attract someone else to repeat the lesson. Each time around, it gets harder to learn, and harder to forget!
Treat a non-friend with the respect you would give a stranger
The simplest way to show kindness to someone who is not a friend is to just pretend you don’t know her. Really! Don’t ignore her necessarily; just treat her with the same common courtesy you would afford a stranger. Be cordial, polite and friendly. Then, move on.
Allow someone on your bad side to regain the place they’ve lost in your life
That is, if he makes an effort to earn it back. How the effort is manifest is entirely up to you. An explanation of what went wrong and, perhaps, an apology would be a good start. If you feel this person accepts culpability in creating your non-friend status, and you feel they would be a beneficial part of your life once more, let them take a step back in. Maybe a few splashes into the shallow end at first. But once they prove themselves, dive in and begin again.
I have made it a point not to hold people too heavy in my heart once the friendship breaks down and the bonds wash away. I remember the good times we had and thank them, if only in my mind, for what goodness they’ve brought into my life. From a beloved video game that seems to be the only thing that gets me off the couch and makes exercising fun, to a better understanding of my purpose in this world and beyond, friends may come and go but the lessons live on. A truce can be reached with anyone if I decide it is better to live my life in peace, not in strife.
Being kind to people who are not your friends is a skill that can be learned over numerous experiences. Practice these patterns and gather more steam as you go. The more you do it, the less people you will have on your “list” and the more people you may actually be able to call “friend.”