For Mental Health Week 2020, the topic chosen by the Mental Health Foundation was Kindness. So let’s all take this time to learn how to be kind to ourselves and others because it benefits everyone, not just other people #KindnessMatters.
Before we get started, if you’re interested in what last year’s topic was, it was body image. If you’d like to read the post I created for that, you can do so by clicking here.
Kindness is an act of courage, an act of courage that matters. Kindness can change the life of one person, but it can also change the world. Kindness can bind us together like nothing else. It can bring us hope when there otherwise wasn’t any.
Delivering Kindness In A World That Never Taught You To Be Kind
I could have gone two ways with the abuse I suffered, and until I was properly broken, I could have ended up being the kind of person the person I am now would dislike. However, I’m a person that literally feels physical pain when I see someone else suffer both physically and mentally. Now all I want to do in life is to find ways to help people avoid the kind of suffering I went through (or any suffering in general), so they can live a better life than I do. That’s why I started writing this blog.
I’m still not perfect, far from it. My issues with forming and maintaining bonds due to my attachment issues and borderline personality disorder can make caring about others a complicated battle between being selfish and empathetic. But I’ll always fight that fight.
You don’t need to have been through a traumatic experience to see the world as lacking kindness. We all talk about and focus more on the negatives in life. Negative news sells. I can’t imagine what the news would look like if it only focused on the good, rather than the bad, in the world.
Let’s not forget the internet, where trolls come out to play to make everyone feel as bad as they do themselves. The amount of abuse some people can suffer, especially women, is staggering.
Although people of all genders can experience violence and abuse online, the abuse experienced by women is often sexist or misogynistic in nature, and online threats of violence against women are often sexualized and include specific references to women’s bodies
Kindness is a choice. We can choose to be kind or we can choose to be unkind. But if we choose to be unkind, then we’re also changing ourselves into a negative person. This will take its toll until we end up being a resentful and unkind person. The cure for this? Making the effort to be kind instead.
If anything, kindness matters more in an unkind world, as that’s the only way you’ll change it.
There are many things, people, and circumstances that will try to bring you down. Tear you down. Shake you. Don’t let them.
You don’t even have to do anything big, small acts of kindness are all it takes. The little things all add up. One person can make a difference to someone with one small, simple act of kindness.
However, being kind is great and worth pursuing, but make sure you’re protecting your personal boundaries. Otherwise, your kindness might be taken advantage of, and that too can have a negative impact on you (The Dangers Of People-Pleasing And Links To Abuse).
My Road To Kindness
When your entire childhood is a tale of racist abuse, speckled with physical abuse by a couple of your teachers (Suicidal Child #ChildrensMentalHealthWeek), and a mother that tells you you’ve ruined their life by being born (Happy Mother’s Day?), it’s hard to be anything other than damaged, let alone kind.
For years, I struggled with not killing myself. I would take stupid amounts of drugs and drug cocktails in the hopes I’d die high, or I’d destroy my intelligence completely.
“Kindness begins with the understanding that we all struggle.” – Charles Glassman Click To Tweet
Eventually, it all came to a head when I was arrested. It was about this time I decided I wanted to turn my life around and do something to help others.
But that’s not to say I wasn’t completely unkind during my darkest days. After all, I was very much a people-pleaser. But that’s not the same as seeking to be kind for kindness’s sake.
I was sentenced to probation and community service. As part of the community service, you could do educational classes to work off your hours, which I did. One of the educational components I took to work off my hours was a basic IT course. During this course, I often helped explain the basics to almost half the elderly members on the course, and showed them how to do various computer stuff, even though this wasn’t expected of me.
“Sometimes it takes only one act of kindness and caring to change a person’s life.” – Jackie Chan Click To Tweet
I’ve always had that urge to help, although it was most likely my people-pleasing (How To Stop Being A People-Pleaser) side that initially drove such a habit. But I was also held back by the weight of my mental health problems back then, which stopped me from properly putting others before myself because I wanted to, rather than because of some sort of people-pleasing need.
Anyway, I eventually got the idea to go to university and asked the person who was running the IT course (who knew I was on probation and there as part of my community service) if they’d write me a reference. They were happy too, and I got into university because of it.
After university, I looked for volunteer work, and I ended up working as a volunteer for a substance abuse charity. I worked with them as a volunteer for over four years before my physical health problems made it too difficult for me to provide the care my clients deserved.
I also worked for six months at a mental health charity as well. But unfortunately, they ended up losing their contract with the local council to provide the care.
I also do a food Bank donation each Christmas. I currently live on long-term sick benefits at the moment, but I know there are people in worse economic situations than me, especially at Christmas. So I try to do something to help at that time of year, as that’s the time most people go into debt.
How To Be Kind
Hopefully, these tips will help you to develop your kindness skills, help you to become a kinder person, and make society as a whole a kinder place.
Don’t judge people
Not judging people is hard, really hard. I judge everyone, I can’t help it, I’m hypercritical: I’ve been that way my entire life. Although I’m a far harsher critic of myself. But it might help to know that judging people and situations is part of our survival mechanism. We often have to make quick judgements in order to know if we’re safe or not.
However, I don’t let my judgements get in the way. I have the ability to change those judgements pretty easily and quickly. This is the real key to stopping judging people. Realising that these initial judgements are just that, initial, and unless they’re telling you to be careful as you’ve walked into a dangerous system, you should, by and large, ignore them (or at the very least be open to changing them).
So be mindful of your judgments and don’t let them get in your way. I keep my hyper critical thinking to myself and always try to be understanding, positive, and compassionate towards others.
Be kind to yourself
Often the hardest step to take, but also one of the most important. Treat yourself with the same kind of kindness as you treat others. Treat yourself, and others, with respect and gratitude. Praise yourself as you would offer praise to others. Life is hard enough as it is, so try not to add to that by being your own worse critic. I know it’s hard. I am my own worst critic by a country mile times 1000.
It never hurts to offer praise to someone else, and you might even make their day, or even their week, by offering it. I’ve had a few instances of happy words of praise that have stuck with me, although unfortunately, they don’t out weight the negative words that have stuck with me (Words That Stay With You Forever).
Also, for people like me who struggle with depression and other mental health problems (who can also hide it very well), such words can save a life.
Thus, offer praise to others, but don’t forget to offer yourself praise, too. You deserve praise as much as anyone else, so don’t leave yourself out.
In short, just be friendly, be honest (although not too honest, as that can often have the opposite effect of what you’re looking for), be open-minded, be tolerant, be approachable, and be personally authentic, there’s only one you.
Be a good listener
There are many ways to be a good listener. Most often, the only one you’ll really need is to just be there for the person to talk to and to just listen attentively. But you can also use active listening skills, which helps to build rapport and trust.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- But also ask specific questions when you need to seek clarification.
- Paraphrase what they’ve said to you in order to show you understand and are listening.
- Nonverbal cues, such as body language, and gestures like leaning forward, nodding, and engaging in eye contact.
- Short verbal affirmations that show you’re listening, such as saying: “I see” or “I understand”.
- Waiting to disclose your opinion, so don’t interrupt them when they’re sharing.
- If appropriate, disclose your own experiences to show understanding and let them know they’re not alone.
Being polite is an important social skill to have because it can help with all your relationships, work and social. The most important part of being polite is to just be aware and respectful of other people’s feelings. If possible, be mindful of other people’s cultural differences as well.
There are also the classics of politeness, like saying “please” and “thank you”, as well as saying sorry when you’ve done something wrong. You can also hold open a door or two: You can’t really go wrong if you have the basics locked down.
Politeness is an inexpensive way of making friends - William Feather Click To Tweet
Criticizing (constructive feedback)
Obviously, sometimes you’ll have to deliver comments that might hurt the other person. For example, if you’re in a situation where you need to address behaviours to foster change, then it’s about how you do that that can convey kindness. In such situations, choose a way to deliver constructive feedback that will cause the least amount of harm. There’s no reason to cause additional and unnecessary harm. For more tips on how you might achieve this, check out The Hard Truth About Eating The Criticism Sandwich.
A simple thing to do, for some people, is harder for others. I fit into the harder category. This is a hard one for me, as I can’t smile unless something causes me to smile. I can’t fake a smile at all, I can only smile naturally. Almost all pictures that exist of me won’t have me smiling in them.
But if you can, try smiling when greeting and talking to people. Smiles are a warm and friendly body language gesture that can grease the wheels of being seen as warm and friendly.
Your words carry weight
An important part of being kind is being mindful of your words, as words can hurt more, and for longer, than physical pain (Words That Stay With You Forever). So let the words that people will remember you for be kind words, rather than hurtful ones.
Kind words do not cost much. Yet they accomplish much - Blaise Pascal Click To Tweet
A psychological theory (Positive psychology: The Theory And Its Interventions) I wrote about a year ago can be useful for learning to be kind. Positive psychology interventions are a good way to practise kindness for yourself, but also to practise kindness towards others.
It’s time we stopped hating people simply because they produce more or less melanin than you, have ginger hair, a body type you don’t like, has a disability, or are from a different culture than you. Living is hard enough without these meaningless views getting in the way. Don’t be afraid of the other.
Address your own pain
Often we want to hurt others because we’re in pain, which is probably why a lot of online trolls do what they do. If this feels like something you’ve done, or you have the urge to hurt others because you’re hurting, then acknowledge your pain. Then try to deal with your pain so you don’t take it out on others, and if you need to, reach out for support.
Visit my Global Crisis Lines And Support and UK Crisis Lines And Support page for a list of crisis and helpline services that might help you to learn to deal with your pain. You could also check what services are available locally to you for in-person help.
Remember, you deserve kindness too, so be kind to yourself as well as being kind to others.
Pay it forward
Kindness is contagious, but if you really want to spread kindness, then paying it forward is an interesting little movement. Instead of simply accepting or returning an act of kindness done to you, you instead engage in an act of kindness for someone else, often a stranger passing by in the night.
Unfortunately, due to the current situation, we all find ourselves in with the coronavirus, a lot of the above advice can’t be used at the moment. But don’t worry, I’ve got some kindness tips for this situation as well.
- Setting up group chats and video chats.
- Checking in on family and friends with a call or a message.
- Helping vulnerable people by doing their shopping for them.
- Help vulnerable people feel less isolated by finding a way to connect with them, whilst adhering to the lockdown guidelines.
- Now is the time to share your memes, pet pictures, and your other funny videos and pictures.
- Arrange to watch a film or TV show at the same time, and either message or video chat as you watch it.
- Break out the dad jokes and start sending them to people you know.
- Arrange and pay for a takeaway for someone.
- Provide your time to allow people to talk if they’re struggling with the lockdown.
- See what activities you can do with your family and friends online. There are exercise classes and dance classes you can do live as a group online. You can also join an online pub quiz or create your own and share it with your friends and family.
- Do something nice with the people you’re in lockdown with. Never hurts to get to know them better.
- You could donate money to a charity.
- You could even buy a blogger a coffee.
As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences of practising kindness or receiving kindness in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.
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Unwanted Life readers.
89 thoughts on “Kindness Matters: Why It’s Good To Be Kind”
This is a tough read. I’m sorry for everything you’ve gone through, but glad you seem to have come out of it stronger than before. I hope you’re doing well now
Doing better than I was ?
I LOVED this article. I’m such a fan of sprinkling kindness whereever a person goes. It can only do good when it’s genuine. You did a great job covering the topic, including covering kindness during this pandemic!
Thank you ?
Lovely post! Kindness is something I always believe it. The world can be a beautiful place and life won’t be complicated if everyone is kind to each other. But unfortunately, most people refuse to be kind. That’s why the world is suffering now.
I couldn’t have said it better myself
It is great that you are so open and honest by sharing your past in order to help others. I especially liked the section on doing volunteer work. I feel that helping others is incredibly beneficial to us as well.
Indeed it is, I loved being able to give back through volunteering. It was very rewarding and I found something I also enjoyed doing
I am all in for being kind. I think the world is in need of more kindness.
Indeed it is
Kindness is so important, especially in times like these. I like that you highlight that it’s also important to be kind to yourself as well as others. I’m glad you were able to grow from your experiences and be a positive light!
thanks for such a good article.
What a great post! So important and so much good information. Kindness is something we don’t practice enough of and that saddens me greatly. Thanks for sharing.
It saddens me too
Unfortunately, when it comes to the news, negativity sells. Just look at which articles are shared more often online – the stories of crime, violence and destruction generally get far more shares than those feel good pieces that we truly need more of in the world. While I understand that it’s the shock factor, I personally can’t get behind it… I would LOVE to see more good shared in the world. As you said, we need kindness! While we can’t change the mainstream media, we can continue sharing positivity in our own corner of the world, right?
Indeed we can. Charity begins at home, and so does positivity and kindness
I love this piece! Maybe because I have always smiled, I never realized until recently how much a smile means to others. I know smiles brighten my day and just hearing someone else laugh instantly makes me feel a little happier. It is amazing how much of our emotions others pick up on, especially when we are talking with family and friends.
If no one else is being kind, all it takes is one person to start being kind to open other people’s eyes. Paying it forward goes a long way, even if it starts with you. 🙂
Thanks for sharing this.
I wish hearing someone else laugh made me instantly feel a little happier, often it triggers my anxiety. But yeah, small acts of kindness can make a lot of difference, and it helps others to be kind too
I feel like a lot of people see bullying and similar issues as ‘kids being kids’, but it’s completely different when you’re on the receiving end. It is a form of psychological abuse and can really be detrimental to your future mental health. Super important post <3
Thank you. Your spot on, bullying should never be excused as kids being kids, as it’s not good for either child, the one being bullied nor the one bullying. It’s have an effect on both their personalities and neither of them in a good way (but obviously for different reasons)
I definitely agree with you, kindness is a choice. And it’s incredible how few people actually choose to be kind. But they aren’t our responsibility, we can only be responsible for ourselves and do our best. Your journey has been really rough but I’m so glad you’ve come out of it all on top. That’s proper strength, not giving up and changing one’s ways for the better!
Thank you ?
You are really strong who can beyond his own health issues and suffering and choose kindness as way of life despite not getting the same in return every time. Its people like you that world needs more.All the best!
Thank you so much ?
This post is so powerful. I’m sorry you’ve gone through so much. But to come out of it remaining kind is incredible. I try to be as kind as possible. For example smiling to strangers in the street but sometimes it is tough to be kind, when it feels like the whole world isn’t kind back. N x
Indeed it can be tough to be kind in a world that feels unkind, but the only way you can change that is by being kind, even if it’s only something small like smiling
Such an inspiring and honest post. Thank you so much for your courage to be vulnerable. I relate to so much of this. It can be all too easy, when we experience this level of abuse , neglect and cruelty, to turn bitter and hateful, it takes real courage and wisdom to live another way, in kindness. There are so many wise and insightful tips in here and I appreciate this post for so many reasons. Much kindness your way my friend
Thank you. Much kindness your way too ?
Kindness is fundamental! Thank you for sharing this incredibly personal and open post. There are so many people who will connect with what you say and your words will help and inspire them xxx
Thank you. It would be nice if it inspired at least one person ?
Kindness is sooo important in the world, especially right now! I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through but encourage kindness now is such a brilliant thing to do
Thank you for having the courage to speak about your experiences and how they shaped you. Also, wonderful tips. They may be simple gestures, but they make a big difference!
Keeping things simple is often the best way
I love this! I know it must be hard to write about the hardships in your life, but like you said, kindness matters AND makes a difference. Thanks so much for sharing this!
Thanks for reading
I love this post! It’s great that you are sharing ways of being kind and that you are kind to others even though the world hasn’t always been kind to you. I’m sorry for what you’ve been through but I’m glad you’re doing better now. You’re doing a great thing by sharing your experiences because you never know how much someone might relate to what you’re saying. Your words will surely help and inspire people. Keep up the great work!
Thank you. I’ll certainly try to keep it up
Great post, I like to think I do my bit to spread kindness, though I’m sure i could do a lot more.
Everyone could probably do more ?
It’s so difficult to write bout our personal circumstance but this is such a sincere post. I hope people are able to read this and open their eyes to the diversity of what kindnesses can include, not just to others, but to themselves.
Thank you so much for this post, I loved each quotes you picked ❤️
Of course i’m sorry you had to go through that, but i’m so proud of you to not had let that made you an unkind person. This take so much courage xx
My mother is one of the most kind person I know, she just HAS to help people when she can; although being sick herself. It’s kind of « ingrated » in me, although she go way beyond what I would sometimes.. when we were shopping at Walmart once, we had found an older lady who tested a chair and had falled. I shamely wouldve kept walking (I only heard the sound and didn’t thought much of it) but mom insisted to go see her and bring her to the customer support to file a claim. That old lady was so grateful, she kept holding her and tell her mom was her guardian angel.
Your mum does in need sound like a really caring person who goes above and beyond ♥️ Thanks for sharing
Thanks for writing this post, and thanks for sharing your story and journey. I think it’s really important for those of us who have been through the negative experiences in the past to share our stories and help lead the way to a brighter and kinder future.
I really enjoyed this post. Thanks again!
Thank you. Hopefully sharing such stories will help at least one person and avoid the past repeating itself
This is such a real post, Kindness is so underrated in our world today, one of the things that provokes my writing. I feel like if the world spreads and promotes as much love as the hate circulating the entire earth today, the world will surely be a better place to live in. Thanks for sharing this❤❤
It certainly would be a better place. Wouldn’t take much given the petty things that divides us at the moment
I love your recognition that kindess is an act of courage! Kindness is not just thought – it is action!
Indeed it is
In this world filled with unkindness, a little act of kindness can really make someone’s day.
By the way, I am so happy to know that you instead of taking any wrong steps took a step to help people through your blog.
Indeed it can make someone’s day, and thank you ?
Thanks for sharing your story! It’s perfect, and I’m glad you have overcome so much! Your post is a great reminder that kindness goes a long way.
Thank you ? kindness is very important
Beautiful article, expression from the soul. Thanks for sharing #kindnessdoesmatter
Thanks for reading
Lovely post! Kindness can be any size and a lot of the money and a lot of the time is free! I’m definitely making more of an effor this To be kind to the people around me and myself
Hopefully more people will do like you and give more time to be kind to others and themselves
I’m at the beginning of my self kindness journey, thanks for sharing.
A journey everyone should take
Really love your content! This is amazing and so important❤️
Thank you ?
I love the theme of kindness! Such an important topic, thank you for sharing your own experience!
Kindness is an important topic we should all talk about more
What a great post! Especially now, it is such a crucial time to be reminded how important kindness can be. I look around at people these days and I read comments online and far too many have forgotten how meaningful a simple act of kindness can be. Kudos to you for not letting your upbringing be your excuse to be an unkind person; too many people I know do. Thank you for sharing!
It’s not just online, seein the behaviour of people during the pandemic has been shocking, like killing a store worker for asking them to wear a mask or spiting in people’s face because they were asked to wear a mask. I wish the world was a far kinder place than it is
I felt this post on a personal level. I am a firm believer that how you were raised strongly impacts how you treat others. You either continue the cycle or make a change. Thank you for this ?
How you were raised is certainly an important factor in how you treat others
Such an honest post I have read in a long time!! Glad you opted for the positive path and now influencing many lives by spreading that positivity. Much respect for you!!
I have found lately that I am seeing kindness more and more everywhere, a lot less people who are so self-involved. I m not sure if it’s the pandemic doing it, if so, then at least thats one good thing maybe. I don’t know why I am so surprised when I see kindness but I enjoy seeing it and I enjoy the feeling I get out of being kind to someone else no matter how they treat me. 9 times out of 10 I find I am treat with kindness back and that I see it paid forward, which I love to see.
It’s great that your seeing more kindness everywhere you look, I wish that was true for everyone
Thank you for being so brave to share your story! I love everything about this post I think it’s super important to ensure your practise all of the above! I expecially like the be kind to yourself part because I really struggle with that one!
I struggle with that too
Amazing! You totally inspired so many people with your wonderful post here. Kindness goes a long way. I love the honestly, the pureness, the deep thoughts. It is amazing.