The kindness that often gets forgotten

The kindness that often gets forgotten – Dr Emma Kell

The kindness that often gets forgotten

 I wrote the blog I needed to read today.

This blog comes to you through a haze of aches, rasps, and drips. It’s Sunday, and the week ahead promises another flurry of exciting projects and pursuits, each represented in brightly coloured notebooks and colour-coded slots in the diary. Each one is high-stakes and requires focus and challenge – each one aims to bring joy, reassurance, or growth to me and those I come into contact with.

But boy, am I rancid today. I’ve sat here to harness it all in preparation for the week ahead, and I want to put my head on the desk and sleep. The urge to plunge into pure panic on merely contemplating writing the to-do list was powerful, and there were nearly helpless tears. The kids’ school uniforms aren’t yet washed, the dog hasn’t been walked, and the house is a tip. ‘It’s all a disaster!’ the gremlins start to mock and shout.

Then I reached out to a couple of wise and kind people to tell them how I was feeling, and they reminded me of what matters; that, without our health, we have nothing. I took a deep breath and accepted a cup of tea from my husband. I asked myself some really important questions about what is urgent and essential to the turning of this precious world, and the answers were reassuring. I’ve let some people know projects might be delayed, and they’ve been nothing but understanding. I’ve moved some of those brightly coloured diary slots further down the line when I’m likely feeling stronger. I’ve called in some reinforcements. ‘Please could you help me?’ is one of the most challenging but powerful questions. My husband’s been out for painkillers and lemons, and the kids have stepped up and loaded the dishwasher. The sun is shining, and the dog is content, emptying my plant pots into the once-lovely garden.

I am surrounded by kindness every single day. People are willing to go the extra mile – and more – for those in their care. People who will drop everything for someone else in need and shelve their own needs and desires to fulfil their sense of moral purpose. And this is awe-inspiring and humbling and lights my world every single day.

But we are all human; being human is sometimes sick, anxious, or scared. And when we are vulnerable, we must show ourselves kindness by reminding ourselves that it’s ok to put down the heavy load until we feel stronger. Someone else will help us carry it that extra mile, or it can wait somewhere safe until we’re ready to pick it up again.

When I feel overwhelmed and stressed, I often remind myself of this powerful quote from Oliver Burkeman’s Four Thousand Weeks:

Technically, it’s irrational to feel troubled by an overwhelming to-do list. You’ll do what you can, you won’t do what you can’t, and the tyrannical inner voice insisting that you must do everything is mistaken.

This evening, I will rest.

Dr Emma Kell FCCT

Twitter @thosethatcan


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