Kindness is something I aim to live by and promote. We see this quote a lot ‘In a world where you can be anything be kind’. This is a good quote but how can we truly be kind. Yes kindness is helping people out, looking out for them, doing random acts of kindness that’s for sure. But we need to be more kind with our words in person, online and in private. I am not perfect, I don’t always live up to my own tips but I certainly try to remind myself and my kids of these as often as possible.
If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all
This weekend I heard about Caroline Flack and her tragic passing. The reports of abuse online and by the media that she endured is shameful, shocking and upsetting. On Sunday morning on Irish radio, three female politicians spoke about their experiences of hate online. One said, ‘if she had a euro for every time she was called the ‘c’ word, she could retire’. While Caroline’s passing is the ultimate of price people’s verbal abuse, there is no doubt that the said politician also feels unpleasant at the very least upon reading and hearing such vile language said in relation to her as a person. Someone said to me today, sure if you are in the limelight you must put up with that. I disagree, they are human beings with feelings too.
Whatever happened to the saying ‘if you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all’ I wonder? Why do so many people feel that they can write, message, comment or openly abuse people through social media or forums? It’s the most cowardly bullying of all.
Behind every single famous face is a real feeling human being with lives as messy as the rest of us. Do they really need to be taken down a peg or two? Personally, I find the Irish the worst that this, as soon as you are perceived as ‘successful’ in anyway there is someone there just waiting to begrudge you. And really does anyone ever really deserve the title of the ‘c’ word? In case of a politician, it may be that you disagree with their policies but surely this isn’t good enough reason to label someone you don’t know with the ‘c’ word.
Now I know that most of us would never comment, bully online or abuse someone face to face , BUT we have all been involved in a good old gossip session with friends or family. I have to face up to the fact despite aiming to be kind, I fall short by partaking in such unpleasant talk. What purpose does this gossip and negativity serve?
Have you ever had a conversation with someone and felt uneasy or kind of sick by the conversation because you are being overly negative or gossiping/bitching about someone? Recognise that this is your inner wisdom saying to stop.
Anna McArthur is a phycologist , which I follow on Instagram, posted on Sunday on how belittling, bitching, gossiping just makes us feel better for a short period of time about our own lives or ourselves. It’s a reflection of our own self esteem. Her piece reminded me of something else I read a few years back – when you dislike someone it may be because you see something in them that you believe about yourself. You may think to yourself, she works too hard and never sees her kids. But really is this because you feel guilty for not continuing your career? Or are you jealous in some way? I often find that this is the case. Sometimes when I take a dislike to someone, I realise it’s because we share a fault or even an asset. It’s not always that obvious so stop and ask yourself why do I dislike this person.
Kindness begins with being kind to yourself
You don’t have to like everyone that’s for sure. But you can just knowledge why to yourself. And if there is something about them that reminds you of yourself, be kind to yourself. We are humans, full of flaws just trying to make our way in the world. Like everything, kindness begins with yourself and in your home.
See the good points in others
Another great tip I have learned from a friend is try to see the good in everyone. This is especially helpful. The TD who closed your local hospital, maybe she got grant funding for the local playground. Turn the negative into a positive. Or maybe that girl in work is really moody, but a good thing about her is she always offers to pick you up a coffee or she cleans the common kitchen after herself. Find something small you like.
Empathise - See things from other people’s point of view
Have you ever been on the receiving end of road rage or ended up having an altercation with someone through no real fault of your own? Ask yourself is this person going through a bad time at the moment, that as skewed their common sense? The woman who got really angry when your kid knocked into her in the supermarket despite your embarrassment and apology, she may have very unhappy home or has just received some bad news. Be kind as you never know the struggle someone is going through. Give them the benefit of the doubt.
Another lifelong reminder is to try to see something from someone else’s point of view. If we can empathise with someone else’s situation, you would find it every hard to bitch or comment negatively online. You don’t have to agree with everyone. Variety is what makes the world interesting. And accept everyone is on a different journey.
In our downstairs loo, I have a framed print with a quote from Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird ‘you never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view….until you climb inside of his skin and walk around in it’
Rules to live by both online and offline :
- If you have nothing good to say, say nothing at all
- Stop gossiping or speaking negatively in private as much as you can.
- Ask yourself - ‘Are you perfect?’ Of course not, we are all human. Be kind to yourself too.
- Empathy– try to understand things from another person’s point of view. .
- See the good in everyone.
- No one truly deserves the title of the ‘c’ word.
- Make sure your children are kind, empathic and understanding individuals
Sidenote - Another word on Social media
Social media and the internet is at its best, a great way for connecting us and communicating. However, even if you want to say something nice or give advice, it can be very hard to come across as genuine on a page or forum. It’s one of the very reasons I shy away from social media and engaging on social media. Such writing is a skill that most people lack or people just type without truly editing or thinking ‘how will this be perceived?’. This is probably the reason why I prefer to call a person rather than message them! A tone of voice is easier to communicate in person or through voice rather than the written word. We can shy behind our screens but true connection and happiness comes in person. It would serve us all to remember that.