Kind promise: I will be tender with weaknesses.

tender-kind“When it comes to the crusty behavior of some people, give them the benefit of the doubt. They may be drowning right before your eyes, but you can’t see it. And you’d never ask someone to drown with a smile on his face.”

― Richelle E. GoodrichSmile Anyway: Quotes, Verse, & Grumblings for Every Day of the Y

What a big promise this is! By weaknesses I mean any time we dont get what we want. (I hear the Rolling Stones in my head.)

This morning I am thinking particularly about times when other people disappoint me. In my world, people are pretty much doing the best they can. As I gazed out on the beautiful green park across the street, I thought about lawbreakers (too much cop show TV) and people who really annoy me. Even they, I think, are doing the best that they can.

This promise invites me to be tender with them. I want to try to understand things from their point of view. I realize this is entirely impossible. I dont know where people come from, what theyve experienced or how they think and feel. Most times, though, they didnt set out to disappoint or annoy me.

When I am on my best behavior, I take responsibility for processing and communicating my own emotions.

By processing, I mean watch emotions arise and dissipate without getting attached to them. The stories I might begin to tell myself about whats behind these feelings are not The Truth. There is no need to express emotions by screaming into a pillow or writing trash in my journal. I experimented with those approaches earlier in my life. They didnt serve me well (although they were probably better than some other choices I could have made.) Nowadays, I practice noninterference as my thoughts, brain chemistry and hormones do their dance.

If I want to (or have to) be in relationship with the other person, then I want to say how Im feeling and how Id like their behavior to be different. If this is someone I will never see again, I dont need to say or do anything. As people respond to me, I want to return to an intention of being kind.

As with everything, this is a practice: I want to set my intention, respond in love, forgive myself and others when we mess up, and return to my intention. I will be tender with weaknesses.