Fighting Parkinson’s, and kindness, compassion, and Thanksgiving

Congratulations — you are two-thirds into the November to Remember, No Excuses November, 30-day challenge to do the scaled-down version of the Parkinson’s Recipe for Recovery™. Also, here in the States, we are preparing for Thanksgiving in a couple of days. For many, it will be a time for seeing relatives and friends. There is much for which to be thankful, and I feel we all know this. However, a big part of making this Thanksgiving holiday wonderful and memorable, is the addition of one ingredient you do not eat…compassion…for others and yourself.

I feel that is a good time to revisit this issue and have re-posted here the critical information from former posts on this issue:

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 do 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.

When others ask to assist you with preparing your Thanksgiving holiday, be compassionate to them, smile a big smile, and say “Yes, I would love your help.” By doing this, you allow them to feel good about being able to do something for you. However, prior to doing this, you need to find compassion for yourself and your situation with Parkinson’s. Otherwise, you either do not accept the help you need or the person feels badly in helping you because you are feeling badly about yourself…and it shows.

So, please feel compassion for yourself and graciously accept whatever assistance you are being offered. Oh, yes, that feeling you get inside when you do this is your heart opening and your Dopamine flowing. That is why it feels so good.

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,



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12 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and kindness, compassion, and Thanksgiving

  1. Thank you once again, Howard, for this insightful, inspirational and important message.

    I couldn’t agree with you more and own that I have been caught in the perfectionist trap more often than I can count. And yet, even as I recognize that fact, it is important to be gentle with myself (yes, there I am again and isn’t it wonderful that I’m catching it…instead of will I ever learn!). It can be a tough and wonderful slog (after all, many of us are socially conditioned to think that such self-kindness is selfish and even wrong)…. But I remind myself that unless I am compassionate, loving and kind with myself, it is impossible for me to be fully kind, compassionate and loving with others…. because repressed anger, fear and resentment often creeps in when I’m running on empty. So I remind myself that as I love, serve and care for myself, I love, serve and care for the world.

    • Howard says:

      You are welcome, Penny.

      And, thank you for inspiring us all as you share your peaks and valleys. Your words are so eloquent, “So I remind myself that as I love, serve and care for myself, I love, serve and care for the world.” Your words are so true.


  2. Angela DiNardo says:

    I am present to what comes my way in love and kindness

    I am doing my best with what is here…

    And yes it is all God good enough!

    Thank you for all your support and words of encouragement!

    Happy Thanksgiving! To All!



  3. nancy thomas says:

    Thank you, Howard, and everyone else. I’m truly thankful to be part of such a wonderful group, and I know we are all on the journey of our lives!

  4. Laurie Diaz says:

    Thank you Howard, for theThanksgiving reminder to love myself. …Especially by not being a perfectionist. Today’s project was a case in point. I printed some photos from Facebook, ignored the stray pencil marks, the bent corners, the off-center…blah, blah blah. The outcome was great and I love myself for getting it done!!! Penny, Angela and Nancy – you are great cheer leaders. Happy Thanksgiving – I thank God for you all. Laurie

    • Howard says:

      You are welcome, Laurie.
      Good for you! I am so happy to see that you were able to push perfectionism to the side and allow yourself to blossom…to open your heart to yourself is quite beautiful. This is wonderful.

  5. bhavna says:

    thank you so so much Howard for showing me the way of loving myself and helping me to get out of the mess i am in.
    i am sure if Parkinson patients can be successful with recipe for recovery why cant
    I remind myself that as I love, serve and care for myself, I love, serve and care for the world. thanks penny .
    Happy Thanksgiving to all.
    and a special thank you to god for sending Howard to us

    • Howard says:

      You are welcome, Bhavna.
      As many people can attest, when we spend our time caring only about others, we tend to neglect caring about ourselves. Your hard work with your mom and always putting your mom first helped bring Pratima to full recovery from Parkinson’s six months ago. It is wonderful what you did, but it is now time to care for yourself, and yes, Penny’s words are very powerful on this point.
      Thank you for your kind words.

  6. Marie says:

    Thank you Howard, for this beautiful post, and thank you Penny, Angela, Nancy, Laurie and Bhavna for adding your insights and inspiration.
    I am so grateful to this wonderful community, and especially to you, Howard, for showing me another way.. Away of true self acceptance and self love and healing.

    • Howard says:

      Hi Marie,
      You are welcome. Please know how grateful we all are to you. My recovery told everybody it could be done. Your recovery told everybody it could be repeated…even by them. You continue to inspire us all! Thank you.

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