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  • Writer's pictureDave Hill

Three words that help foster wellbeing: compassion, empathy and understanding

Updated: May 12, 2022


I write infrequently, but wish I wrote more. Thankfully, I’ve learned to be compassionate with myself so I don’t beat myself up about it… but what lead me to put pen to paper today?

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week and I have been invited to do a couple of talks at work: one for Standard Life Aberdeen’s “Mind Matters” mental health network, and the other to some members of the Civil Service working for the Scottish Government. For ease I picked a topic that I hoped would suit both and decided I had better do a little prep. Oh, the title of the talks I’m giving is “The simplicity behind creativity, productivity and mental wellbeing”… fingers crossed!

As part of my prep I decided to read a book that has been on my shelf for a while – “TED Talks, The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking”. While I’ve done a little public speaking in my time, I thought it might be worth having a listen to what experts have to say… especially as I’m a big TED fan.

Truth be told it didn’t teach me much, but it confirmed some ideas I’ve had for some time. However, what I loved about it was the examples the TED Team have pulled out to highlight some of their points.

One that caught my eye was by Monica Lewinsky called the “Price of Shame”, as the book discussed the gut-wrenching nerves that can sometimes grip you when you have to stand up in front of others, and something that I have wrestled with in the past. I wouldn’t have sought the talk based on it’s subject, or Monica as a speaker, as I thought I understood all there was to know about her story, but it caught my attention, and last night I sat down to watch it.

In her talk Monica discusses the effect that being publicly ridiculed for making a mistake can have on an individual’s life. How shame has become something that sells products and scarily, how it also drives some to take their lives as a result. However. Despite her back story. Despite the preconceptions that those of us that know her story made based on what we read, or where shown in the media. Despite being terrified of standing on that stage in front of thousands in the room and the millions online. Monica stood up and made her point with eloquence, passion and a desire to end the pursuit to publicly shame people in an effort to make money from advertising revenues.

Shockingly, I realised that I had made a judgement back in the late ‘90s about Monica Lewinsky and pigeonholed her. I had not taken any time to consider the effects the story had on her or her family. I thought I understood all there was to know… how wrong could I be!

Monica’s closing plea was for all of us to try and live with more compassion and empathy for each other. Not only for those we love and care about, but also for those we meet in the street. We have no idea what is going on in someone else’s world and we should try not to judge them based on what we read, hear or watch… there is always more to the story than we are ever told.

Look out for each other and take the time to understand each other’s point of view.

Take care and remember mental wellbeing is an all year sport; not just for Mental Health Awareness Week.

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