The difference was that the movie painted kindness, not only as a virtue, but also as a strength. In fact it’s a theme throughout the movie, “Have courage and be kind.” And yet it’s a theme that isn’t poplar in our media or our culture. Instead, kindness is usually depicted as weakness.
In our culture, those with the witty, cutting joke, or the manager who gets ahead despite an abuse of power, are seen as superior. Yet, while kindness can make one vulnerable, there is also a great strength in that.
For the past 12 years, Dr. Brené Brown has studied vulnerability, worthiness, shame and courage as a professor at the University of Houston's Graduate College of Social Work. She writes, “Vulnerability is not weakness...the level to which we protect ourselves from being vulnerable is a measure of our fear and disconnection.”
Consider the last time few times you felt hurt by someone. Did you fight back (argue), did you flee (avoid or dismiss) or did you express compassion? Which experience gave you the greatest sense of strength? By allowing ourselves to be vulnerable enough to stand up for ourselves and to be kind and compassionate, we are allowing for an authentic connection not only with others, but also with ourselves.
Dr. Brown also writes, “when we work from a place, that says, ‘I'm enough,’ we're kinder and gentler to the people around us, and we're kinder and gentler to ourselves.” In other words, it takes courage to be our authentic selves, and to believe that we are worthy, ashes and all.
So in fact, in this version of this classic tale, Cinderella is not rescued by a prince, but instead rescues herself by persevering through adversity, exhibiting a great deal of grit to remain true to herself, and to remain kind. There is not only courage, but also a great deal of strength in that.
Our challenge then becomes helping our kids to see this model of courage as the braver and stronger choice over being cruel to get what they want. How? By modeling our own choices to be kind, by guiding what they watch and read, and by pointing out and savoring those little kindnesses that happen everyday.
To hear Brené Brown’s Ted talk go to: Brene Brown "The Power of Vulnerability"