What does it mean to be kind? Does it have a different meaning at different times of the year? I’ve seen a lot of things written lately about kindness at Christmas. What does that mean in the middle of the bustle, one of the busiest and what can often be one of the most stressful times of the year?
At the risk of sounding selfish, I want to tell you what it means to me. I want to do this because in the last few weeks, I’ve been struggling with lots of things; normal day-to-day stuff. I know I’m not alone because I’ve been talking to lots of people: friends, family members and, actually, a few strangers that I’ve found myself in conversation with, in shop queues which at this time of year have a habit of moving slowly.
I’ve been having what I call one of my, ‘funny little times’. Not funny in a humourous way but in a way that means sleep has evaded me, my anxiety has gone beyond what I feel is manageable and there have been days when I’ve felt like I’m ploughing through treacle (metaphorically that is, because probably like you, I’ve never actually ploughed through treacle but I imagine it’s rather difficult). In amongst all of this oddness, is the notion that December, with its anticipation and build up to Christmas, should be a time of being jolly, festive and kind to one another. But for lots of people, this time of year can be really difficult.
So, this morning, I’ve realised something. One of the reasons I’ve been feeling like I have (there’s a few reasons but this is the one I want to talk about) is because I’ve forgotten about being kind to me. That’s right. ME. That word that sees us looking inward instead of outward, makes us acknowledge things that maybe we’d rather not and which, if ‘me’ isn’t taken care of, makes it impossible to be properly kind to anybody else.
It’s a big THING, kindness. It’s one of those things that keeps the world revolving, like compassion and empathy. It’s the THING that I’ll be shown when I visit the chemotherapy unit at James Cook University Hospital this morning by the team of staff there who are part of my angels on earth, many of whom, I think, often forget to be kind to themselves. My visit today will see me put my smile on at the door and think of something lovely when the wonderful phlebotomist takes my blood, and who will do so with expertise and precision because it’s his job and he’s fabulous at it. He makes that part of things so much nicer.
When I leave the unit today, I’ve decided on something. I’m going to take home within me some of the staff’s kindness as a reminder that without kindness inside of me, shown to me, I can’t be properly kind to anybody else. And that’s part of my current problem solved. I’ve left kindness to ME somewhere and seem to have forgotten where I’ve put it.
Remembering to be kind to ourselves is vital, not just in December; it’s important throughout the year. But in the lead up to Christmas, with its madness and mayhem and frenzy of activity, let’s stop for a moment and remember you; that person who needs to show kindness to themselves first, a bit of TLC and a warm self-pat on the back as a reminder of how far you’ve come.
Kindness at Christmas: make it start with you. Sharing and showing kindness after that will help to make this season of goodwill kind to us all.
Merry Christmas. xx