Let’s Talk About…Humanity

As life gets faster, and more performance- and data-driven, let’s not lose grasp of all that’s human, natural and good, says Davina Greene.

Davina Greene is The Personal Strategy Coach. 
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Humanity – despite its relevance to every single second of our lives – can seem a fast-disappearing concept. If, that is, you believe the 24/7 media whirlwind in which we live. Despite the media’s doom- and scandal-orientation, I will always believe that there are as many good stories out there as bad, if not more. However, I believe even more strongly that our sense of humanity will only win out in the end if we keep firm focus on it. So let’s take this end-of-year opportunity to do just that.

In my experience, when discussing Humanity in a coaching context, we can veer into three themes: the recognition of the natural, desired ‘ways of being’ of humans (and comparison of that to the present workings of our world), our tendency towards self-care, and the positive living environment that humans have the opportunity to create for each other. Few of those have we mastered.

Are you, as a human, ‘on pause’ pending the end of some particular phase of your life, a phase after which you might begin to act like the human you think you could be? Why do I ask? Because so many that I speak to have, sadly, moved from a “Life begins at retirement” to a “Caring begins at retirement” philosophy. The ‘rat race’ has increased its market share of our humanity, perhaps, stealing not only our time but also our energy for thinking of others, or ourselves.

Do you ever feel like a robot – like someone has programmed you to do certain things, but you’ve no real clue why you’re doing them? Many people I meet are exhausted – physically exhausted from all of the running about that they do (some of it, indeed, “modern life”; some of it entirely self-inflicted) and mentally exhausted due to loss of hope, loss of faith in people, loss of the sense that life isn’t some kind of crazy, money-based competition. Loss of soul, I call it. Exhausted dealing with people who are “being themselves” and “not caring what anyone else thinks”, but who could have actually done with a bit of self-editing. Exhausted trying to set up their small businesses whilst having their spirits knocked by nasty social media comments. This is where Self-care becomes critical. Resources and advice on this are plentiful: use them.

Sadly, it can indeed be difficult to make humans treat each other well by default. Whether you look to decades-old experiments or even current scientific TV shows for evidence, many have demonstrated by now how easily the simple presence of a ‘man in a white coat’ (i.e. an authority figure) can lead us to continue to inflict pain on another person. Turn on the news and we see leaders around the world do the same to their populations. Read the history books and see how thousands of humans can easily become the evil tools of one man. Now, look to yourself: is there anything you do, as part of your work or personal life, that disappoints you when you look at it with some distance? Do you ever treat people poorly when they are not going fast enough, meeting exacting standards, fitting into your plans? So often, we (at times subconsciously) decide that it’s Other People who should be kinder, while we ourselves continue to cut corners on that concept and exert excessive, often unimportant, demands. As a result, at times, we relish it when people are removed from processes and our lives become faster, slicker, and undemanding of any social skills.

Remember, life is hard, for many – even for the well turned-out, solid-seeming people in your life. Ask any coach, any counsellor, any therapist…the people who deal with the true stories and tears when friends, family and colleagues aren’t looking. Especially as we glide into a new year, it seems a particularly appropriate time to reinforce this message and suggest that we all take a few minutes to think about how we could, perhaps, be a little more humane in our day-to-day endeavours.

However you view it, at the end of the day, nobody asked to be here. Everyone is muddling through and nobody needs any more hassle in their day-to-day lives than is absolutely necessary. Rage against the machine, if you must, but the nice person sitting beside you probably doesn’t need your ‘rage’ (or any other misdirected or ill-measured emotion). The people around you just want to be treated with kindness, fairness and calmness. As, I imagine, do you. How could that be a bad thing?

 

Key points

Consider how actively you seek to have a positive impact on other people

Consider how approachable you are. Do people tell you what’s going on in their world?

‘Do unto others’; allow people to be imperfect, just like you.

Make sure any ‘directness’ you employ is constructive, not cruel.

Is anyone in your circle struggling right now? How could you help?

Consider your positivity sources – where do you look for good news?

 

This article was first published in Irish Tatler magazine.