What does "kindness" mean to you? - Eighteen Forty Four
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What does “kindness” mean to you?

What does “kindness” mean to you?

May 18-24th is Mental Health Awareness week and the theme for this year is “kindness”. Amidst all the horror, fear and uncertainty of the coronavirus pandemic, acts of kindness shine out like beacons of hope and humanity. Kindness is the glue that holds communities and societies together. It’s everything from donating to charities, clapping for carers, helping those who need it or reaching out to someone in need of a chat. It’s those simple acts that we can easily take for granted – making a cup of tea for someone, saving a loved one the last chocolate biscuit or giving a stranger a smile.

But kindness isn’t just about being kind to others, it’s also about being kind to ourselves. Now more than ever, when we are all under pressure, self-compassion is important. We cannot be truly kind and compassionate to others if we rule ourselves with an iron rod.

Take a moment to think about the little voice in your head. Is it your personal cheerleader or your biggest critic? Do you cut yourself some slack when you fall short of your own high standards or are you constantly telling yourself you should be doing better, doing more… being more. Do you judge yourself for falling short or look at how far you’ve come? Do you focus on what you haven’t done or acknowledge what you’ve accomplished and what you’ve learned?

As a society, we talk about self-compassion but deep down for many people it still feels really uncomfortable – it’s a bit fluffy and soft. It goes against everything we’re taught about how we succeed in life and get through adversity – we just need to give ourselves a good talking to and get on with it. But how does it feel with that constant judgement and criticism in your head? Would you inspire, motivate or comfort someone else with the words you use for yourself?

No, and this is why self-compassion is important. To perform better and to be more resilient, we need to give ourselves permission to make mistakes, to not be “on it” the whole time; to know that it’s okay to not be okay. That we are good enough.

Take a moment now to think of three things that make you the lovely person that you are, maybe things that your friends, families or colleagues always comment on or come to you for. Write them down and take a moment to acknowledge them. If you’ve got children, do this with them and maybe get them to write them somewhere they can see them and remind themselves how awesome they are.

This May, I’d invite you to join me on a kindness adventure. Let’s explore what it means and what a difference it can make and together, let’s make that difference – for ourselves and for others.

Keep safe, stay home, stay well.