I started to write this article on kindness following the tragic death of Caroline Flack back in February, when the hashtag #BeKind was trending on social media. How the world has changed since then. With Covid 19, kindness and compassion towards ourselves and others is the path for navigating our way through the fear that these unprecedented and uncertain times has fuelled.
In the current climate, my personal goal is to manage my own emotions as best I can and not to add to the virus of fear and anxiety by being conscious of what I’m putting out into the world. Since the crisis began, my intention has been to share positive, up-lifting quotes and good news stories on social media. A favourite quote of mine by Mother Teresa is ‘if everyone swept their own doorstep the whole world would be clean.’ When it comes to my mindset and emotions, I’m sweeping as hard and as frequently as I can!
In recent weeks, as we physically distance, social media has come into its own as a way to stay connected. But the echo chamber that is social media also has a dark side. Whether it’s through thoughtlessness, lack of empathy, a hunger to be validated, or simply personal pain and fear, staying quiet unless you’ve something nice to say seems alien to many, and not just the so-called trolls. Scrolling through comments on articles and tweets can dampen even the most positive person’s faith in humanity.
As humans, we all have our light and shadow sides. I know for sure that I’ve said unkind things and acted from a place of meanness or fear in the past. On those occasions my behaviour was the result of a perceived inner hurt. Whilst my ego may have relished a momentary victory in feeling superior, the real war I was fighting was with myself. On those occasions I always felt terrible afterwards and regretted my actions. I’d a recent tangible example of this when I ‘lost it’ with a builder who cut our broadband cable just as we were starting to work from home. Logically I know that anger is an attempt to make someone else feel guilty, but we are not always logical. Strong emotions, like anger, remind me of the Mark Twain quote ‘I’m drinking the poison in the hope it kills someone else.’
There is the thinking that only hurt people, hurt people. Those who demean others, and who perpetrate hate are attempting to off-load their self-loathing. It’s a futile way to try to feel better about themselves. Whilst I’ve been an advocate of self-compassion and self-care for years, it is only in recent times that I’ve realised that healthy self-compassion reduces our tendency to spew our inner pain and fear onto others. In other words, being kind to ourselves is a logical first step in being kinder to others.
We sort of knew prior to this current crisis that society would benefit from more tolerance, compassion, generosity of spirit and a willingness to give others the benefit of the doubt. Covid 19 has accelerated this. Small acts of kindness can make a big difference in all our lives. In recent weeks, I’ve witnessed enhanced neighbourliness, I’m having more conversations with friends and family, I’m listening more to myself and others. I’m practicing self-care , self-compassion and self-forgiveness and remembering to love that part of me that is scared and not perfect (and losing his temper with builders!)
So how do we bring a little more kindness into the world. It starts with the intention of doing just that. It also means being a little less wrapped up in ourselves. We know now more than ever that we are all in this together sharing a human experience. So for the next week, let’s make a point of making a phone call, sending a check-in email, offering a smile to a shopper you pass in an aisle, thanking the person at the checkout for doing their job and acknowledging how we are all doing our best.
What we put out comes back to us, but that is just a happy bi-product. Being kind is its own reward because we will feel better about ourselves. In fact, being kind reminds us of who we truly are – souls thirsting for positive human connection. And when this crisis ends how much richer those human connections will be.
I hope you enjoy this post and that it has given you cause to reflect on how you can bring a little more kindness into the world. If you would like to be able to stay up to date with all my new posts and information about me do sign up to the community below where you can receive my monthly newsletter and if you like to listen to podcasts do check out mine below.