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IS KINDNESS OVERRATED? – guest post by Frank Daley

on 12/05/2015

The Kindness blog posts have insoired many people from different areas of life to approach me and send their contributions, each taking their own view at things. Today I welcome Frank Daley, who talks about selfless friendship kindness, and too much of it. Read more about his work below his post.

By Frank Daley

When a surfeit of “kindness” hurts the self.


Evidence confirms that the quality of Kindness is underrated and underrepresented in our daily lives.
In general.
But in one specific application, kindness it is overrated by people who believe it is their greatest virtue.
I’m thinking of those young girls and women (it’s more women than men in my experience) who say that their very best quality is “being a great friend.”
You would say this is a great quality and so do I but sometimes it is carried to extremes.  When some young people explain their feelings further they indicate that are harming their already low self-esteem.
Let me explain.
For many years I was a college and university professor.
Some of my work involved teaching personal development and college success strategies to students who were either in first year or pre-college programs. Most lacked adequate academic qualifications, study skills, literacy suitable for college work and self-confidence.
Secrets of Student Success, my course, was designed to help them learn about themselves and improve their self-image and their attitude to education.
I had faith in them and tried to show them that they could succeed in becoming self-directed, successful students.
As part of confidence-building, I’d ask them to tell me what they felt were their best personal qualities so we could apply them to academic life.
Many of the female students said their best quality (sometimes their only quality) was being a ”great friend.”
They were very specific about this and said things such as “I would do anything for my friends.” “I am always there for them.” ”Whenever they need me, day or night I am there.” “It doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I drop it if a friend is in trouble. “ 
This demonstrates the perfectly valid quality of kindness until we contrasted it with their grades and their academic intentions in college.
Most wanted to be nurses or work in other health science fields.
I asked them to tell me their grade average. It was Ds and Cs at best. I explained that the nursing faulty would reject anyone with an average less than B. They had never been B students.
Then I asked them why they constantly rushed to aid friends when they needed to concentrate on their own problems, studying, getting good grades and learning. They admitted that idea had never occurred to them—they said those were two “different things.” Many were emotionally distraught at first.
They had low self–esteem, valuing friends’ problems over their own.
They felt their friends were more import than they were and that’s why they rushed to their aid at the expense of their own needs.
There are other factors at play here, of course, including the natural desire to be liked and accepted, but the main result of their thoughts and actions was self-abnegation.
Kindness was over-valued in their eyes and they didn’t see its opposite: they acted as if they were less valuable, less worthy of time, work and energy, than their friends.
This betrayed a lack of self-worth, and that contributed to a lack of self-confidence. I suggested that if this continued it would destroy any hopes they had for a good education.
Most reluctantly (at first, but soon, enthusiastically) agreed that they had to think of themselves first. Not to abandon their friends, but to put the whole question into perspective.
“No greater love…” Yes, except the love of yourself must come before the love of your friends.
Kindness is a virtue the world needs, but not in this misguided way.
In this sense, wrong-headed thinking about kindness damages, the self.

Frank Daley

About the guest author (provided kindly by himself):


I am the founder of Self-Knowledge College.
I help people know themselves so they can make better decisions for themselves personally and professionally.
Core Book: Who Are You and What Are You Doing Here? The way to know yourself and get what you want.   (Available only from me at this time. Amazon edition coming.)
My site for at-risk students and their worried parents, Dropout to Dean’s List.
Blog, The Daley Post.
Kindle books:
What’s Your Problem? No, really, what IS your problem? The Sherlock Holmes Guide to Problem Identification; How to Know Yourself: 4 Steps to Self-awareness
How to Stop Dating Losers and Find a Good man (or Woman)!
The Secrets of Success Through Self-Knowledge (Through SKC site)
The Secrets of Student Success Through Self-Knowledge (through DDL site)
Contact: Facebook – Frank Daley; Twitter – @TheFrankDaley; LinkedIn – Frank Daley


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