We’ve all heard this phrase. Don’t mistake my kindness for weakness.
But why would someone mistake one trait for the other?
Do you consider yourself a kind and compassionate person? It’s one of the top characteristics that most people want others to say about them. However, some misguided individuals may perceive your generous personality as an indication of weakness, but nothing could be further from the truth.
The root word “kind” is coming from the same Old English word as kin and kindred. It means familiarity and similarities. In later years, the word also became linked with compassion and doing selfless good deeds for others.
Most cultures and religious traditions have their version of the “golden” rule. It’s a guiding principle that encourages people to treat others the same way they expect to be treated. This stellar virtue is meant to cultivate equality and your inevitable link with other people, nature, and the universe.
Is Compassion an Inherent Trait?
Is your brain hardwired to be a compassionate person, or is it something you learned from childhood and your environment? It’s a pressing question that psychologists have deliberated for years. You may be surprised to find that it might be both.
According to an article published by The Association for Psychological Science, compassion may be encoded into the genetics of humans and animals. Going beyond morality, it may be an integral tool for survival. Helping others compassionately is often done automatically without expecting a reward, per the article.
Of course, parents train their children from infancy how to use their inner compassion. When your parents and other adults taught you the importance of caring for other people, they viewed this virtue as a strength. Selfishness and disregard for others was a discouraged character flaw.
Is Compassion a Sign of Weakness?
Somehow within the evolution of humans, male bodies were often bigger and stronger. They took the natural role of protector/provider for their mate and offspring. Among the pitfalls and unknown dangers in the primordial world, compassion wasn’t always the key to survival.
It stands to reason that since men inherited the guardian role, they were socialized to be first, fierce, and fearless. Anything else was weak, cowardly, and unacceptable.
According to a study published by Frontiers in Psychology, women are more apt to be compassionate than men. The study states that it could be that our social norms still view women as emotional gender while men are expected to be stoic.
It takes strong people to be gentle with others. Conversely, nothing is as gentle as true strength. People who keep their power in check can be the most caring souls in the world.
So, why do some people feel that being compassionate means they are small and vulnerable? Maybe for some, it’s a pride issue. They don’t want other people in their circle to assume they are too “soft.”
Infants are totally dependent on their parents and caregivers for every need. At this point, their body only functions by instinct. One of the first things they learn is that when their hungry belly rumbles and they cry, the big person will instantly give milk or other food to fill sustain their need.
When the newborn feels tired, irritated, scared, or just bored, the smallest whimper will bring the same gentle arms to snuggle them. For these little ones, the universe only consists of them and the big people who meet their needs. Unfortunately, some adults still are in that mode of thinking.
Roots of Compassionate Thinking and Actions
From about age two through preschool age, youngsters are eagerly exploring their world and quickly realizing that other little people have needs. According to an article published by Zero to Three, most children learn a bit about compassion at age three.
Now, these children have moved beyond the concepts of I, me, and mine as they relate to other children and adults. It’s the patient parents, caregivers, and teachers who work with the children and teach them the value of being kind and empathetic. It’s a valuable lesson that will take the little ones into adulthood.
Reasons Why Showing Kindness Doesn’t Equal Weakness
If most children are trained to be compassionate to other people, animals, and themselves, why do they often meet such resistance as adults? How can social morals dictate that people consider others’ feelings while simultaneously labeling them as a shortcoming? Here are numerous reasons that the compassion you show doesn’t make you wimpy.
1. It’s Tough to Be Compassionate
Being harsh and critical with others, or even with yourself, isn’t taking the easy path. Anybody can be a bully and push people around, especially those who are subjective to authority. It’s practically effortless to make a flippant or unkind comment to someone you don’t know or who has made you angry.
The true test of character is to grit your teeth and say nothing to people who’ve insulted or hurt you. This certainly doesn’t mean you allow people to run over you like a doormat. Taking the high road and being compassionate to an adversary takes incredible strength and confidence.
When you show kindness to others, you’re not showing weakness, but you’re setting an example of how you want to be treated. If you show compassion to others, then you expect the same behavior in return. You’re giving an example for others to follow.
The person who is going out of their way to be kind is a trailblazer in a cruel and often unkind world. You’re simply a model for others to follow. If you help an older person with their groceries at the supermarket, your children and others around you will take notice.
3. What Goes Around Comes Around
Karma is either a gift or a curse from the universe for things you’ve done in your life. If you do good things to others, then good things will come back to you. However, if you’re bad and live an unscrupulous life, then karma will make sure that those terrible things are repaid to you.
When you are kind to others, you’re not showing weakness. Rather, you’re putting deposits into the bank of karma to withdrawal later. If you plant green beans in your garden in the springtime, then green beans are what you will harvest in the fall.
Karma works much like planting seeds into the earth. Whatever you sow is what you will harvest, so be careful what you plant. The key is to do the right thing when no one else is watching because even if your neighbor or relative doesn’t see your good deed, the universe does.
4. It’s Not Always The Easiest Route
Some folks would say that being kind is easy, but nothing could be further from the truth. How many times have you wanted to lose your cool, tell someone off, or give an individual a piece of your mind? It takes real strength to stand up and be nice even when you have every right to be mean.
Let’s assume you’re in the grocery store and someone cuts ahead of you going to the checkout line. You’re late for work, and your time is just as valuable as theirs. By all rights, you can and should say something to this person. However, you choose to take the high road and ignore their rude move.
Later, you can help them when a roll of paper towels falls off the conveyer belt onto the floor. You pick them up, and you give the lady the biggest smile ever. Now, you didn’t have to help her out as she was obviously rude to you, but you realize that it wasn’t a personal move on her part.
Choosing the high road feels good on the inside whether or not others appreciate your act. It certainly doesn’t show your weakness, but it shows how incredibly strong you are as a human being.
5. You Have A Positive Impact On The World
Remember back to the last time you told someone off? How did you feel after you were done? When you give someone a piece of your mind, does it ruin your whole day? If you’re like the average person, then any altercation that causes you to get this upset will undoubtedly affect you.
Now, remember the last time you did a random act of kindness for someone to be nice. How did that act make you feel? The world is filled with positive and negative things, and when you choose what you will engage in, it adds to the culture.
If you randomly pay for the dinner of the person ahead of you, smile at someone who looks sad or put your arm around a person who is crying, then you are releasing positive energy in a world full of so much negativity. It’s easy to mummer and complains when everything in your life is going wrong, but it’s so hard to go against the grain.
Being nice with no ulterior motive makes you feel good. If you want to start feeling better and having a better outlook on life, then doing things that enhance the power of positivity is a good place to start.