Being Kind

By Stuart Simons

2022 saw a lot of divisions within the world that I frequent. This was personally as well as globally and all of it can induce anxiety and upset, it certainly does in me. A feeling of despair and sadness is so easy to achieve and complete happiness can be really hard to pin down. In these tricky times, it’s important to remember that we are all Human Beings and we must try our very best to be kind to ourselves and to look out for one another and to do our best to spot when someone is struggling. There are many signs to look out for, it would be impossible for me to list them all here, I’m also not aware of them all but I can certainly give you some examples of some of the times I have needed help this past year and maybe they can help you spot if someone, just like me in 2022, struggles in 2023. 

When the Ukraine war started in February 2022 I really had difficulty getting my head around one nation, in Europe of all places, being invaded by another. It felt frightening that an entire country could be displaced and in one night, all of the things that were normal to them would be different by sunrise. It knocked me for 6. I struggled to function and work normally. I was constantly distracted and concerned for the future. I needed help. I got it in the form of Therapy by the wonderful Kellie Keccerlli (YooKanToo Therapy) but I also saw many people in my life rally around me, forming a protective barrier of strength that I really needed. Colleagues stepped in to do my job as I wasn’t able to be present, staff worked extra days to make sure that my business stayed afloat. Family and close friends offered emotional support and gave me confidence to slowly start re emerging in to a normal thought pattern again. Its really amazing how ill ones mind can make you. Nearly a year on and I am functioning. I have learned ways to deal with the anxiety that this brings me. It’s a bit like having an addiction for me, sometimes I fall off the wagon and retreat back in to an unhealthy place in my mind but I find it easier to get back on again and compartmentalise my thoughts. So to all those that entered a conversation with me in 2022 and helped me through this difficult patch, I would like to say thank you. You couldn’t know how much it meant to me. 

I noticed earlier this year that one of my clients had stopped being as regular as they would normally be. They would usually bring their dog in to me every 6 or so weeks without fail and the dog would be immaculately groomed every time. 6 weeks turned to 8 and a few matts started to appear which I thought odd but I continued on putting it down to affordability and time restraints. When the dog missed an appointment and came in matted I knew something was wrong. It turns out that the clients partner had passed away. She was quite clearly struggling personally and simply couldn’t manage the amount of emotion and grief as well as continue the normal life schedule. I remember, when going through grief from the loss of my dad many years ago, I felt slightly annoyed that the world outside my window was continuing as if nothing had happened but my world had changed forever. Having an experience of a situation can help but we are all human and can understand that life can be really hard, empathy costs us nothing. I chatted candidly to her about it and asked what I could do to make things a bit easier. We decided to pre book her yearly appointments so that they were in the diary and it was one less thing for her to think about. I would send her a text a couple of days before making sure it was still convenient and she could cancel if it wasn’t. I allowed her to stay for the groom so that we could have a chat and give her a chance to talk about anything. Sometimes people just need to talk about something away from their usual lives to give them a break. I think it helps. It certainly did for her and her dog is back to being the perfect pooch we know and love and she is getting better with every day that passes. 

One other experience that I have to mention is my Mike and Janet experience. To cut a long story short, I found myself in a very sticky situation last month on the way home from work. There was a huge snow storm in Sussex and I was halfway home. I ended up in a very rural area, my car had failed to get up a hill due to ice and I found myself wandering, lost in the middle of the countryside in darkness. I had walked 3 miles to a hotel that I had booked only to be turned away at the door. They had given my room to someone else. They threw me out and I simply had no where to go. No idea where my car was and no sign of any way anyone could come and help as all the roads were closed. Mike and Janet passed me by in a car and I was quite visibly frightened. They stopped and offered me warmth in their car. We were stuck in the countryside for hours, occasionally stopping to help other cars who had become stuck on the ice. Eventually they offered me a place to stay in their spare room. I had no where to go and no other option so I was incredibly lucky to have happened across such kind human beings. They couldn’t have been more wonderful. It made me realise that there are beautiful people in the world. We should all try very hard to be more like Mike and Janet. Would you have stopped?

Kind words cost nothing and are so important for us. We all have a dark side of course. There are demons everywhere and a bit of light and shade doesn’t hurt. Our brains have their own thoughts. The world would be a very dull place if we all have the same opinions. The trick is to be kind, even if your opinions don’t match. I try very hard to be nice to everyone personally, I do have a few boundaries and place a lot of weight on fairness, I hate injustice. I also cannot abide cruelty to anything unable to defend itself. I do try and state my strong views professionally and without prejudice but sometimes that can come over as passive aggressive, I understand and own that. I can only try my best to be better. That’s all that we can do. 

Having gone through my own major anxieties this past year, I personally found that whilst I was trying to negotiate all of the fear and horrible thoughts I was having in my head, I didn’t have time for negatives elsewhere in my life. I cut them out. When going through trauma, It’s clear that, along with grief, your body only lets you handle so much. We have a built in way of being able to cope with what we can physically cope with and our body’s protect us from any more than that. How amazing are we?? 

I think the reason for this blog is to encourage everyone to really think about their actions. Don’t jump to the initial ‘shoot from the hip’ response. Maybe take time to sleep on it, consider it from another point of view. If you take the time, sometimes (not all of the time) you may find yourself being a bit more compassionate and could well end up helping someone through a tricky time in their life.