Inward thoughts.

Reflections on being gentle to yourself.

There are three reasons why I wrote this post. A post that runs across today and tomorrow.

Firstly, this post is inspired by love! The supreme love that I receive from my darling Jeannie and the love that I sense practically twenty-four hours a day that flows from the beautiful dogs that we have here. But also from the wonders of the rural world in which I live. From sights like the one below to being visited by wild deer every single morning when I go out to feed the horses.

The view from our bedroom window any cloudless morning. (This photo taken October 18th, 2015.)

The second reason for writing this post is a direct result of the love that flows in from so, so many of you precious readers. You are like one big online family that I live in. And, as one hopes to do within a family, from time to time you want to open up your inner feelings.

The third and final reason for this post is wanting to explore how one might find some peace from the chaos that seems to be spread so far and wide across this planet that we all call home.

It’s a very personal journey and I suggest that if this is not your ‘cup of tea’ that you call back another day!

OK! Now that’s off my chest, here we go!

Life’s beauty is inseparable from it’s fragility.

Pause awhile and just let those words float around your mind.

It is a quotation taken from a TED Talk that Jean and I watched a few days ago.

The speaker is Susan David and is described on that TED Talk page as follows:

Psychologist Susan David shares how the way we deal with our emotions shapes everything that matters: our actions, careers, relationships, health and happiness. In this deeply moving, humorous and potentially life-changing talk, she challenges a culture that prizes positivity over emotional truth and discusses the powerful strategies of emotional agility. A talk to share.
This talk was presented at an official TED conference, and was featured by our editors on the home page.

If you want to watch the talk it is a little over 16 minutes long and may be viewed on the TED Talk site here.

Let me return to that quotation. For there is no question that life, at whatever scale, from the personal to the global, is fragile. Fragile with a capital “F“!

Whether it’s the madness of our politics and governments, or nature presenting us with extreme hurricanes, volcanoes, earthquakes and floods, or the frustrations of life itself, especially when one is the wrong side of 65, or numerous other aspects of being human it’s terribly easy to become frustrated, or worse, with oneself.  I speak from a very personal perspective as my short-term recall is now pathetic!

STOP! (You see, I wrote the word “pathetic” without thinking. Demonstrating how  quickly I come down on myself. Without automatically and unconsciously being gentle on myself and being very grateful that this old Brit, born in 1944, is still able to string a few words together!)

One of the great, possibly the greatest, things that we can learn from our dogs is to be gentle on ourselves. So very often our dogs take time out to relax, to be happy and to spread their joy around the home. Look at the following photograph!

Oliver demonstrating the art of being very gentle on himself and on Pedi. (Picture taken November, 2015.)

Being gentle on yourself!

But for us humans that seems a great deal more easier to say than to practice!

Yet the argument for being gentle to yourself is compelling. And the first step in that personal journey towards being kinder to yourself is to be better aware of oneself when it comes to our emotions.

I shall be continuing this inward journey tomorrow but today, holding on to that idea of how we manage our emotions, I want to close with another TED Talk. Just 18 minutes long but invaluable to watch.

The talk is given by Professor Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD who is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University,and has positions in psychiatry and radiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School.

As I was reading the draft of this post it did cross my mind that you do know I write from a purely personal perspective. I hold no qualifications whatsoever in the fields of psychiatry, psychology or any related disciplines. If you have found yourself to be affected to the point where you think you need proper counselling then, please, do seek help.

Part Two coming along tomorrow!

41 thoughts on “Inward thoughts.

  1. I love when you share pictures of Oregon because I want to live there. Being gentle on myself is difficult. I drive myself hard & I don’t allow for mistakes. Forever on a quest to be better or stronger…it is exhausting. I wish I could just stop & breathe. Maybe someday I will learn.

    1. Dear Susan, dear, dear friend, how your feelings blossom out from your response. But you do know that a very large part of making personal changes is being able to recognise one’s need for change. So many deny that self-awareness. Have you come across Headspace? It’s an online meditation and relaxation ‘mentor’. I have just started using it but it is very well supported. (Val Boyko gives it the thumbs up!)

  2. Good post Paul with great topics.
    We need to be gentle to ourselves, otherwise we can’t expect others to be either. We get, what we send out, no matter it is only in our mind, why it also is so important to think and act kindly.

    1. Oh Irene, you encapsulate it in a nutshell. You fully understand the power of our own thoughts. How they influence how we act and behave even if we believe they are utterly private thoughts. Look at the way that our beloved dogs read our thoughts!

      Big hugs!

      1. Yes, our dogs and my cats are all great to read our minds, Paul. Just think, if our mood are a little down, how much they will do to make us smile again 🙂
        Wish both of you a lovely day.

    1. ….. possibly because somewhere in their past they experienced personally cruelty?

      But it’s a wild guess on my part because, likewise, Jeannie and I cannot understand people who are cruel.

      1. That’s what ‘experts’ say, but I would think any experience like that should drive the person in the opposite direction, given their personal experience.

  3. Thanks for the links to the two TED talks Paul. The first one by Susan David was especially good.
    Here are two further talks which I find very inspirational, the first about the beauty to be found in nature and appreciating what is around us, the second about finding meaning in our lives.

      1. Margaret, the second of those two talks we had already watched, but still a great talk, but the first was new to us and what a wonderful, inspiring talk it was. Thank you for sharing those!

  4. Love this Paul❣️ I know some of the background, and especially in connection to building Emotional Intelligence in leaders at work. (The work of Daniel Goleman) Mindful awareness is key here. We have to be able to notice, pause, and make a choice of how to respond.
    My favorite piece of wisdom is that anxiety and excitement have the same energy and response in the body. We can shift our mindset by tuning into the body and slowing our breath.
    Looking forward to tomorrow!

    1. Dear Val, so many times you encapsulate exactly the mood of what we should all be aiming for. As in with your sentence: “We have to be able to notice, pause, and make a choice of how to respond.” To which I would add that the ‘making the choice’ stuff comes from the best self-awareness one can achieve.

      I know that I have a fear of rejection that has its roots in what happened to me back in 1956. But that self-understanding didn’t come to the surface until many, many years later; 2007 to be exact. Only then did I understand why I behaved in certain ways at certain times and was then able to “… notice, pause, and make a choice ..”

      Thank you!

  5. Beautiful post. Reading it really brightened my day. I so enjoy seeing the beautiful pictures of where you live. It is so beautiful. Also the photos of your dogs are so nice to see. Dogs are such an amazing animal. They love us more then themselves. All they want is to hang out and spend time with us. Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post. 🙂

    1. Oh, that is so sweet of you to reply in such a kind and generous fashion. The older I get the more I see examples of the many things that bind us rather than separate us. Not just courtesy of this blog but in the world at large. Doesn’t make news headlines but so much more important to life nonetheless!

      Thank you!

  6. Yes they do teach us to be more gentle towards ourselves I agree, and dogs even teach us how to have more patience 💗

  7. Learning comes from going within and finding that space from which we need to love ourselves.. It took me so many years to reach inward and pull out that little girl that needed to be told she was loved.. And it had to come from myself.. For we hold onto so much hurt and wound ourselves with how we have perceived ourselves to be, from our childhood . We truly need to reach within and nurture ourselves..
    Which is why your dear beloved Dogs teach us.. For they hold no such traits as we humans do.. So they forgive in an instant, and hold love at their core.
    Happy to be reading this Paul
    😀

    1. So beautifully summarised, Sue. When one understands the scale of the benefits that flow from self-awareness it is so sad that so many live their lives missing out on these inner truths. In my own case, it was purely chance that opened that door for me.

      1. What is fate, but chances the Universe puts before us. 😀 It depends upon whether we accept our fate, or we create our own. Now there in is another conversation all together. 😉 Which is why I DREAM! 😀

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