Cruel to be Kind

Self Awareness is the greatest kindness. - Leonardo da Walker

Would you bath a cat? Would you feed a dog chocolate? Would you bring a dolphin home to your house? Would you cage an eagle? The answer is no because you are too kind.

But you would feed yourself poison. You would drink too much alcohol or coke. You would go out in the sun and cause yourself skin cancer. You would go days without a poo. You would put yourself in a place that's not you. You'd even stay in a relationship that was abusive. It's strange how, at the simplest of levels we would treat an animal with kindness and yet, ourselves, we'd not.

Not be kind to ourselves? Why?

  1. We think kind is satisfying our appetite for pleasure at any cost
  2. We need satisfaction instantaneously and will grab anything to achieve it
  3. We don't know ourselves

I can't deal with the first two here. Ignorance is bliss. But when they are sorted one usually turns to #3. Know thyself....

Know Thyself and Why It's So Hard to Get it Right

  1. Environment changes a person. At work we may be enthusiastic tiger while at home we can turn into a sloth. At sport training we might be a super-hero while at the restaurant with the in-laws, we might be reactive and sensitive. Environment changes a person and so knowing yourself becomes a bit of a problem. You are one person at work, another at home. So, which self do you want to get to know?
  2. Stress changes a person. Sitting on a cushion meditating about how good you are, or how much you'd love the American Elections to be over, you are one person. Sitting behind the wheel of your car driving to the airport to catch the last flight home in a snow storm and stuck in traffic... you might just be someone else. Stress changes people.
  3. Feedback changes a person. When you're in a race of some sort, like hitting your annual budget and everything is going swimmingly, you're one person, positive, strong, open minded, resilient, kind, friendly, self-respecting. But, when a competitor swoops in and steals your thunder, you slip behind budget, your annual bonus goes out the window and your boss is a total arse about it, you become disgruntled and angry, unfriendly, weak, emotional, closed minded, depressed, and worst of all, self-deprecating. Feedback changes people.
  4. The future changes a person. You're happy in your relationship, you're dreaming of freedom but you're safely entrenched in an average relationship with someone you unconditionally love (or so you think) that allows you to sort of map the future. You feel confident that your destiny is assured and you could adapt to change to create a wonderful life for many years ahead. Then, they leave. Suddenly you change. Disgruntled, hateful, judgemental, your love is a pain in the heart, they are happy to be having a gorgeous fling with their new love and you, like a shag on a rock, wonder whether it's worth going on... you contemplate how you could end it all and make it look like an accident. You are not the same person, the future changes people.
  5. You join a community, a tribe of like minded people. A meditation group, a yoga class, an entrepreneurial business, a clean up the mess group, save the whale group, run club, church. You might go to self-help training with a Buddhist person or a motivational speaker or a "truth telling evangelist." You become what you think and suddenly your thinking is so cool. But then six months into it, a marketing brochure comes to your instagram posts selling a mind-control seminar or a new meditation course, you drop your tribe, or add another one. You become different. What you think, who you think it with, and how satisfied you are (infatuated) with your tribe, becomes you. You are not the same person. What you think and who you think it with changes you.


Kindness given to others is one kindness, but if this means being cruel to yourself, maybe it's not the real meaning of kindness.

So, what is all the confusion about self? Who are we really and how do we be kind to that Self? - Leonardo da Walker

So, what is all the confusion about self. Who are we really and how do we be kind to that Self?

As a man (or woman) thinketh so shall he (or she) be - James Allen 1903

There are seven areas of life. As a man (or woman) thinketh, in each area of life, so shall he or she be. So, mindset in career won't cut it in relationship will it? If your relationship is built on the same principles as career success, yr in the poop. It's just not reasonable. (More about mindsets later.)

So the way the "as a man (or woman) thinketh philosophy brings all these disparate areas of life together into one central theme is to turn inward to intrinsic mindsets to try to convey a sub-current that sits beneath all seven areas. But this falls into another trap... morals and ethics.

A drunk staggers down the street (hey, I live in Bondi it could also be drugs) staggering from side to side. They bang into parked cars and hit shop windows. They stagger down the channel between parked cars and glass shop front occasionally hitting the footpath. Amazingly they get home, eventually. What could have taken 5 minutes from pub to home takes an hour. And this is the perfect result of morals and ethics as guide posts to life.

What is wrong with the image you see above? Well, either the rock on the left is made of a different material to those on the right, or someone is drawing an optical illusion. More rocks on one side do not balance less on the other. But with morals and ethics there is a suggestion that good can be without drawback, and that bad has no benefit. This is the overwhelming challenge of the world we live in, one sided righteousness. There is a meme driving throughout the world that if I be good, I am therefore not also bad. If I be kind I am therefore not also cruel. It has penetrated yoga schools, environmentalists, religious extremism and most alarmingly mental health, corporate training and self-help throughout the world. it's a poison and the mass are drinking it faster than gatorade laced with dioxin.


Kindness begins at home, with yourself but there's a catch. Your body and mind are addicted to endorphins and dopamines which means, in simple terms, pleasure and happiness. Anything you perceive as being dopamine or endorphin generating will be labelled as "great" and anything that doesn't produce those two will be labelled as aweful, boring, horrible, unfriendly, disgusting, unpleasant. BUT

Sometimes things that don't produce endorphins in the short term, or dopamine in the moment are actually good for us. Like cleaning your teeth, eating broccoli, not eating ice-cream etc. Hence, kindness to self is not always pleasure to self or happy to self. And this produces a battle ground.

One part of us wants dopamine and will just about kill to get it. The other part wants results, health, relationships that last, success in business, approval, wealth and friends, most of which don't come from instantaneous dopamine hits over a long time. Our habits are a mix of things that make dopamine and endorphin rushes. And much of that rush comes through perception. I can see a dentist as a relief from pain and therefore want to be there.

Habits are mental short cuts. Pavlov pointed it our with dogs salivating. (Google it if you're too young) but in short, the mind links dopamine with some pretty crazy stuff. Even self sabotage can produce an endorphin rush if there's an association that's been created.

Hence, kindness is a pretty abused word especially when we link anything to the word "REWARD." If I reward myself for anything, I am almost forgiven for doing stupid, toxic, and unhealthy things to myself because I've linked them to a reward. I've created reward and punishment scenarios. Like the person who rewards themselves for a hard week at work with a night on the town, really, is a hard week worthy of reward? No. But that's how we think and justify short term endorphin rush.

Kindness is not reward. Kindness is not pleasure. Kindness is discipline.. - Leonardo da Walker

Kindness is not reward. Kindness is not pleasure. Kindness is discipline. Kind enough to stop yourself from doing short term things that will mess you up long term.

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