“Kindness costs nothing.”
We’ve all heard that phrase before and to some extent it is true. It doesn’t cost a penny to be nice to someone no matter the situation.
What about when you’re in pain? What about when you’ve suffered an injury that impacts your job? What about when a family member is unwell and you’re worried and helping them do the things they now can’t?
Usually kindness costs nothing, except energy. The energy to be a pleasant human is, under normal circumstances, quite natural to most people and you wouldn’t think twice about a smile, a thank you, a please. The energy to be nice is also often the first to be dropped when you are under a lot of pressure or stress, or have recieved bad news. In terms of pain, energy becomes a high-value-low-access commodity, a lesson I have recently been reminded of.
When met with someone you have perceived as rude, it is a good chance to exercise *your own* ability to be kind because you have no idea what that person is going through. It’s easy to react without thinking, when you’ve done nothing wrong and you’re in the line of fire it’s normal to feel defensive or be a little rude back. You may well be receiving the brunt of an exhausted mum of 2 going through a difficult divorce, or a man whose partner has recently passed. We often have the ability to choose how we react and this creates an opportunity for us to take one step back and show kindness to a person who may well need it the most.
I was going to write this from a different perspective, prompted by an experience with a patient where I needed to cancel their appointment last minute due to illness. That patient was quite blunt with me and appeared to not care I was unwell. At the time I was upset someone had seemed to show such little empathy, especially as I couldn’t predict I was going to be so sick.
I dwelled on this for 3 days because I’m quite a sensitive soul and I don’t like to upset people. I started looking at the situation from a different perspective: the patient. They were booked in to have their pain addressed, to feel better, they had waited for that appointment for a few days because I had no other available slots. They probably felt I’d wasted their time, too. They may have had something happening at the weekend they needed to be pain-free for, or perhaps they’ve not been able to work, maybe they’ve had covid recently and haven’t quite got back to feeling 100% before they picked up their new injury. I don’t know their exact situation but I could see why they would be frustrated and uninterested in my reason for cancellation.
As a person who lives with pain I know how long it takes to learn to put energy into being kind while in agony. My boyfriend can attest to both my restraint and to when I’ve run out of energy to do this (sorry, Harry!) It would be unreasonable to expect everyone to manage it at all times.
The moral of the story is that kindness costs energy and perspective is everything. If you possess the energy to be kind in response to someone else’s frustration then you should always practice kindness.
To my patients that I cancelled late that Friday after receiving my covid booster: I sincerely apologise, I’m pleased that each of you rebooked and I’m glad to have the opportunity to treat you when I was able to be the best, healthiest version of myself.