I started to write a post about showing humanity, being authentic, being human. But on the way my emphasis changed. I know that being human comes with the dark sides. Sometimes it's very human to hurt others, to make the person next to you feel awful, to be unkind. It's in the human nature. As it is in human nature to be violent and passionate, it's also in human nature to push the violence and passion away. Feeling less.
When you see suffering, your first response is fear and feeling upset. It makes you lash back, try to force things fixed, or close your eyes. It is in human nature to not be kind. Sometimes, kindness is all we need. Kindness, however, is very personal. It comes with empathy, and empathy makes it intimate. Kindness makes you vulnerable. Impersonal, distant, that's safer.
I hate it when people push links on Twitter day and night. I hate it when people share only flatlays or inspirational quotes on Instagram. I hate how when I post impersonal stuff, people follow me, and when I post personal stuff, those same people unfollow as soon as possible. Impersonal is the way to go, it seems. That's leaving most of us unhappy, discontent and just plain depressed. Impersonal pushes the empathy and kindness away.
This is partially why I started to do these Slow Sunday posts. This is why I send exclusive and often quite personal emails to my list. This is why, when I wrote tips for better blogging, I included the tips "Have fun" and "Make your own rules". The web has become impersonal, cold and unkind. It was never perfect, but now it's worse.
Especially when you show vulnerability, the vultures come out. Online, people are quick to ridicule and down-talk, or give pointless advice that makes you feel awful. You are only allowed to talk about struggles when you have conquered them, when they are in your past. Otherwise, you are whining. Any sign of a struggle and there are certain people coming out with advice that doesn't help you, but makes them feel they have done everything for you. If you don't follow their advice, it's your loss.
I believe there's certain selfishness in all of us. When we help others, we help ourselves. Either we help others as a sort of an investment. Since I helped them now, they will remember it later. Or we help them to make ourselves feel better. Suffering, anger, sadness, it makes you feel bad. To soothe that bad feeling, you help if you can. I can't judge you. As I said, I believe that's in us all. The need to make things better for ourselves. It can lead to all sorts of great things. Good can come out of that selfish need of helping yourself. It is okay. Pure kindness out of kindness, that's tricky.
It's easy to give advice and pass judgement. Kindness, that's difficult and rare. Kindness towards others and towards yourself. Kindness doesn't mean you have to have a piece of advice. It doesn't have to mean giving money or stuff, though that may be needed in some cases. But really, kindness can be not giving that first advice that came to your mind (unless a person was asking for it). Kindness can be sharing a blog post or following without expecting the same in return. It can be just liking an update, or letting the other person know you are there. Kindness doesn't require big gestures or grand actions.
Kindness is in the small stuff. It's in a smile, it's in little words of empathy. It's in stopping to listen, paying attention.
When was the last time you were truly kind towards someone, even yourself?
Slow Sunday is a series about slowing down, dealing with depression and anxiety, soothing your stress, relaxing, and getting over yourself. Do let me know if you have a specific subject you'd like me to write about. And please, share your personal thoughts and feelings about the subject in the comment area of the article.
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I'm Mervi Emilia Eskelinen, an artist and online presence strategist from Finland. I coach and consult indie businesses and bloggers to find focus with their branding, marketing and web. I have almost 20 years of experience, a bachelor's degree and some fun certifications in everything about digital media and marketing.