Monday, February 24, 2014

When kindness is misunderstood


 I said that I wouldn't post until March 5, but I need to get this off my chest.
A society that venerates rewards, exchange of favors and money treats kindness with suspicion. Making a new friend here is tough. When I connect with a person in meaningful ways, I am kind to them. Then my attitude is treated with suspicion.
 All of a sudden the new "friend" believes I have secondary intentions of some kind. Who knows what those intentions are. The new friend stands back. Strangely enough, my parents taught me to be kind without expecting anything in return.
 Friendship is about spontaneity, affection and communication. Some people confuse spontaneity and kindness with the idea of a boundary getting trespassed. It may be a cultural mismatch, or a misunderstanding. The new "friend" is distrustful.
 I have finally come to the realization that it is safer to wear a shell and to stick to my old friends. The ones who love me and accept me the way I am.
 I am curious to know if you have encountered similar experiences.

28 comments:

  1. Julia
    It isn't your fault if a person is weird and paranoid about your friendship.That person has a "problem." Sometimes we have to wish certain people, well, but then have to toss them aside. It's self-preservation. My oldest son always says, if we fight with a friend, that person isn't really our friend. Boy, do I ever learn from my kids because as I think about it, it is sooo true. My friend Marilyn and I have been friends for over 50 years (talk on the phone nearly every day) and have never had a bad thought about the other. I call her my friend.
    Anyone can feel that you are a sincere person and I know all your bloggie friends can feel it too. Let it go and bask in the love of all of us who are your friends.
    I'm your friend. :)

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    1. Hi Manzanita. Thank you for your sweet comment.
      Yes, I know what you mean. I agree with your son, and I know what it means to have a friend like Marilyn. That is wonderful.

      Delete
  2. Hello Julia:

    So much of what you write here, as with your previous post, resonates with us. It is so strange that the hand of friendship should be treated with suspicion, as if there has to be some ulterior motive, but that is often the case. Indeed we have often felt that kindness is seen as weakness.

    Perhaps in part some of this may be accounted for in the ways in which society has and is changing. Certainly in Britain during the Thatcher years the emphasis was on self; we now appear to be reaping what was sown. We find it wholly regrettable and not a little disturbing.

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    1. Jane and Lance: "Kindness is seen as weakness." I never thought about that. Your comment helps me to understand many peoples' behaviors now. Kindness should be considered a sign of strength.
      I appreciate your thought-provoking comment and I'm thankful that you found my blog.

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  3. Oh, dear! I fear my response is not very profound. I am not sure I like the idea of a "shell," as you mentioned. Of course, that does give us a sort of protection, but I like the idea of being able to be one's self.

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    1. The irony is that the shell serves the purpose of being true to myself. I don't wear a shell when I interact with true friends.

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  4. I say, just continue to be your friendly self and don't allow anyone to cause you to wear a shell. The issue is not you but with the person who is behaving oddly. Maybe that person has had previous problems with people acting friendly towards them, then suddenly changing. So when you show kindness, they automatically think you want something in return. In time, they will find out exactly who you are and you're only interested in their friendship and nothing else. But, have patience with them and if you really feel it's not working out, move on.

    Continue to show your love and kindness to people Julia. Have a great week.

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    1. Thanks. I am the same person, yes.
      The point of the post is to acknowledge that there is something wrong when kindness is treated with suspicion.
      I follow my heart and my intuition. Letting go is the healthy thing to do.

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  5. I agree with you Julia. Even I prefer sticking to my old friends and trying to seek the shelter of a shell.

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    1. Yes, the shell is a shelter. I agree.
      We need to protect our mental health.

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  6. Hi Julia - "kindness as weakness" - interesting thought. As I'm a very independent person I tend to go with what works ... and if not, then I can easily walk away.

    Sadly I don't think people think too much, their depth of humanity is quite shallow ... something I learnt only relatively recently (last 10 years or so) ... we have opinions, and we don't look on the other side, or take the ideas expressed by others as a possibility, or look at the place from where the problem arose ... they may well be in a worse situation and not able to see out ...... whether by lacking thought, or just simply that's the way they are, or they are in a worse place with many things that are problems that we can't see ...

    I'd just move on, but continue being who you are = true to yourself. With many thoughts - Hilary

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    1. Thanks, Hilary.
      As you know, I have a very independent mindset. I am not needy. I love my solitude. I also love my friends. My true friends. But I am not needy at all.
      I just wanted to point out that I have noticed a social trend: kindness is treated with suspicion. It is real.
      And somebody told me that she can't make new friends here. So this is real.

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    2. And the paradox is that I attract people because I am a good listener. But the problem starts when I allow myself to be their friend. So, yes, it is better to stick to my old friends.

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  7. Hi Julia, you've always been friendly and kind. Sometimes though, people take things the wrong way. Hopefully it was a misunderstanding, and you can move on. Keep being yourself. That's why you're so creative:)))

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    1. Thanks, Susan.
      I am myself, but I need to protect my mental health.

      Delete
  8. I think it's probably best to just keep being yourself. The people who can't accept your friendship because they're suspicious of your kindness were probably never going to be good friends anyway.

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  9. Hi Julia,

    Sadly, my friend, I've had several experiences similar to the one you allude to. There are those who will always treat kindness with suspicion. They assume that kindness has a hidden agenda. This is more a reflection on themselves than on you, Julia. Kindness is just the way you are and I know you don't look for reciprocation as such.

    People like that are often insecure about how things are in their life. You mean well. The most important thing is that you take care of your own mental health well being.

    Your friend, with respect and kindness,

    Gary

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    1. Yes, your words are full of wisdom, my friend.
      Thank you for your support.
      It means a lot to me.

      Delete
  10. You are so right! I don't know what it is, but people are distrustful and not willing to engage in a new friendship. Is it the FaceBook generation?

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  11. So very true! I don't know what it is or why, but people are distrustful of kindness of open conversation. Is it the FaceBook generation, which are "friended" by complete strangers.
    Nice to meet you

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    1. Thanks, Susan.
      The way I see it most people behave like automatons. They are not spontaneous. As Hilary said, their understanding of humanity is shallow.
      I believe it happens because the system treats us like numbers, not like unique human beings. We are numbers.

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  12. People who are suspicious of your friendliness have probably been burned a time or two by friends, and are fearful of being hurt again. They build a wall around themselves. I wouldn't necessarily stop trying to be a friendly person because of the few who are fearful of friendship. Friendship happens or it doesn't, Just be yourself and know that not everyone is going to return your friendship, but when they do, enjoy it for what it is.

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    1. Richard, I never said I am going to change who I am. I said I will wear my shell to hide my true self.
      I have seen this trend in people that I allowed myself to befriend, so I will stay away from such people and I will stick to my old friends.
      I follow my heart.

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    2. I mean the trend to treat kindness with suspicion. I am not like them because I preserve my human qualities. I value friendship, spontaneous behaviors and communication. If I have a problem with somebody I communicate the problem. This is something that people around me are not willing to do. Then I am not willing to be their friend anymore because TRUE friendship requires trust.

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  13. Julia, I am so sorry that person misunderstood your gesture of kindness and friendship, and I’m sure that person’s reaction of thinking you had secondary intentions must have been hurtful. Being kind without expecting anything in return is what I learned as a child too. My father always said that kindness is its own reward. Sadly, some people are just suspicious by nature and they don’t make very good friends, because to really be a friend to someone else, you need to be open and accepting.

    I can relate because it has happened to me too. One example is that for two decades I’ve tried to be kind to someone on my husband’s side of the family who is jealous and suspicious of all my attempts to be kind and friendly. Despite that, I’ve always been kind to that person because that’s just how I am. I know what you mean about wearing a shell to hide your true self. I found that approach worked with this particular individual, because since she’s family, I can’t ignore her, but the less I reveal about myself to her, the better it is; that way, I can still be kind and friendly but with a little more distance. As far as friends, I have had friends in the past who were wary of my naturally friendly nature. It’s really difficult to maintain a friendship when people are wary and closed. I also think social media plays a big part in the way people view each other in the world today. You are a warm, kind and friendly person and anyone would be lucky to have you as a friend! And I am glad you are my friend!

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    1. Thank you for your sweet comment. I'm also happy and thankful for our friendship.
      What you describe here happened to me with other people. You describe it perfectly well. I could have written this myself!

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I appreciate each and every comment. Thank you.