Our Director of Therapies Ravi Rana reminds us of the value of kindness as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.
As a psychologist for more than 40 years, what can I say about kindness?
Most of us have a pretty good understanding of what ‘kindness’ is, we easily recognise it in others and, mostly I think, we try to be ‘kind’ ourselves.
When I think back over my own experience as a therapist, what seemed to matter to people was rarely any particular therapy or technique, mostly what seemed important was to feel cared for in a ‘friendly, generous and considerate manner’.
If you look at any hospital noticeboard where Thank You cards are posted, those words - friendly, generous, considerate - come up again and again..and they are also in the first hit when you google ‘kindness’.
So, what is it about kindness that makes such a difference?
Much of what makes us miserable is feeling alone and disconnected, as though our concerns don’t matter and, in the end, that we don’t matter. A kind thought, a kind word, a kind act, all of these challenge this view that no-one cares and invite a different perspective.
In being kind first of all we have to recognise what matters to someone else, then we have to value what matters to them, and finally we have to be willing to put their concerns before our own. When we are being kind we try to build a bridge to someone else and make a positive connection with them, so we can reach out and offer them a hand.
When accepted, both people usually feel better and being kind can feel very rewarding indeed. But when kindness is rejected it is painful for everyone.
So, it takes some courage to be kind, to be a friend, to give without expectation, and to respect someone else’s wishes. But it also takes courage to receive kindness, to be willing to acknowledge need and to trust that it will be met honestly.
We’ve all had that moment when we think about doing something for someone but fear we may have misunderstood, or that we’ll be misunderstood - so we hesitate and the moment is lost.
Kindness can be wonderful, take courage!