What would the world be like if we all practiced kindness to ourselves and each other?
Kindness is an undervalued commodity in our culture. What if news stations had a daily kindness report? It isn’t thought of as noble or courageous, and often goes overlooked. I work with depressed people in my therapy practice often, and I’m always impressed by the utter lack of kindness they have for themselves. This seems to be a theme with depression. Anyone who has ever been depressed can describe the self-loathing and negative internal dialogue that accompanies this diagnosis. I’m convinced depression and many other conditions are symptomatic of a severe lack of kindness. It isn’t my intention of over-simplify mental health issues here. I just want to make the point that when people are unkind to themselves, it can be symptomatic of a serious condition. What is more unkind that the brutally devastating act of suicide? Suicide is the ultimate act of unkindness, eliminating the individual who commits the act, and devastating the loved ones left behind.
I often have my depressed clients watch a video about the Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto’s experiments with water crystals:
It is an amazing and powerful demonstration of the reality that our words have power that we can’t fully comprehend. I explain to my patients that their negative inner dialogue is more harmful than they can imagine. I teach them to stop their negative thoughts and replace them with kinder thoughts. Sadly, when people are depressed this isn’t at easy as it sounds. I have them watch this video, and still they forget and get caught up in the negative, harsh internal dialogue.
I know I have at times been guilty of this same harsh internal dialogue. I know equally well that I am not capable of functioning at my best when I am beating myself up. How could I be? How could anyone be at the top of their game, when they are down on themselves? I’ve recently been studying a variety of ways to more efficiently change this pattern of negative internal dialogue. I feel a sense of urgency to learn as much as possible about how to quickly help my clients reverse their pattern of unkindness toward themselves.
Kindness. It’s simple, but it’s not easy. Mother Teresa said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes can be endless.” I want to help make it easier to speak kind words to each other, but even more so, I want to make it easier for individuals to be kind to themselves. I know that when that is happening, people will be stronger, healthier, more courageous, and more able to love.
Be kind to others, and to yourself, today and every day.