What is kindness and how does it feel to you? There are so many ways to show kindness, but the message behind an act of kindness is really held in the intention, the body language and the words spoken rather than in the act itself. If a person acts kindly to another the feeling invoked is one of warmth and camaraderie.
Kindness speaks of compassion and empathy. Those that can show it are able to see beyond their own needs and think of how the other person/people are feeling. Empathy is not the same as kindness, but one needs to be empathetic to others’ feelings in order to feel inclined to show kindness. Some people are able to give to others selflessly without prompting, whereas others may need to learn kindness through the example of others.
I think kindness is a higher form of consciousness in itself; It creates an energy of love when the act is devoid of judgement or criticism. To be kind to someone you don’t know is extra special, particularly when it is hard to know whom to trust. However, kindness is a real bridge builder and creates opportunities for connections with others that may not otherwise eventuate.
A person who is unable to show kindness may be holding trauma from the past due to a difficult childhood or event in their lives. The way we act towards others is always a reflection of how we feel about ourselves, so it’s likely that a person who acts without kindness or love is unable to feel or show those things to themselves. Love must be an inward gift before it can be sent outward. If love has not been shown or demonstrated to us as children, how can we know what it feels like or how to give it, let alone receive it? A person devoid of being able to empathise with others is a lot more likely to be and feel disconnected from others, causing them to feel alone and unsupported.
As a teacher, kindness was an important theme and focus in my social skills program, for social skills need to be taught. However, I must say that some children and young people that I have met or worked with over the time have put adults to shame with the empathy and compassion they have shown their peers. Children seem to find it much easier to accept others’ differences, unless they have been influenced by the prejudices of their elders.
With the many lockdowns and isolations that people have and still are experiencing due to the Covid 19 pandemic, feelings of disconnection have seen many incidents of selfish and anti-social behaviour in children and adults alike. In addition, the fact that so many people are glued to their phones and/or computer games, the art of conversation, telling stories and spending time as a family around the dinner table seems to be non-existent in some households. Lack of social interaction for extended periods can cause many problems, but I think we can make a lot of inroads in our society if we can put our own judgments aside and just listen to others with kindness and compassion.
You never know the difference you can make to another person’s life just by doing that.
**By Victoria Cochrane