Black ink drawing of a girl seated with speech bubble saying be kind always.  Drawn by Roo Betty

What does kindness mean to you?

“Be kind!”  probably the most banded about words of 2019/2020.  The most printed slogan on T-shirts - yep Roo Betty also has a tee especially designed with those very words.  But what does it actually mean and are you really embracing the full meaning of those words?

Are you REALLY being kind?

Kindness is important, after all it’s in our DNA, it’s why we thrive.  If we didn’t care and all ran around as individuals all humans would probably become extinct years ago.  When you’re kind it’s like planting a seed, the roots spread out and start to affect others.  But being kind isn’t as easy as you’d think.  The #bekind movement which began to really evolve a few years ago stemmed from a rather unfortunate and unpleasant event.  Remember the death of Caroline Flack?  Let’s not forget that through the unkindness of strangers this lady was led down a very dark path and potentially fuelled her untimely death.  We cannot say for sure the reasons Caroline felt the need to take her life but let’s just say the unpleasantness that was prior to her death was extreme and probably did assist her choices on that dark day.

How kindness affects your Mental Health

We can see how unkindness can affect the world, the negative results are all around us to see.  Litter on the street, dog mess left behind on a path, to name a few the list is endless.  When we’re unkind on a daily basis you have to ask where did that unkindness start.  When was the seed planted that someone felt it was ok not to bother?  After all that’s what it amounts to.  Was someone unkind to that person one day and as a result meant they were affected and just decided not to bother?  Kindness does really affect your mental health subconsciously.  Think about it for a minute, if someone is kind, pleasant or smiles at you you feel great, if you receive no feedback or negative behaviour then in turn you feel down too.  The connection is clear for all to see, if you’ve ever seen the plant experiment it is really fascinating here to see.  Whatever you want to call the unkindness, - bullying, racism or fat shaming the unwanted opinion of someone else can have devastating effects. Leading to a domino effect that ripples outwards.  It takes strength to stop this.

Can kindness change the world?

So let's take a moment, and just think about how we can change this.  Think about all the times you were unkind?  Noone is excluded from this, let’s face it at sometime or other you may have formulated an opinion based on someones else choices and were negative about that.  The thing is it’s ok to have an opinion, it’s ok to feel different about something or someone.  To not like someone purely because you don’t.  It’s ok to say why you don’t like something or to disagree with someone.  What’s not ok is to badger someone, harass them or seek out those you don’t like in order to inflict negativity upon them.  Didn’t your mother always tell you “if you haven’t anything nice to say then don't say anything at all”?  At this point I would say have the thought feel the thought and then let it pass by, after all the negativity and unkindness comes from a seed, something that was planted years ago when someone (perhaps it was you that planted it) was unkind to you and that made it ok to say and feel that unkindness.

Be kind to yourself and others

So how do you change those feelings?  I’ll be completely honest with you here.  I’ve been unkind, said things in a heated discussion, directed insults at someone just because.  I can’t confess to being whiter than white here.  The saying “hurt people hurt people” really is the truth.  At the time of me being that person I was not in a great place and as a result I would find myself in more negative environments.  Embattled in more arguments, more disagreements just plain argumentative.  It took a lot of practise and a lot of reflection to find where that seed was planted.  What I found shocked me.  I wasn’t planted by a bully; it wasn’t stemmed from anyone else but myself.  It was my decision to believe the haters and in turn hate on myself.  After all had I been kind and dismissed the hateful comments and had a little self love and belief I would have flourished regardless, just like the plant in the experiment.  Had I chosen to ignore the words and turn some love and kindness my way I may have found my epiphany sooner.

You have the power to change.

So next time you feel depressed, down, upset by others remarks or just having an off day.  Take some time for some self care, self love and belief.  Turn attention to yourself and be kind.  After all, kindness can change the world if enough people are onboard.  You have the power to change your thoughts and your actions.  Yes no doubt it hurts I understand that and have sat many times with the pain.  But when you feel the pain and then turn it into kindness you’ll start to notice a change.  Kindness rarely fails, it sometimes isn’t up taken but that doesn’t mean it’s failed.  If you lead by example and show yourself kindness the world will start to see that and feel the love.  So I urge you BE KIND especially to you.

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