For most of us, the idea of being kind comes naturally and from a good place within ourselves. We may only think of kindness in general such as by saying “thank you” or “have a nice day,” but we can all agree there are many ways to show kindness. From paying it forward to holding the door open for the next person to come through, to donating time for a good cause or smiling at the person walking by. But let’s get more specific.
As a grandmother of a special needs child, mother to children with anxiety issues, and daughter to disabled parents, I see and feel the struggles of my loved ones in all areas of their lives. When we look at someone, we tend to see their disabilities instead of their abilities, and it’s time that changed.
As parents we teach our children to “not stare” at someone who is different physically; to not point out things or verbally criticize others for their differences. But what if we changed that to be inclusive instead of pretending it doesn’t exist? What if we chose to welcome differences in a conversational way? What if we taught our children and ourselves to ask questions in the proper manner instead of pretending we don’t see it at all?
The next time you see someone with special needs, teach yourself and your children to accept and learn the differences, the inabilities, and the abilities, and then get to know the person as a person. Just because someone has a disability doesn’t mean they’re unable. If we taught our children an autistic child is “different” but not “odd,” then maybe that child and humanity could grow to be more than we ever expected. That child could honestly blow your mind by their abilities that you failed to see due to the fear of coming across as judgmental instead of interested.
For adults we seem to go to work with a “let’s get this done so I can go home” attitude. We all want to get back to spending time with our families and be able to relax after a hard day. What we may be missing is a coworker may possibly see us as part of their family due to the lack of others in their life. We may be the one person who brings them joy or who they can rely on, or even the one who builds them up so they can live a more confident life.
It’s important for us to use kindness in different ways, whether it be in words or actions. It’s not always obvious what other people may see or feel, but if we make the extra effort to apply ourselves in a positive way, it surely will have an impact on others and the way we and they can enjoy life.
My hope is that no matter the ability, disability, color, orientation, or lack of awareness that separates us, one day we can say we did our best to eliminate what holds us back.
What kindness will you show the world today?
Mica Delatte is a freelance writer and owner of Thehivecooperative.com, a virtual assistant company