More inward thoughts.

Each of us must care and love ourselves before we can love others.

(Apologies if this post rambles around a bit!)

Dr. Kristin Neff, Ph.D. is widely recognized as one of the world’s leading experts on self-compassion. Dr. Neff has a website over at Self-Compassion.org. If you go to that site you will quickly read (And while I have copied and pasted it 100% as found on that webpage, I have modified the layout to make it easier to read from a visual point-of-view.):

Definition of Self-Compassion:

Having compassion for oneself is really no different than having compassion for others. Think about what the experience of compassion feels like.

First, to have compassion for others you must notice that they are suffering. If you ignore that homeless person on the street, you can’t feel compassion for how difficult his or her experience is.

Second, compassion involves feeling moved by others’ suffering so that your heart responds to their pain (the word compassion literally means to “suffer with”). When this occurs, you feel warmth, caring, and the desire to help the suffering person in some way. Having compassion also means that you offer understanding and kindness to others when they fail or make mistakes, rather than judging them harshly.

Finally, when you feel compassion for another (rather than mere pity), it means that you realize that suffering, failure, and imperfection is part of the shared human experience. “There but for fortune go I.”

Self-compassion involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a “stiff upper lip” mentality, you stop to tell yourself “this is really difficult right now,” how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?

Instead of mercilessly judging and criticizing yourself for various inadequacies or shortcomings, self-compassion means you are kind and understanding when confronted with personal failings – after all, who ever said you were supposed to be perfect?

You may try to change in ways that allow you to be more healthy and happy, but this is done because you care about yourself, not because you are worthless or unacceptable as you are. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life.

Let me highlight a small section from this:

….having compassion for yourself means that you honor and accept your humanness. Things will not always go the way you want them to. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us.

This is the human condition; whatever one’s gender, status in life or age!

Moving on.

There is no question that I learnt something from my cycling accident last November 22nd and my subsequent emergency admission to hospital for sub-dural bleeding on December 24th. Something that I would not otherwise have understood so clearly and so starkly.

The remarkable power of the brain to heal itself; albeit very slowly compared with some minor physical injuries.

The BBC science series Horizon broadcast earlier this year the story of ‘Richard’. The full title was My Amazing Brain: Richard’s War.

Horizon follows the story of Richard Gray and his remarkable recovery from a life-changing, catastrophic stroke. Recorded by his documentary film-maker wife Fiona over four years, this film provides a rare account of the hard work that goes into post-stroke rehabilitation.

Initially bed bound and unable to do anything, including speak, the initial outlook was bleak, yet occasionally small glimmers of hope emerged. Armed always with her camera, Fiona captures the moment Richard moves his fingers for the first time, and then over months she documents his struggle to relearn how to walk again.

The story also features poignant footage delivered in a series of flashbacks, in which we see and hear Richard at his professional best. He was a peacekeeper with the United Nations, immersed in the brutal war in Sarajevo, Bosnia. We also hear from the surgeons and clinicians who were integral to Richard’s remarkable recovery, from describing life-saving, high-risk reconstructive surgery to intensive rehabilitation programmes that push the former soldier to his limits.

As the film starts, Fiona asks ‘will Richard, my Richard still be there?’ By the end the answer is clear.

Unfortunately unless you are in the UK it is not possible to watch the programme.

But Fiona, Richard’s wife, has produced a YouTube video. It so much deserves to be watched:

Moving on, yet again.

I am of no doubt that most, if not all, of us at some point in our lives wonder what on earth is the point in what we are doing or where we are at the stage in our own life’s journey. Certainly has applied to me in the past.

Frequently when we are a bit lost as to where on earth we are heading it helps enormously to hang on the shirt-tails of others.

Professor Clayton Christiansen has some really fabulous shirt-tails. For now just watch his presentation given at TEDx

“It’s actually really important that you succeed at what you’re succeeding at, but that isn’t going to be the measure of your life.”

For a slightly different perspective, watch Adam Leipzig.

Being human means a journey from birth through maturity and thence to death. It is likely that the last phase generates the greatest fear for us. But let’s not dwell on that for now!

Because I want to close my introspective journey by returning to self-compassion.

Or rather for our compassion for this beautiful planet that is the one and only home we have.

Dear Carl Sagan sums it up as perfectly as one could ever ask for.

Alright folks! I’m through!

Must go and hug a dog! (Or, more accurately, a dog memory!)

TIMOTHY BULLARD/Daily CourierPaul Handover with Pharaoh, a 12 year-old German Shepard that he uses on the cover of his new book about man’s best friend.

Tomorrow a clutch of dog recall advisories that have come in recently!

As they say a change is as good as a rest!

Once again I must say that 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.

25 thoughts on “More inward thoughts.

  1. A lot of food for thought. Your accident has unsurprisingly prompted you to ask a lot of questions about life and you. I went through a similar thing when I developed PTSD and had burn out. I am not so sure that I am so good at the self-compassion, so thank you for that thought.

    1. Trust me, Emma, this is a steep learning curve for me. But one that I want to stay with. For the simple reason that the alternative means ending my life as a miserable, disappointed old fart, as we say in the old country, knowing that I failed both Jeannie and myself.
      So, please, join me in becoming very gentle on yourself! ❤️

      1. Well, I went to a yoga class for the first time in 5 years this morning, which was quite a treat, so I think that’s a step in the right direction!

      2. Well done! All of us must never stop examining our own lives, in terms of what is or is not working, towards the goal of looking after ourselves in the best possible way.

        Reminds me to dig up stuff that Edward De Bono used to teach back when I was an employee of IBM UK Ltd.

        Big hugs!

  2. Beautiful truths, Paul 🙂
    I suppose, that you also got a wake-up call, when you went to ICU or more correctly after. Even I thought, that I was awake in many ways, I have found out, that I have even more questions, as I do ask myself about.
    Self compassion is so good, but more easy to talk about than doing. Thanks for the reminder.
    I hope, that you are feeling a little better day by day.

  3. First video:
    incredibly painful to watch. Repetitive muzak, illegible text (contrast issues). I gave up halfway through.
    Second video:
    Clayton Christensen isn’t exactly a charismatic speaker. I found him quite hard to watch, but I persevered. His ‘first’ message went straight over my head; I only recognised that he had had a first message when he started talking about his ‘second’ message (that one is measured by the lives one has touched). Awkward.
    Third video:
    Adam Leipzig’s main message was pretty clear: those whose aim is to satisfy others are happier. He made me realise that I have no idea what my ‘life purpose’ is, though :/
    Fourth video:
    As you say, Carl Sagan sums it all up perfectly 🙂

  4. I didn’t get to watch all of the videos but got enough of their message to see how they linked and followed through. I can only tell the tale of how I discovered a simple truth, once I began to understand and forgive myself for not being perfect, so much fell into place. I embraced my simple nature, basically that I love dogs always have and always will, and that working with them puts a huge smile on my face. Through them, I met Ellie (a spunky collie cross husky) who pulled and nudged me into her life purpose to search and recover or search and rescue those missing.
    We have been on 14 call outs and on each one of them I learned more about my ability as a human being. I also learned more about the human heart and yes, compassion is at the center of most things, the lack of it often is the reason why we are on a call out. Today’s world dwells, demands on perfection too much.

    1. Dear Maria, that really is the core message of all time. Indeed, the original and continuing motivation behind me writing this blog: Dogs are creatures of integrity and us humans have much to learn from them!

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and feelings.

  5. Paul, You had me at Kristen Neff and Carl Sagan 💛. Carl, because he opened my eyes to see the universe in tact wonder, and our tiny perspective of who we are in it. Kristen, because of her constant loving message of self compassion and being our own best friend.. no matter what our parents lacked.. Her research is bringing awarenes to the Loving Kindness message from Buddishm and making it practical and applicable to our every day lives. I am such a fan of both of them.
    Embrace it all Paul 💕🙏💕

    1. Thank you, Val. There seems to be so much going on, emotionally speaking, as Jeannie and I face up to the inevitability of this stage of our lives. I have no doubt that it will slip into future posts because it seems something that needs to be shared. Being as content and happy as most dogs are in their ‘senior’ years is a great ambition.

      1. Keep appreciating the moments Paul. Just like the old dog that finds bliss in the sun coming in the window. They know there is no better place to be 😊

  6. Very powerful and moving Paul.
    And I think we all of us have our various trigger points in life which wake us up to certain realities. And I am sure each of us are brought to that point to reach inward as we seek meaning to our lives.
    Mine happened in the 90’s and the road of discovery has led me to many more stages I was meant to find..
    Now each day is a blessing, And when we learn to live from our hearts, the world around us changes for we begin to see it from a different perspective..
    Thank you for sharing Paul..
    And continued Healing thoughts to you both for your well being..
    Much LOVE..
    Sue ❤

      1. Yes, sadly some will not.. We are all at various points on our journey.. Some come to wake us up to ourselves, so who is to say those whose lives still reside in shadow is any less important.. For the shadows show us where we need more Light and love in the world.. We are all of us works in progress.

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