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How To Be Mindful of What Others Are Going Through

We never know what other people are going through on any given day. At the very least, we do know, everyone is living through a global pandemic that will have lasted over a year. We know people have made accommodations in order to work from home, learning an entire new set of skills to manage Zoom fatigue and boundaries. We know people wear masks everywhere to prevent themselves from harming themselves or others. We know life feels heavier now than it used to. 

Despite knowing all of the things listed above, we really don’t know what any individual struggles with or deals with on any given day. Because of social media we’re frequently confronted with a highlight reel of the positive things in people’s lives. We constantly see stories showing high productivity levels, happy relationships and motivating quotes. We’ve begun to see more honest memes, people discussing mental health or body image struggles, acknowledgements of abuse or unhealthy living situations, but they’re quickly overshadowed by another friend posting engagement photos. It’s often difficult to remember that there’s a store behind every post, many of which are not positive. Telling people, you’re struggling requires a unique form of vulnerability that social media is not conducive to. We, the viewer of other’s stories, the creator of stories ourselves, have to remember we are not aware of the whole story. We’re shielded from loss, mental health struggles, exhaustion, or pain the individual is feeling. 

When we’re feeling burnt out ourselves, it’s difficult to remain open-minded and understanding. It’s incredibly important to cultivate a mindset of non-judgment and compassion both towards ourselves and others. Below are some easy ways to facilitate this mindset. 

The first step, and a step beneficial in all aspects of mental health, is bringing awareness to our thoughts. It’s difficult to modify judgmental thoughts when we’re unaware we’re having them. When you scroll through social media, pause to ask yourself what you’re thinking about the posts and stories you see. When you notice yourself making assumptions or passing judgment consciously replace that thought with a compassionate one. Overtime, the more positive thought pattern will become the automatic one, and the negative thought pattern with dissipate. 

If you begin to notice a friend posting things that seem out of character, reach out to them. It’s easy to immediately assume something negative about the person without considering the cause of the change in behavior. Checking in on friends and asking them if they’re okay is a healthy practice to begin cultivating. We all want to be cared for and cared about. 

In today’s world we are always accessible via phone or social media. With that comes the expectation that people respond immediately. If they don’t respond immediately, we tend to think we’re being ignored or the person’s mad at us. However, it’s important to remember the person taking longer to respond likely has nothing to do with us. Simply functioning can be exhausting and many people need some space to prioritize self-care. Trust the person will respond when they feel capable. 

As briefly touched upon above, we all want to be cared for and cared about. Spreading kindness can completely change a person’s mood. Simply sending kind and caring text can transform someone’s perspective. We never know how much showing we care can do for someone. 

When talking about spreading kindness to others, we cannot forget about showing this same kindness to ourselves. It’s important to normalize feeling down, insecure or anxious especially during this trying time. When we’re not feeling great ourselves, it’s difficult to maintain feelings of compassion both internally and externally. Taking the time to check in with ourselves, practice a loving kindness meditation, engaging in activities we know make us feel good, and reaching out for help or support are necessities as we continue in this pandemic. 

Kindness facilitates kindness. Compassion facilitates compassion. We could all use a bit of both. 

If you’ve found yourself struggling to be compassionate or remain non-judgmental, it may be useful to try talking to a counselor. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled therapists today!

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