Choosing kindness | Fatima Almheiri - GulfToday

Choosing kindness

Fatima Almheiri

Fatima has always been passionate about mental health. She has a Bachelors in International Studies with a minor in Psychology. She joined the With Hope UAE volunteer group in 2019 and she is currently head of communications.

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The photo has been used for illustrative purposes.

Kindness is one of human’s most important social virtues. Kindness is not just a feeling, but rather an action that signifies strength.

It involves adding warmth and value to somebody without expecting anything in return and it can present in something as small as a warm smile during a social exchange.

If we can learn how to be kind to ourselves and others, it can potentially transform our lives. So how does this virtue relate to mental well-being? Why am I even writing about kindness when it comes to my experience in advocating for mental health?

My journey for advocacy started solely as a gesture of empathy and compassion to those struggling around me. I was looking for ways to make them feel heard, validate their experiences and feelings and most importantly, make them feel supported. Through kindness, I found not only those around me feeling some form of relief, but also a significant enhancement in my own mental well-being. This is how I learned that kindness improves our quality of life and our meaningful relationships. When feeling alone, overwhelmed, or lacking support, kindness can be one way to get through those feelings as it enhances positivity. Facing negative emotions is inevitable, but kindness, empathy, and compassion are tools we can use to help ourselves and others overcome these battles.

In general, we all are born with a kindness or compassion instinct. Research has shown that kindness increases well-being, our sense of belonging, and our self-esteem. When we are kind to ourselves, it can prevent us from feeling ashamed and from deteriorating our own sense of identity, thus it boosts our self-esteem.

Research has also shown that kindness decreases isolation and stress. It has the ability to deepen relationships and add positivity to our lives. We have the ability to show ourselves the kindness we crave from others by engaging in self-compassion.

Self-compassion is vital if we want to learn how to be kinder to ourselves. It involves treating yourself with understanding, realising you are not alone, and holding your negative experiences as a separate unit, not as your identity.

Self-compassion can help you become more resilient and optimistic while reducing excessive negative rumination.

One tool we can use to enhance kindness and compassion is loving-kindness meditation. For this type of meditation, you start by closing your eyes and imagining someone you love and silently repeat the following:

“May you feel safe. May you feel happy. May you feel healthy. May you live with ease.”

Then think of yourself:

“May I feel safe. May I feel happy. May I feel healthy. May I live with ease.”

Other tips to increase kindness include writing letters to yourself or others, writing a compliment list about yourself, or even just asking someone how they are and actively listen.

Bringing that into our consciousness, the gift of kindness, can immensely aid in our self-betterment while helping others. So, if you are ever faced with a difficult situation, one choice you can always make is the choice to be kind.

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