Like many of us, I grew up in a culture that placed people-pleasing and peace-keeping high above truth-telling. What an interesting paradox to be told as a child that lying is unacceptable, even immoral, only to quickly find out that honesty can get you into a world of hurt. We’re told to be nice, a word that gets slippery in the subtext. Kindness is a word connected to treating others with a high level of dignity and respect, where we lead with our hearts even when we have difficult truths that need to be shared. Being nice, however, is often code for “Ignore your feelings and perceptions and don’t make trouble!” A friend of mine told me that rocking the boat was the ultimate sin in her family. “My mama might as well have said, ‘Better to let the shark eat you than make any damn waves!’” she’d say laughing at the insanity of it.
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