Kindness – a simple enough word but not so simple to action. For some anyway… I think kindness is something you learn early on in life and it’s hard to create later in life if the foundations haven’t already been established – it’s not impossible to nurture into something from nothing but it takes a lot more work, work people aren’t willing to put in because kindness isn’t something you always have, it comes and goes and evolves and is not always reliable.
I think back to when Caroline Flack took her own life because of things strangers were saying about her and her situation about this time 2 years ago and I remember her friends and family at the time really sharing and campaigning for ‘just be kind’. This might be because it was close to Random Act of Kindness day, I could be because it was very true that we should be kind to everyone, everyone is going through something each day and what is the benefit of not being kind? There is none.
The way that I’m going to foster kindness and inclusivity in 2022 is by starting with me. Kindness to self is so neglected within my friendship group and at work and those around me. Why do we refrain from being kind to ourselves and choose to be kind to someone else? Why are we so reluctant to spend time and energy on ourselves yet, at the drop of a hat, we are kind to others? Why is being selfish a bad thing? Conditioning is why. We are told to believe that we are not worth anything if not helping others. Of course helping others is important and this conditioning may be more prevalent in certain communities and upbringings but growing up and maturing into yourself, you have to re-learn somethings and one of those things, in my opinion, is to know yourself and love yourself.
If you can’t be kind to yourself, I don’t think you can be kind to others as you don’t truly understand kindness, you are just doing what you think you should in line with your conditioning. Being kind to yourself includes not being hard on yourself, to spend time on yourself and giving yourself ‘you time’, it’s to know your boundaries and not saying yes too often, it’s about feeling okay about not being productive 100% of your time, it’s about doing what you want to do, not succumbing to some kind of pressure. That’s how I’m going to foster – by educating and influencing others to be kind to oneself and feel good and not bad about doing so.
For example, at work I have helped head up a combination of valentines day and random act of kindness day and getting people around the business to share a compliment or praise someone for something. Having it in an open forum may be daunting to some but just seeing someone smile or laugh or feel some happiness, even for a moment, can help you feel the love and you can then pass that love and enthusiasm onto someone else creating a love train of people and sharing kindness to paid strangers in a way at work. It acts a Mexican wave in the attempt for everyone to feel the love if they can’t generate that love themselves.
Inclusivity for me, is about education. I’m part of the LGBTQ community but I don’t know all that I probably should know about the T part of that community, maybe not even the L part of the community and that’s down to me not being exposed to those that live and breathe it but also the lack of widespread information. I’m actively seeking education online and around the world of news stories of tragedies as well as the good that’s happening. I do some of this by following the ‘right’ people on social media that share these stories, I’m also watching documentaries – local and worldwide, small and large – and absorbing the feeling of being that person in that situation. Until it hits home, a lot of communities don’t get the time of day because it’s deemed as unrelatable but what if that situation happened to you? What if you were that person’s family that that happened? How would you react? Does it matter that your not part of that community to support them? I also support LGBTQ+ focused charities that help youths get the support they need.
Education is about asking questions and finding answers. To not be afraid of the truth, to welcome change and news and be fickle with your opinions and habits can be untaught. Judgement is narcissistic confidence with only our own experiences and knowledge to back you up. If you judge something, you’re only able to use what you know (or what you think you know, from what other people tell you like your family or the news) and based on that narrowed view, making an assumption because humans like to have an answer for everything and like to put things in boxes so it’s easier to compartmentalise but life is far too complicated for that shit so why judge? Why not try to learn and explore and evolve?
To increase my inclusivity I’m venturing out of my comfort zone and joining community groups and searching for events around my area like volunteering to socialise with refugees and asylum seekers and with a homeless charity. I’m learning a new language to not be that typically British person when I’m travelling somewhere. I’m breaking down barriers at work talking openly about anything, from mental health to money, I’m breaking down barriers with friends around ‘fronting’ behaviours and ensuring there is an open space for them to talk anything. I’m always bringing in the ‘other side’ of the story to the side of the story I’m being given my anyone. I’ve also started writing the book that I’ve been thinking about writing for a long time in an attempt to bring true life stories into fictional, ‘entertaining’ avenue. I’m trying to stand up for communities that need the support.
Most of all I’m being kind to myself so I can be kind to others.