Compassion and kindness go hand in hand. In times of struggle, compassion is often the driver for acts of kindness. And a simple act of kindness can breed and grow – setting off a chain reaction with limitless impact.
I always strive to show compassion – with my colleagues, my family, friends and even strangers. My empathy and humanity is a strength. When I show compassion, I am putting another before myself – I want no thanks, no reward. Yet I benefit in turn through the feelings of happiness and purpose I experience. I derive joy in believing that, in some way, however small, I have helped another. I have made a difference. And there are many known benefits of showing compassion and I am sure, still more to be uncovered and researched.
Compassion is not pity. It is noticing someone in pain or in need of help and offering what you can, with the aim to alleviate their suffering.
I see extraordinary acts of compassion all around me. In the news and on Social Media I read countless stories of communities and individuals looking out for the most vulnerable and of those working tirelessly on the front line to help those who are sick and keep us all safe. Closer to home, I see inspirational colleagues and students across the University who are supporting each other and their local communities – from the Isolation Choir Project, to online workouts for pregnant women and new mums; online learning resources for parents, carers and teachers to our Mental Health Nursing students supporting the vulnerable during lockdown.
Even in the smallest acts, we can make a difference. In taking a moment to consider how our actions might effect others, checking in with someone who might be struggling, offering a listening ear, reassuring each other that it’s ok not to be ok, being flexible with deadlines – helping each other where possible and just showing our humanity.
Self-compassion is equally important. We have to be kind to ourselves – take that break, spend time away from work, try not to feel guilty for not getting everything done today, don’t compare yourself to others. We need to remember that we are all doing the best we can. A recent podcast episode from Checking In with Susan David really helped re-align my thinking around self-compassion and might help others too.
Right now we might be feeling disconnected. We might be isolated and alone. If we can’t see each other, or be in the same physical space, it can be difficult to notice if someone is struggling. For me, this is even more of an incentive to bring compassion to the fore in everything I do and in my virtual interactions with others. I aim to put people first – to ask about them and how they are. To genuinely listen and give my time as generously as I can. To offer encouragement and support.
I urge you all to keep doing the same and consider compassion in everything you do – it could just make someone’s day.
Zoe Connell, Organisational and People Development