How I learned to tolerate kindness


“Be the reason someone believes in the goodness of people.” – Karen Salmansohn

I realized today that I like it when people are kind to me.

That sounds weird, right? But, I used to be scared of people being kind to me. Partly because it gave me complicated feelings that I didn’t want to deal with, and partly because it felt so alien and strange. I avoided “overly kind” people for a long time. When people were really kind to me I wanted to run away and hide to avoid breaking down crying.

I gravitated towards people who were more critical or at least kind of emotionally walled off. They felt more familiar and safer.

Somewhere along the way in recovery I made some really kind, supportive friends. I responded to a person on Reddit looking for friends, something I normally wouldn’t do. But that day I just felt like replying, so I did. That person turned out to be an amazingly supportive friend. I also joined a guild for an online game I play, and they turned out to be some of the most amazingly supportive people I’ve ever met. Wasn’t expecting that. I had to really push myself to join the guild though! I agonized over it for months. I knew I wanted to join one but I was scared and I thought I “wasn’t good with people”. I was wrong, I am actually good with kind people – it’s jerks that I’m not good with!

It was really, really hard to accept their kindness. But I practiced and I got better at it. Spending time with these people made the contrast of my IRL “friends” stand out more – many of them were really not great friends at all. Not supportive or accepting of me as I am. The pandemic made it pretty easy to ghost a lot of them, so I did. They weren’t all bad though – I’ve kept several good ones.

So, back to today. I realized I like it when people are kind to me. I don’t have the tolerance for jerks anymore. I just can’t be bothered with them now. Life is too short to put up with those kinds of people – I’ve done more than enough of my fair share of that already.

Getting to the point of being able to tolerate kindness was hard, and involved a LOT of crying. I had to grieve just how badly people who were supposed to protect me, failed to do so, and actually hurt me instead, to the point where I thought being hurt was just a normal thing to expect from people.

I would guess that there are probably already kind people in your life that you might not know how to deal with. If they offer some small kindness, try accepting it and see what happens. In most cases, with most people, it’s not actually a trap. Most people do indeed offer kindnesses of some kind without expecting something in return. Most people are not actually manipulative. Weird, right?

So if you have the option of being exposed to genuine kindness by genuinely good people in your life, and you’re feeling hesitant or scared about it – I totally understand. Ease into it gradually, little bits at a time. Process your feelings as you go.

You deserve kindness. ☺

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