It’s commonly believed that an eye for an eye is the best policy—stand your ground, hold your own, fight back. Certainly, assertiveness is an admirable trait because being too passive might make you a doormat that others will walk all over. Being assertive or speaking your opinion does not have to equate to being mean; there are ways to stand up for yourself while remaining polite, compassionate, and thoughtful. Sometimes the best way to give someone what they deserve is to give them the exact opposite: fight all your battles with kindness.
1. Kindness, though typically considered to be a weakness, is actually a strength.
It is much more challenging to hold your tongue and speak positively toward others, especially those who have wronged you or mistreated you. Being kind is more challenging and more honorable.
2. Everyone has their own demons and is fighting their own fight.
You don’t always know why they have been mean to you or why they have said or done certain things. Assumptions made about others can be false—and most of the time they are. Be cognizant of the fact that each person you meet could be struggling in his or her own way and being kind might remind them that they, too, should be kind.
3. The perpetuation of anger is everlasting.
Once someone has been mean to you, it is easy to harbor your anger, hurt, and frustration inside of you. That can sometimes be displaced onto others if not disposed properly. Fighting fire with fire just makes larger flames—sometimes, they even become impossible to put out.
4. Maybe the person to whom you’re speaking simply needs kindness to make their day better.
Or change their outlook. Being kind can be a way to positively alter someone’s cloudy mood. Though you may not always see the impact of your kindness, it still exists and it still matters.
5. It feels good.
No, it’s not easy all the time. But it will improve your own mood, too, if you remember that instead of tearing someone down to be on your level, you’ve lifted the two of you up with kind words or gestures.
6. It’s the right thing to do.
While being kind sometimes feels as though you are allowing meanness to go unnoticed or unchecked, it does not mean you’re allowing others to walk all over you. You are simply rising above in a different way.
7. The way you act is a reflection on yourself.
Your words or actions can last forever on others. Sometimes it doesn’t feel permanent to you, but to the other person, it could be everlasting.
8. It will make others happy and it will make you happy.
Maybe not right away, especially when the tip of your tongue is holding itself back from spewing your true feelings. But afterwards, you’ll be glad you didn’t say something you can’t take back and you’ll be glad you offered kindness instead of unnecessary meanness.
9. Being mean doesn’t solve anything.
So being nice can’t hurt either. Even if nothing is solved, at least you know you didn’t make it worse.