I didn’t think something like this would affect me like it has, but my heart dropped when I read the headline that Caroline Flack had decided to end her life and was dead. Be Kind.
Why her, though? Why was it HER death that brought the nation to its knees and chanting “BE KIND” when we see hundreds, thousands of young people take their lives every year?
Caroline was a popular presenter, she appeared on many loved UK shows, won strictly and had many lovely friends in the media. The media were usually kind to her, they would offer to take aim at her love life and the fact “she couldn’t keep a man,” her taste for the younger guys, and the turmoil that came with her chosen mates. She was successful in all areas of her life except when it came to men, and the media ate it up with a spoon and asked for seconds. Gossip fodder, everyone and their granny interested who she was shacking up with, and they weren’t happy if it was going well, they wanted the juicy stuff, and then one day they got it.
One night, an argument happened between Caroline and her partner. Fights are standard, regular in relationships, and sometimes they can get pretty heated. I am sure we have all been there; when so much love, passion, and angry mix, it can cause some explosion. Caroline made a mistake; one had haunted her till the end of her life – she hit her partner in a moment of anger. I don’t condone violence, she shouldn’t have done it, I believe she regretted it as soon as the lamp left her hands.
Everyone soon had their say about the situation, her dirty laundry splashed across every kind of sharing media. She has nowhere to hide, she had done something wrong, and we were not going to let her forget about it.
She was forced to step back from presenting Love Island’s winter show and became a tabloid target. Her career looked as if it might have been over.
And now, harrowingly, there’s this – the kind of news that is tragic and stomach-churning but also anger-inducing. A few months ago, Flack had a bright future. Now she joins the list of young women hounded relentlessly by the media during a time of crisis, which seems to have become too much for her to cope with. The sadness of her death was surpassed only by the sadness of her situation and the isolation we experienced. I wondered whether her loneliness was a driving force of her premature death and not just an unhappy circumstance.
You might hope lessons will be learned from this – that we should think again about how we treat those in the public eye going through crises; that the press should reflect on coverage so intrusive that some outlets are busy deleting their own articles since her death; that we should all perhaps listen to the words on one of Flack’s final social media posts: “In a world where we can be anything, be kind.” Past experience suggests that this is all, sadly, wishful thinking.
Our sincere desire to belong, coupled with our fear of rejection, can trigger our vulnerability and override our better judgment. Sometimes it may only be that we let an issue fester with a colleague at work rather than addressing it. But the closer the relationship, the higher the stakes and the steeper the toll on our happiness. We know that many people feel powerless when they encounter bullying in the workplace, even when they aren’t. Likewise, a quick glance at domestic violence statistics reveals how many people – both women and men – choose to stay in abusive relationships for years because they are too afraid to leave. Fearful of what they will have to give up – security, social status, or the comfort of the familiar. Fearful of being alone.
In the last few years, life seems to have more stress and a stronger feeling of inadequacy. Modern life and society are slowly consuming our souls and deteriorating our health. Anxiety disorders are pervasive.
In a survey covering Great Britain, 1 in 6 adults had experienced some form of ‘neurotic health problem’ in the previous week. The most common neurotic disorders were anxiety and depressive disorders. More than 1 in 10 people are likely to have a ‘disabling anxiety disorder’ at some stage in their life. An estimated 13% of the adult population will develop a specific form of anxiety known as a phobia at some point in their life. Large scale studies have suggested that around 2.5% of people are likely to experience OCD at some point in their life. (https://www.anxietyuk.org.uk/)
Despite figures like this, we continue to act as though the way we are living is totally normal, and the direction in which we are moving as a society is a positive one.
What we are doing is entirely unnatural. Humans were not supposed to act like this. We were not supposed to be stuck into offices, slave away our time for money, to be able to live an unsatisfying and completely ridiculous life.
We eat, we sleep, work, we check social media, we repeat … without realising that it isn’t real and ultimately unsatisfying.
While you may never have found yourself in a situation as extreme as this, there’s a lesson here for us all: Not believing in our own innate worthiness can cause us to settle for far less than we want, need, or deserve. At home. At work. In business. In life. It also affirms the truth in the adage: you teach people how to treat you. Be Kind
Whatever the current state of your personal or professional relationships, take a moment to consider where you sometimes stay silent rather than speaking up to make a stand for yourself. Or where you tolerate being treated in ways that leave you hurt, frustrated, resentful, or undervalued. It may not seem like a big deal, but over time, we teach people how to treat us. It’s why bullies prey on those they can get away with bullying. In the end, we understand what we tolerate. Be Kind.
So, own your worth. Speak your truth. Treat others with respect and refuse to tolerate being treated with anything less yourself.