It’s mental health awareness week with the theme being kindness. Like cream cheese frosting on carrot cake, you can never have too much kindness. We need to spread it on thick. Being kind is an action word defined as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. Affection, gentleness, warmth, concern, and care are words that are associated with kindness. While kindness can have a connotation of meaning someone is naive or weak, I would disagree. Being kind often requires courage and strength.
Being kind also requires wisdom in the sense that when we break things down, nothing is personal. My podcast is known for the phrase judge less and live more. To me, kindness has always meant keeping a very open mind and taking time to show empathy, even when it is really hard. It is so much easier to judge, especially when people say hurtful things. I wrote an article in 2017 about when unacceptable behaviour is excused. You can read it here. This part from the blog is especially meaningful to me this year:
Some people are more mentally broken than others at different stages in their lives. Some need medication, some need therapy. Sometimes a life changing event can make this life all seem far too much. Sometimes it can come out of nowhere and spiral out of control. In this case, such as severe depression, anxiety, trauma or other mental health disorders than I believe that of course – unacceptable behaviour is excused. It is excused just like a person with a broken leg can be excused from taking part in PE at school.
When I wrote this, I had never experienced a mental illness, so I am very proud of the me 3 years ago who wrote that unacceptable behaviour is excused. I have now been there when I was acutely unwell and my mind wasn’t always working. Mental illness can often feel like there is a stranger inside your body and there is NOTHING you can do to stop it. There may be flashes of the real person from time to time, but the scary thing is waiting in the hope that they will come back. I had to wait in 2015 for my Dad to return to his body. The person who took over it was scary, rude, at times cold and NOTHING like my Dad. When I was unwell, I am told I was at times the same. Just like we all embraced Dad and pushed any hurtful stuff to the back burner, I am so thankful that family and friends have been so incredibly supportive and excused me for anything out of character I said and did. Kindness is so key to the recovery from poor mental health. It makes an incredible difference.
Kindness often starts with how we treat ourselves. Self compassion is so important. Often, when we carry around feelings of guilt, bitterness, tiredness and fear, it makes it so much harder to act with kindness. So don’t be so hard on yourself. Use this crazy and unqiue time of lockdown to slow down, hit alt, control, delete and reboot. I can’t tell you how much I am enjoying a good all reboot. You deserve to be happy. Go easy, judge less and live and love more.
Well said Jojo. ❤️