Why kindness and connection are important to mental health

John-Paul Davies

John-Paul Davies

UKCP psychotherapist John-Paul Davies is a UKCP Transpersonal psychotherapist and author of personal development book “Finding a Balanced Connection” now available on Amazon.

One of the main reasons we’re all unfortunately hardwired to struggle as human beings is that two of our central needs often disconnect us from ourselves and others: our safety needs and our reward needs. Safety needs view everything and everyone with a problem-focus while reward needs can cause disconnecting comparisons, competitiveness and feelings of dissatisfaction and frustration. In fact, much of what people bring to therapy – including anxiety, depression, chronic anger, narcissism, addiction, procrastination and stress – can all be seen as both causing and caused by this disconnection. 

When we feel connected, on the other hand, we feel safe, rewarded, alive and fulfilled. Life has meaning and purpose. Whether it’s to ourselves, trusted others, pets, groups, communities, nature or the environment around us, establishing and maintaining connection - which includes the quality of kindness both as its cause and its result - is fundamental to maintaining good mental and physical health. 


How can a psychotherapist help someone looking for connection?

To add to our biological tendency to do so, many of us also often disconnect easily due to our childhood experiences in relationships. These can include adverse incidents that happened to us, as well as a lack of genuine love and connection during that time. Because it was relationships that led to these difficulties, if we’re going to be able to connect more later on, we have to experience the quality of relationship we initially needed. 

Good therapy holds the very real potential for such a reparative relationship. The experience of being truly heard and listened to, of trusting someone enough to be vulnerable and say the previously unsayable will help with connection in all areas of life.   

Connection often requires conscious and consistent effort before it becomes the norm and each of its facets can be looked at in therapy. We can focus on how to improve connection with ourselves - including our thoughts, values, beliefs, self-image, body, feelings and behaviours - and with others by exploring areas like boundaries, communication and how we express love and resolve conflict. Looking at the client/therapist relationship itself in real-time can also be valuable here. 

If you’re interested in exploring therapy, then visit our website for helpful advice for those looking for an accredited and registered therapist.


Don’t hold on to the wrong connections 

It’s important to remember that nurturing connection and kindness doesn’t mean having to remain connected with others to our detriment. For good reason, our safety needs will be sceptical about striving for connection and kindness with everyone at all times. We all know there are people who are better left untrusted. In fact, disconnecting from another might be the kindest thing we do for ourselves and therapy can be a great place to explore this too. 


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