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Love is all around… maybe

older couple kissing

As the famous holiday movie tells us to do, whenever we get gloomy about the state of the world, think about the arrivals gate at the airport. You’ll see people hugging, kissing, crying and laughing. If you look for it -  love, compassion and kindness are certainly there. But why do we need to look for it? Why is it so hard to find? And if it feels so good to be kind and receive compassion, then why don’t we have more of it in our lives? And why can’t we show ourselves kindness? 

Lindsay Killam Clinical Director for Counselling services at TELUS Health MyCare kindly took time out of her day to sit down with us and give all the details on kindness and compassion including how to give it, receive it and give it to ourselves. 

Why do you think we are lacking in compassion in today's society?

As a society we are still recovering from the pandemic and not just from a mental and physical health perspective but financially and socially as well. In this world of inflation, rising costs and general instability everyone's patience is running thin. We don’t just see love and compassion at airports but fights between two customers and yelling matches at people working in customer service. In a nutshell, the world can be a scary place these days. And that can bring people down and make them feel negative. Negativity does not breed compassion or kindness, it fuels the opposite. Which is often a lack of patience and intolerance for what another person is experiencing. 

Speaking of negative places, Lindsay tells us that while social media has offered an amazing outlet to access information and connect with others, it also has a darker side.  

“The use of social media has an inherent problem with isolating and objectifying others.  A person or an image on a screen is not the same experience as being in physical proximity with another person or being a part of a situation or event.”  - Killam 

There was a time before social media where healthy debates were held in town halls. You might have disagreed with someone but you were in a social environment where you had to listen and try to understand. Now, debates take place behind the screens where people can say whatever they want without seeing how it makes another person feel. There’s no empathy for another person when we are just judging them or objectifying them behind our phones, and there’s certainly no compassion. 

We are social beings and need to experience life with others to fuel feelings of empathy, to feel that we are a part of something, and to feel impact, Linsday explains. We can’t just sit behind the screens, we need to come out from behind them. In order to get that indescribable feeling that you matter, others matter and what we say matters we need to be in front of people.

What ways can we show compassion and kindness to someone in an authentic way? 

The age-old saying “put yourself in my shoes” is a classic for a reason. Lindsay says it’s the simplest way to access a feeling of compassion. Sometimes when we are in an argument with a partner or are upset with customer service because your flight is cancelled (that’s the worst) we have a tendency to get caught up in the moment. But, these are opportunities where you can set an example by showing some kindness. Take a deep breath, think before you act and imagine how your partner or that person is feeling. Then respond. 

“When we can sense how something difficult would feel then we can respond with the kindness and compassion that we would want to experience in that situation.” Killam 

Now, that doesn’t mean you are going to get kindness in return or you're going to get the results you want. And there’s a fine line between being kind and being a pushover. But you can act with kindness in these situations, even when they are heated. And more often than not when you approach a situation with kindness and compassion, people really appreciate it and both parties can walk away from the situation feeling better than when they came in. 

How can we support people who need some compassion and kindness? 

Compassion and kindness are about recognizing another person’s struggle or distress.  When everyone's comments are criticized online we are often worried about saying the wrong thing and it can prevent us from saying anything at all.  

“There are no right or perfect words, most often it is the intention that gives others comfort.”  - Killam 

Lindsay tells us when we are offering compassion or kindness to try and avoid judgment. Whatever the other person is going through, it isn’t up to you to evaluate. It’s up to you to listen and respond with compassion. It’s also best to avoid giving advice unless it is asked for, which is easier said than done for us problem solvers out there. When someone is hurting, we just want to fix it and make them feel better but advice without request can feel intrusive and may prevent an opportunity to gain connection. Instead use phrases like, “I imagine that…” or “It seems like…”.  These phrases demonstrate an effort to understand, curiosity, and provide an opportunity for the other person to respond or simply sit with it. 

Why is showing kindness and compassion to ourselves hard?

Would you say what you say to yourself to another person? No, probably not. And that’s because what we say to ourselves is often downright cruel. It is easier to show compassion and kindness to others than it is to give to ourselves.  

Our whole lives we’ve been hit with messages or judgments from others - whether through the media or even worse from people we care about. This can perpetuate negative beliefs and interfere with how we see ourselves.  If there was a playlist for our inner monologue it would be called “the negative poets society” and it’s always playing giving us a steady stream of untrue negativity. 

“More often than not that inner monologue is flooding us with negative thoughts like “I am not good enough”, “I can't do this” or “ nobody cares”.” - Killiam 

We can’t control how others treat us and we can’t completely stop the inner monologue. But we can still press pause and access kindness towards ourselves. 

Take a step back, take a breath and ask yourself, “If a friend shared a similar thought or experience with me what would I say to them?”  Odds are we would be sympathetic, empathic, and nonjudgmental towards that friend. Think about how you treat your most cherished person in your life when they need kindness. Reflect on how we would be with that person and try to turn that compassion towards you. 

If you are finding it hard to give yourself some kindness and compassion we’ve made it a little easier. From May 1 to May 31, get one counselling appointment for $95 (regular price $120). Enter the applicable codes at checkout in the application:


And try to remember, you deserve kindness and compassion and the best way to get it is to give it to yourself. 

Users must be 16 years or older to access counselling appointments. Counselling appointments require additional payment of $120 plus applicable taxes. Any payments for appointments must be paid using a valid credit card. An in-app receipt will be provided for you to claim for reimbursement if applicable.