August 2, 2016

How Kindness Can Help Us Heal

Debbie's story is not an ordinary one. She is an advocate of a productive lifestyle, striving to give career women the tools to be healthy and stress-free. And she does this while being a survivor of a serious brain tumor. Her perspective on kindness is not only genuine and heartfelt, it's also invaluable--not just to us parents, but to anyone who's fighting a battle, or has been a warrior all their life.  Whether it's health related or otherwise, heed her advice on kindness: it can can help you heal! 
You’re a survivor of a serious brain tumor. How has your path to recovery changed your view point on kindness?
After months of limited activity (mainly compared to my lifestyle before surgery), my priorities changed. The idea of (self-)kindness as a way of life grew inside of me.

I learned the hard way the effects of stress and lack of self-love.* I made the decision that I was going to prevent that others went down the same way.

While at first self-kindness was the biggest lesson, going back to the roots of compassion and simple things played an important role in my inner-healing process, as well.

*Note: I don’t mean that stress was the cause of my tumor. Not even science can’t pinpoint its causes yet. However, my life quality was seriously damaged for a long time due to my neglecting myself as a human being and putting the “professional” above everything.

Who/what inspires you to be kind? Explain why they/it inspires you to do so.
My mother and her parents are role models of kindness to me.

In our home, everyone was equal and therefore, deserved the same portion of respect, love and attention.

If I had a friend over, we were always served together, no stars. I was always told how my attitude could make a difference and that everyone was supposed to do their part for the sake of life in society.
Love was the main drive of our actions and attitude.

It’s important to be kind to others, but it’s just as important to be kind to yourself. What do you do (or plan on doing) to be kind to yourself (as a professional or as a woman)?
I have a feeling that women in general have the tendency to put everyone before them. While it’s a beautiful and honorable thing to do, it should not be at the cost of their well-being.

It took me years to realize I could not solve everybody’s problems. (shocking, isn’t it? And I know I’m not alone)

It didn’t matter how many sleepless nights I had, how many meals I skipped or how overbooked I was, there were still things I couldn’t do despite all my best efforts.

Learning how to say “no” was the first step. I set up limits and made sure they were respected for my own sanity and to avoid creating unrealistic expectations.

The other thing was listening to my body. Instead of waiting until it shouted for help, I started to pay attention to its whispers. It was the difference between health and disease.

It’s often said that kindness is easier said than done. What valuable advice can you give to those who are struggling to be kind to others or to themselves?
There’s not a perfect form of “kindness”. Kindness is not a race with a finish line. It doesn’t have a pre-defined shape or form. It’s the manifestation of inner feelings hospitality towards others.

For some, it may represent opening their homes to a person in need, for others, it can be the donation of food or money. There’s also taking care of a sick relative or caring grocery bags for an elderly person.

Many times, a smile is the absolute form of kindness, and it costs nothing and requires nothing in return. Saying good-morning to people we meet is also a way.

Instead of looking for a standard way to express kindness, we must open ourselves to the (small) opportunities presented to us on a daily basis. When we do so, it’s not difficult at all.

What’s the most important lesson parents can give their children about kindness?  
Leading by example is THE lesson not only parents but adults in general can give the little ones.

Children are like sponges absorbing the environment around them. Words have a secondary importance to them. Behavior, on the other hand, is what truly serves as guideline for the formation of their personality.

Parents must start by being kind to themselves and showing their children it doesn’t imply neglecting them.

A mother who gets involved in regular physical activities, for example, cannot be considered egoist. In fact, she’s planting the seeds to a healthy adult in their children.

They can also teach kids how to:
    be kind to their peers
    see the planet as their home
    respect the environment around them
    aim for the best without the cost of others & develop self respect

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