Why Kindness and Compassion are so Important in these Tough Times
What is the purpose of this podcast? Tease the Happiest Holidays community and get people on my email list.
Live intro - Hello my lovelies. Today we're talking about kindness and compassion in these tough times, and I think few people would dispute that these are tough times we’re living in. Last week I talked about overwhelm and chaos (the link for that is in the show notes) , and this week it’s kindness and compassion in tough times. I’m sensing a theme here for October, and that is going to lead us right into the holiday season which is already a time of heightened stress for so many people, so let’s get talking about all of it and see what to do about it.
People often ask where I get the inspiration for my podcasts, and for this one, there are multiple reasons. Obviously, there’s a lot going on in the world right now and a lot of people taking sides. For those of us who do our best to live by kindness and compassion, it’s hard to take sides when political entities use civilians for their targets. Yes, I know this is a complicated issue, and I am not one to say I know about the intricacies of other countries’ politics and citizenry, and while I have my feelings and opinions about it, I’m not going to discuss that in this forum. Issues like this are for more personal types of communication, at least for me.
What I got the most perspective from concerning the situation in the Middle East is from a creator known as Nas Daily. Nas is a Palestinian Israeli who grew up in a muslim community in Israel. He has traveled extensively, meeting people and sharing the goodness and challenges of countries all over the world. For those who don’t know, which I didn’t, Nas means people in Arabic, and Nas got famous for making 1,000 videos in 1,000 days of his travels. For a while, he traveled with his Jewish girlfriend. They broke up earlier this year because of the work he does, as it doesn’t leave much time for a personal life. I bring that up because after the travel videos, Nas started a company that employs Arabs, Jews and 100 other diverse people, and his Chief Operating Officer is Jewish. The two of them made a video this week about the conflict in Israel, and it is the most powerful thing I’ve watched about what’s happening in that area. The link for that is in the show notes, and I truly hope you’ll watch that after you finish listening to this episode.
The other thing that inspired me to create this episode was a post my sister in law made about how difficult this week is for her. One of the things I admire about my sister in law Lisa is how candid she is about her life. It’s not that she waves a victim flag or lives a “poor me” existence, quite the contrary, but she is honest and forthright about some of the struggles in her life, and I know what she has shared has helped people, including me.
So what’s the big deal about this week for her? Let me start by saying that my father died in March of 1997. This isn’t about me, it’s pertinent to Lisa’s story. My parents were at every holiday and family gathering for my husband’s family because my in-laws were awesome at including others, so Lisa knew and loved my dad. Four months after my dad’s death, my father in law passed away, and at that point, Lisa and her husband Rick had been married 19 years, so my father in law had been a part of her life for over half of it between dating and being married to my brother in law. Then, on October 21st of that same year, Lisa’s grandpa died, and it broke her. Have you ever had someone in your life that loved or loves you no matter what mistakes you make? They always see the best in you and believe in you? For Lisa, that was her grandpa. So, three very important men in Lisa’s life passed away within 7 months, and while we could argue the severity of her trauma in relation to other trauma, I find that pointless, because trauma is not a competition. In Lisa’s case, at this point in her life, this was more than she could handle mentally and emotionally. More about that in a minute.
To make matters worse, during this same week on October 17th, 2021, Lisa’s dad passed away after having dealt with dementia for several years, while she was on her way home from a much needed long weekend with her children and grandchildren. Three days later, our incredible mother in law passed from Covid on the 20th. And, as if that wasn’t enough, Lisa found out less than an hour before her father’s funeral that she had Covid and couldn’t gather with her friends and family. In a small glimmer of goodness, she and her husband were allowed to visit her dad at the funeral home once everyone left the building, small consolation, I know, but at least there was something, and for our mother in law, my husband and I were in charge of transporting her ashes from the church service, so we made a quick stop by Lisa’s house so she could say her goodbyes to our mother in law in person.
So why did this inspire me to create this podcast? Because if you were to see Lisa out somewhere this week, I guarantee she would have her hair done, her makeup on and she would be dressed impeccably because that’s what she does. Looking at her you would never know that amount of emotional gunk that she deals with this time of year, and depending upon the situation, she might be withdrawn, weepy or even short with you, and unless you know her, you could misunderstand and think she’s something that she’s not.
In truth, Lisa is one of the most transparent people I know when it comes to her mental health, and I admire her for it. She shares every year on social media how difficult this week is for her, not for sympathy but to let people know that she still struggles from time to time, and I know that her willingness to share has helped people because I’m one of them. She’s someone I talked to before I started seeing a therapist because I knew she had dealt with good ones and not so good ones. She’s the one who gave me this nugget about the value of a good therapist as opposed to a good friend or clergy member. As she said, a good friend loves you but has their own view of you and your problems, especially if they have a long history with you. Someone in the clergy has an agenda for your spirituality. A therapist is there to help you heal your mind and live a fully integrated life. They have no agenda for a friendship or your mortal soul, but they have a vested interest in you being as mentally healthy as possible, and just hearing that helped me take the plunge into therapy, which is something I am eternally grateful for.
You see, at least in the US, we have this idea that we’re supposed to “tough” everything out, which often means that we ignore situations until they become dire. This happens in the business world as well as in our personal lives. For example, I had an uncle who loved to brag about how high his pain tolerance was, but by the time he went to the doctor for some pain he felt in his body, he had stage four cancer. I’ve seen people stay in relationships far longer than is healthy because they think they can endure it just a bit longer, and maybe something will change and somehow the abuse will just go away. People stay in jobs they hate because the pay or the benefits are good, and it sucks the life out of them, like my dad who died at age 54, and I know in my heart of hearts that the stress of his job was a huge part of that, but he refused to leave the company that did to him. We ignore when parents show signs of decline until they’ve reached a point of crisis because we don’t want the fight we know we’ll inevitably get, and this isn’t to blame anyone for anything, but it is to suggest that there is a different way, and it’s worth exploring.
What if we share rather than hide our struggles, again, not to wave the victim flag, but to show others they’re not alone. That one act helps to remove the shame of whatever we’re dealing with. Do I believe that we should do that in safe spaces? Heck yeah, especially considering the climate in today’s world. The point is that sharing with people gives perspective, lets them know they’re not alone and gives hope that things can get better, and that’s so important to people who are suffering. It can be a huge part of your own healing process and the beginning of someone else’s, and to me, that’s a huge gift you can give to others.
You know, some weeks I struggle to find the words to create this podcast, and other weeks it’s like I cannot keep up with all the ways the Universe, God, the Divine or whatever you call it keeps sending my way. This week was one of the weeks that I could hardly keep up because in addition to the video by Nas Daily and Lisa’s post, there was one final video that convinced me this was the exact topic to write about.
This video was with a young boy and his mom. They were having a discussion about an earlier incident where the little boy was upset and angry about not being able to go outside as a consequence of something that he did, but the extraordinary part about that conversation is how amazingly articulate that little one was discussing his uncomfortable emotions and how wonderfully his mother dealt with him in the process. He explained his frustration, talked through his emotional process and apologized for speaking badly to his mother, and all I could think was that he was more emotionally mature than a whole lot of folks I know that are much older than he is, and I have no doubt that he will grow up to be a man that can handle his own emotion and offer compassion and kindness to those who need it. For people of faith, it was most definitely seeing grace personified…in a 4 year old boy. In addition, when he told his mother how angry he was with her earlier, she never got defensive or told him that he made your angry. Instead, when he said he was mad about not being able to go outside, she simply replied that it was a consequence of something he had done early, and she was understanding about his anger, saying we all get angry sometimes, and when he said he cried and was sad and after a while he felt better, she affirmed that we all get angry, cry and then get over things, with a four year old. It was astounding. And of course the link for that video is in the show notes because you have to watch it. You really do.
So many of us did not have parents that were emotionally advanced enough to teach us the skills that this little boy learned, and when I was the parent to littles, I wasn’t there either. As a grandparent, I’ve helped my granddaughter walk through some big emotional moments, but I wasn’t equipped to do that with my children at first. I spent a lot of time learning about things like tapping and intentional parenting and raising my children to be the men I hoped to see in the world, men like their father, who I admire greatly. Were we perfect parents? Of course not, but we tried very hard to help our children become the best version of themselves that we could.
Happily I tell you that I am incredibly proud of the kind of men my sons are, and I believe 100% that my children and their chosen partners in life will be better parents than my husband and I were because we gave them the tools we had, which were better than the tools our parents had and helped them start adult life way better than we did in every way possible. Hopefully, when our grandchildren are adults, they will be even better parents than their parents for the same reason, that is, if all of them decide to have a family. That’s how we raise the next generation to be better than we are, and rather than constantly ripping on the younger generation as if they’re stupid, which they are not, might it not be a better use of our time to empower them to be better than us so we leave the world a better place than we found it? Duh!
Finally, I want to share a little something for each of the personality types because as you approach this situation, you will all excel with some of it and struggle with other parts.
For the Driven personality, you are the most likely to lean into toughing it out, but the tougher the times and the tougher you act when you’re covering up your vulnerability, the more likely you are to wound the ones you love most. Practice the pause before you speak, and as comedian Michael Yo would say, don’t say the first or the second thing that comes into your mind. Say the third thing because it allows your mind to slow down and think about what you’re about to say that you cannot take back. Toughness is definitely a strength for you, so use it wisely and encourage toughness to a point without demanding it in every situation because while you can teach toughness, others can teach you about love and vulnerability, and when you’re done shuddering about that, you might understand how powerful that can be.
For the Inspired person, you love people, and always want to help, but be aware that sometimes people need to step back, and your greatest gift is to leave them be. You’re someone who wants to lean in, but in some cases you have to let them know that you can be there in a flash if they want or need anything from you’re willing to give them the space and quiet they need. There is without a doubt someone who wants and needs your love and cheerful disposition, so pour into those who want and need it, while checking back in regularly with the ones who need that time alone. I cannot emphasize how much people appreciate an occasional gesture to show you’re thinking of someone rather than a constant love bombing when they need their space. Been there, lived that.
To the Supportive person, being there for people is what you live for, but sometimes being there is not what people want. While you’re quite intuitive and can hold space for someone, please know that if someone rebuffs your quiet offer of support, it has nothing to do with you and everything to do with them, and sometimes the kindest thing you can do is to walk away, at least for a bit and as long as you don’t suspect anyone will harm themselves or others. I know how difficult that is for you, but sometimes it’s necessary. Let them know when you’re thinking about them and keep the invitation open to connect, but like the Inspired personality, find people who welcome your gentle, giving spirit. The other thing you’re often skilled at is connecting people to others that can help them, so sending an occasional note or video that leads someone to someone who can help them might be the best way ever to support those you are concerned about.
To the Cautious personality, you get quite frustrated when things get “out of whack” because you have a very clear vision of how life should be, and you hate it when it isn’t, but understand that often when people are not following social norms, it’s because they are having a tough time, and it’s our job to extend compassion as humans rather to instruct them on how to do things right. There is definitely a time and a place for your immense skill at seeing how to do things the right way, but be judicious about how you use that amazing superpower of yours. If you’re standing up for someone else, which you’ve been known to do when you believe someone is being “wronged”, make sure they want that. If they do, you’ll make an amazing team. If not, honor their wishes, even if you know that the person would benefit greatly from your support to save both of you loads of stress and frustration in the long run.
Speaking of helping people and superpowers, my friend Jeannine of Sweet, Humble Home and I are continuing to work on a holiday bundle to help you deal with the tough times that are sometimes intertwined with the joy of the holiday season. To learn more about that, head over to the Moving Toward Better website and sign up for our email community. That way you’ll get all of the information you need to have the best possible holiday season this year and beyond. Until next time, keep moving toward better and shining your light as brightly as you can. Love you all!
Times are tough, but maybe rather than toughing things out, there’s a better way to deal with the difficulties in our lives. What if we connect rather than retreat into our shell and make the world a better place together? See if you think it’s worth a shot.
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* Nas Daily Video - https://www.instagram.com/reel/CyXx_jcrVTs/?igshid=MzRlODBiNWFlZA==
* Moving Toward Better Episode - Bash Overwhelm and Change the Stupid Made Up Rules - https://www.movingtowardbetter.com/podcasts/moving-toward-better/episodes/2148215295
* Four year old boy discusses emotions with his mom - https://fb.watch/nJpTHP4lv1/
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Intro and Outro music licensed from Melody Loops.