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kindness, relationships

This just in: Being kind even when it’s not deserved

Image by Branden Harvey

Image by Branden Harvey

“What I regret most in my life are failures of kindness.” ~ George Saunders, Syracuse University commencement speech

The other day someone did something very unkind to me. It was a selfish, self-centered, and rude thing. And no matter how much I tried to express that his actions hurt me, he didn’t relent. He barely apologized, and even that was only after I pointed out that he hadn’t. (There’s nothing worse than apology that you have to ask for.)

Eventually I did the most remarkable thing, a thing that surprised me because I wasn’t so sure I was capable of it in this instance. I forgave him. Not in the sense of forgiving and forgetting. I’m blessed (cursed?) with a memory that doesn’t fade. Ever. But I let go of the anger I felt toward him. The hurt. The impulse to give him a piece of my mind, tell him just how I felt, and hurt him in the same way that he hurt me. I just stopped.

There is something freeing about letting go of these kinds of emotions and the person who incited them in us. All of sudden there is a wellspring of energy, love, and kindness that can be used for something (and someone else) better and more productive. I don’t condone his behavior and I don’t allow myself to be hurt in any way by him anymore. Complete and total disengagement gave me a way to take care of myself without causing harm to him.

George Saunders commencement speech really helped me see that this was the right path in this instance. Many people may disagree with this idea. They may consider this letting go without giving someone exactly what he deserved as a sign of weakness. I don’t. When we inflict pain of any kind on someone else, we are also harming ourselves and often at a far higher cost. That’s not a cost I am willing to pay, and it is a cost that I am certain that this person bears already. His life is lonely. He is unhappy, and that is punishment enough for anyone. I actually feel sorry for him though I also understand that his unhappiness is a choice that he made. It takes strength to walk away without retaliation of any kind. And honestly, I’ve got much better, brighter, happier ways to spend my energy. I’ve got work, good work, to do and good people in my life. That’s where and with whom I intend to put my efforts.


About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at and Instagram at


2 thoughts on “This just in: Being kind even when it’s not deserved

  1. So well said and well lived! Life is short and energy precious. I love how you established a healthy boundary with clarity, care for yourself and freedom from retaliation and bitterness.


    Posted by Jan Schaper | July 21, 2015, 8:50 am

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