After just a year’s worth of visits, my good ol’ therapist recently decided to leave me to go work somewhere else that my insurance conveniently doesn’t cover. I mean, it’s totally okay because I wasn’t fond of the hour-long drives to Arcadia for 45 minute appointments, and then being stuck in hour-and-a-half-long traffic to get back. But still, I wanted to be the one to break it off, y’know?
At the end of my last appointment, she had me list three things that I thought described myself. I said something along lines of “determined,” “thoughtful,” and “likes cats way too much for my own good.” she chimed in, and said that the word she thought described me was “kind” or I like to call it, “not a dick.”
And with that one word, for the first time in a year, I was on the verge of crying on that big, fluffy couch that absorbs negative feelings into its cushions. After a year of me complaining about hating drinking and poker, and not feeling wanted or understood, she thought that above all else, I emanated kindness. That killed me.
The truth is, I try hard to be kind. I want to make people feel good, and want them to do the same for each other. Bee knows this first-hand, as I’m sure he remembers each time I’ve given him the silent treatment before berating him for getting mad at slow pedestrians on the sidewalk and making it obvious he’s fed up. It just didn’t occur to me that this was a recognizable trait.
So, naturally, I’m letting it go straight to my head and offering life tips to all who will listen. If you want to be like me, here are three areas in your daily life in which to be kind, so you can somehow convince your therapist that you are a caring person, and not an anxious, alcohol-hating dick:
1. Friends and family
It’s easy to take loved ones for granted, especially if you see them fairly often and kind of get annoyed when they ask about your non-existent career or talk about their very-existent careers and how they can afford to get their car washed regularly.
It’s also just as easy to send a text asking to hang out and (a little bit less easy, but still doable) to actually follow through. Or to ask your grandparents if they need anything at the grocery store if you’re going to make a trip, granted they live close by and don’t have expensive taste in caviar. Or give genuine compliments that go beyond heart-eyes emojis on Instagram pictures.
I see friends sharing those Facebook posts all the time about people who buy coffee for the people in back of them in line or give new shoes to the homeless. These are all amazing. But I think kindness can work on a smaller scale, as well.
If you need to get around a car going slower, get around them, but don’t try to make it obvious that you think they’re going super fucking slow and are an abomination to society. Overtip waiters and waitresses, even if you had to wait an extra two minutes to get your water with a hint of lemon refilled for the third time, especially if it’s busy. Smile at someone who’s struggling to juggle a Starbucks order and a box of donuts, and offer to help (even though they’ll probably refuse because you look like a donut thief). Little things like this can really make peoples’ days just a little bit sweeter.
I know it can be difficult to resist the urge to not roll your eyes and very closely cut in front of the two bicyclists taking up a whole lane. Before acting out of frustration or anger, I say to myself, “you never know what someone’s going through or what could make or break their day.” If that’s still hard for you, it also helps to think “is this something a dick would do?” And if it is, then don’t do it. Easy enough.
*Note: Sometimes no matter how kind you are, people will still be assholes, but don’t let that deter you. I once held a door open for a lady with kids and a stroller at the Coffee Bean at The Grove, and she pushed past me and said “damn” like I was in her way.
This one’s hard for me. I don’t like to do things for myself because I think it’s a waste of time and/or money that could better be spent on something absolutely necessary for someone else. The thing is, treating ourselves with kindness is also absolutely necessary.
Sometimes that can mean getting yourself ice cream when you want it, even though you have plenty of other healthy food– and also a half-eaten frozen cheesecake– at home that’s free. Sometimes it can mean buying that floral print shirt you’re holding in your right hand, even though you “better not” because it’s $2 more than that ugly shirt you don’t even really want in your left hand. Sometimes it can mean going to the Goodwill bookstore and buying “A Brief History of Time” for $3. (Initially, my therapist said this didn’t count, but then realized that this was actually my idea of a Treat Yo’self Day, and rightfully retracted what she said)
If you’re not a dick to anyone else, why be a dick to yourself? You are people, too! It doesn’t matter that you don’t have that much money to spend–you can splurge on Chipotle once in a while instead of eating canned tuna for lunch and dinner. (This last paragraph was totally general and not referring to myself at all)
The point of all of this is not to earn the satisfaction of people thinking you’re an altruistic person who would never think about stealing a pen from work; it’s to make people (including yourself!) feel good. Though, to be honest, being recognized as a kind soul is a pretty good gift from someone who is abandoning me and referred me to transfer to the Jewish Family Services Center if I wanted to keep having a therapist.