We as HSPs are genuine by nature. Authenticity arises from the conscientious component in our makeup. We strive to be completely honest in our feelings and the expression of those feelings to the outer world. We have defined values and beliefs, and we support those in our actions. We are not happy unless we are living our true selves.
Kindness is a close cousin of genuineness. The two often combine to form a welcoming demeanor. People who express friendliness, generosity, and consideration toward us are positive forces that reduce stress and anxiety, boost the immune system, and just plain make us feel good inside. But do you always have to be kind to be genuine?
This may seem like a strange question to contemplate but let me explain.
Authenticity is a yes-or-no state of being. Kindness is an act that arises either as the spontaneous output of a genuine state, or as a device for ill gain. The truth is kindness has two sides, each a direct opposite of the other. In its truest sense, it is a beautiful quality that can promote positive relationships. But it can also be faked. Used as a tool for manipulation or deceit. In those cases, kindness kills trust, hope, love, among many other desirable virtues.
If we are to be kind and genuine, we must always strive to keep the honest side forward. It might be argued that you should be kind, whether someone is kind to you or not. In this way you put your best foot forward. I disagree. If we are kind when we don’t mean it, we further the falsehood. In this case, kindness should not be confused with civility. It is important to remain civil to others, refraining from harsh treatment or violence, but you can be cordial while keeping your integrity intact. Assertive congeniality in action.
Unfortunately, there are vultures out there – Dr. Judith Orloff calls them Energy Vampires – who are more than ready to take advantage of our large capacity for empathy. When we encounter those Energy Vampires, we must stand our ground, keep integrity foremost, and pull back on our impulsive kindness. Reserve it for the more deserving people we encounter.
So, my answer to this question is no, we don’t have to always be kind to be genuine. In fact, it is in this authenticity that we find and put forward true kindness when it is appropriate. But there are also times when we must replace our first-line kindness with a guarded cordiality. We often find it hard as an HSP to stand up for ourselves, but necessary.
For more on this subject, see Kindness Gone Wrong.
Copyright 2021, Monica Nelson