Social distancing, fear and kindness
We’re a week into the strict measures to keep us all safe from Covid-19 and I’m beginning to get comfortable with social distancing.
At the start of the week it felt odd, and in opposition to my values, to actually walk further away from people as they walked past. It felt rude and unkind. A few days later I began feeling annoyance and frustration towards anyone I saw not obeying the rules. I’d get annoyed when a runner would be so close that I could feel the wind as they wooshed past. And when I noticed a dog walker who seemed to actively walk closer to people as she walked past them – I felt an urge to yell ‘that’s not 2 metres’ (but didn’t in case they judged me!). I also felt annoyed that it always seemed to be me who was moving out of the way – why can’t other people obey the rules?
Tucked up at home with a cup of tea, I took a moment to reflect on what was making me feel angry towards these rebellious rule breakers and I noticed that it came from a place of personal fear – I'm afraid I’ll get ill and because of that may mean I can’t see my family for months and I may not be able to help other members of my community, including my neighbour who lives alone and is self-isolating.
While I want to stay safe I don’t want all my walks to be filled with these thoughts and feelings so I was curious to see what I could take from a fab book I’m reading – the 5 side effects of kindness by Dr David Hamilton – and how I could apply his thoughts on kindness to social distancing.
One of Dr Hamilton's
points is that kindness can bring a smile to a person’s face but it also brings a smile to the face of the giver.
So I wondered what if when I cross the road to ‘avoid’ someone or step out of the way of a runner, I consciously think: ‘I’m doing this to keep you and me safe and well’. I tried this out on my short walk this morning – and not only did I think it, I smiled to the people I walked away from and some of them smiled back. All feelings and thoughts of annoyance were gone and replaced with kindness and thoughtfulness for others. Tomorrow, I may even try a wave as well as the smile.
As a professional coach it would be a pleasure to create space to help you understand your response to Covid-19 and to move towards kindness - let me know if I can help.