Fighting Parkinson’s, and being kind…to yourself

Prior to my recovery from Parkinson’s Disease, the only other person I had met who had Parkinson’s was my mother. She was one of the kindest, most giving people you ever would have had the pleasure of knowing…kind and giving to others…not herself. Over the last couple of years, I have met with, spoken to, Skyped with, and exchanged emails with, hundreds of people with Parkinson’s. You are some of the kindest and most giving people I have met…kind and giving to others…not yourselves. I was the same way. Part of this recovery is learning to be kind to yourself.

We tend to put additional pressure on ourselves to be better at everything than anybody else. It is that drive for the unattainable perfection that helped us bring our Parkinson’s symptoms to the surface in the first place…we are doing our absolute best, but we still feel it is not good enough. On the other hand, we are accepting, and kind, and giving to those around us who are doing their best and not being perfect. Something in our minds says, “It is okay for them to be less than perfect because I am going to be perfect enough for all of us.”

And, as a result of the expectation that we have to be perfect, we never stop thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking…our Adrenaline-mode mind does not stop. Because, to be perfect, we realize at some level that there are multiple exceptions that go to every rule, and there are multiple corollaries that go to every theorem, and there are multiple options that go with every choice…and we have to run them all down and solve them all, and they keep branching out into more exceptions and more corollaries and more options, and you can see where this cycle goes…it is endless.

For those of you without Parkinson’s, this scenario may seem strange and stressful. For those of you with Parkinson’s, I know many of you are reading this and thinking, “So, what’s your point. This is how things work, no big deal.” Here is my point: Thinking this way is a BIG DEAL! It cuts across all three causes of what brings Parkinson’s to the surface as diagnosable symptoms.

It causes anger and frustration and resentment and stress and anxiety because we simply cannot solve every problem and every scenario. First, we get angry at the situation, and second, we get angry at ourselves for being less than perfect and not “having all the answers.”

The anger and frustration and resentment and stress and anxiety make it difficult to eat properly and we suffer from dietary disaster. Solving all these problems becomes more important than what or when or how we eat.

We burn the candle at both ends and in he middle and our mind never stops thinking, which completely wears it down and upsets our bodies’ natural rhythms.

So, how do we reverse this mess? Begin by being kind to yourself.

How to begin the process of being kind to yourself:
1. Look in the mirror and say, “I am not perfect.” For many of you, I know this will take some courage and resolve. The rest of us will patiently wait while you go take care of this. It is that important!
2. Go back to the mirror and say, “I do not have to be perfect.”
3. I know, lots of time in the mirror — Go back to the mirror and say, “When I am doing my best, it IS good enough.” This one seems logical, but it is not. Many of you have told me, “I am doing my best, but I do not think it is good enough.” Your best is your best; you cannot do any better than that. Be kind to yourself and accept that if you are doing your best, it is the best you can do, and it is good enough.

That is the formula to being kind to yourself. When somebody else falls short of an accomplishment, we offer them compassion and comfort and say, “That’s okay, you did your best, you have nothing to be ashamed of. It just wasn’t meant to happen.” Being kind to yourself means offering yourself the exact same compassion and comfort you offer others in the same circumstances.

These are critical lessons if you want to be successful with the Recipe for Recovery and with your recovery. Here is why:
The Recipe is a soul, mind, and body recovery. If you do the body part (Qigong) and at the end, you say to yourself, “I did not do that Qigong perfectly or even good enough, so I probably will not recover,” you have moved backwards. Whatever benefit you have gained for the body is great, but your mind is in negative (self-beating) mode, and your soul is losing faith in recovery.

Be kind to yourself and turn this around:
At the conclusion of doing the Qigong, say to yourself, “In this moment of doing Qigong, I did the best possible Qigong that my Parkinson’s body would allow and I did great in moving forward with my recovery!” That attitude propels your mind with positive thinking, and it propels your soul with continuing faith and hope in your recovery.

There is nothing wrong with being kind to yourself. In fact, being kind to yourself will liberate you as you move forward on your path toward recovery.

So, while you are continuing to be kind to others, keep the happiness and joy and compassion alive by being kind to yourself.

You are worth it!!!

All my best,

Howard

 

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12 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and being kind…to yourself

  1. Linda says:

    This is a (ahem) perfect post, Howard. Thank you for your insights into the human condition in general and Parkinson’s in particular.

  2. Sally says:

    Thank you, Howard.
    A very valuable reminder.

  3. Christine says:

    Exactly what I most needed to read this morning. The fundamental point is that I don’t want to simply be free of PD; I want to be free. – Free and satisfied with my best, – accepting it as good enough. Thank you Howard for enlightening and encouraging again.

  4. Paul Busse says:

    Thank you Howard for reminding me to separate myself from my internal judge, my ego. For the first time in my life I realize I am much more than just my thoughts. I am worthy of being just me and I’m OK with that! Thank you Parkinson’s for stopping me long enough to begin to discover myself. I am so looking forward to filling my cup (my heart) till my cup runneth over.

  5. Howard, thank you once again for your timely insight and wisdom…. Paul, I’m treasuring the awareness your words bring as well…I, too, see the value Parkinson’s brings me…when my tremors are at their most persistent, there is usually some pretty vibrant negative mind chatter going on in my head….so PD invites me to notice that and process it with loving kindness. For me, there is always something beautiful and soul driven underneath if I’m willing to peel away the chatter….some longing for purpose or meaning perhaps…or maybe just a yearning to contribute in some way. If I live life connected to that instead of the chatter, I discover myself and I discover life (and calmness and decreasing tremors). It’s taking practice and persistence, but I’m slowly making headway…. thanks all for your sharing and your companionship on this journey….it’s quite wonderful to know I’m not alone…..

  6. Joe says:

    Thanks Howard for emphasizing that we need to be as kind to ourselves as we are to others and that our BEST IS good enough.

  7. Pat says:

    Very helpful post, Howard.
    I was trying to come up with something more profound to say, when I realized “there I go, trying to be perfect!” This is going to take me some time to digest… but I know I need to believe it on every level.

  8. Howard says:

    You are welcome. Thanks to all of you for sharing your insights and perspectives on this issue. It is wonderful that as you are recovering and sharing your recovery with all of us, others will be inspired to continue working on their recoveries as well. It truly helps people understand they are not alone in this fight against Parkinson’s…we all are in this life together and we fight together against this disease.
    With gratitude and blessings,
    Howard

  9. Margriet says:

    Dear all,
    I know the struggle all too well. To think that for years I believed it was a positive trait! Howard thanks for this important and encouraging post.
    I would like to share with you all a video message (http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability.html) and a book I found by Brené Brown (The Gifts of Imperfection). They have both been a great inspiration to let go of perfection and just embrace who I am. When I forget I watch and re-read them. It is wonderful to have you all out there and to know and understand. We will continue what we have to do until Parkinson is so fed up with us it will give up on us. We will be the stronger and win this battle. Hear hear to all of us!

    • Pat says:

      Margriet, Thanks for sharing the video clip of Brene Brown. She’s a very good speaker and shared some profound concepts that I found very helpful. It did tie in well with Howard’s post!

  10. Dipti says:

    I am Pratima’s daughter and I am here because I need to learn to be kind to myself too. I want to thank Bhai (brother) for all he does and for helping us all in so many different ways. I also want to thank Margriet for sharing the video clip of Brene Brown. To me it was one of the most profound and eye opening lesson. Especially after reading What Bhai said. I also want to add that everyone on here is a winner and I am proud of the courage you have shown and I know all of you will reach recoveryville. Love you all and God Bless.

  11. Pingback: Fighting Parkinson’s, and your survival guide for your recovery journey | Fighting Parkinson's Drug Free

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