When training to become a counsellor I remember asking a friend, who was a successful and renowned clinical psychologist, if she had any particular words of wisdom to impart. Imagining that she might refer to the influence on her of a seminal thinker in the field of psychology and therapy, or perhaps the impact of certain skills she used frequently, I was surprised by her thoughtful response. “Just be kind” were her words of advice.
In the wake of the tragic suicide of Caroline Flack we are awash with #BeKind and there is no doubt it is a vital sentiment. It is so easy for a person in the depths of despair, viewing life through the lens of their depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or poor mental health, to be crushed by unkind or judgemental comments. It is also easy to forget or even recognise that judgements we make say more about us and nothing about the person to whom these comments are directed. Any unkind comment or action by us is simply a judgement on that person that fulfills a need of our own. This in turn is something that we might recognise, but is more likely buried much deeper.
The media will continue to generate comments, judgements and add fuel to unfounded fires because that is the way it works, gets attention, likes, engagement, followers. And it is super easy for us to add our own judgement to the mix at the click of a button, without thought for the harm it might ultimately do and without questioning why we might feel the need to make the comment. We might ask ourselves, ‘what purpose does it serve for us’?
Next time we feel the need to make a comment directed at somebody, whether we know them personally or not, maybe it’s time to just reflect on why we are doing it. And perhaps refrain if the outcome is that somebody else will be hurt. Don’t let #BeKind become just another forgotten hashtag, because it could just be one of the most important ones of all.