Fighting Parkinson’s, and your best is good enough

I need to address an issue that has been raised with me by a number of people. They tell me something like this: “I cannot do the Qigong exercises exactly like they are in the Recipe Manual or in the videos online, so I guess I will not be able to recover.” My response is simple: “When I had Parkinson’s, I could not do all of the Qigong exercises exactly like the are in the Recipe Manual or in the videos online, and I fully recovered. The only perfect Qigong is the one your body is allowing you to do when you are doing it. Your best is good enough.” Part of this recovery is learning that your best is good enough, and that you need to be kind to yourself on this issue.

When I had Parkinson’s, my balance was so poor that my center of balance was somewhere behind my heels. I hunched forward to not fall backwards. In the second half of Medical Qigong for Liver, where you bend backwards, I could not even stand straight up, so I bent forwards and stood up as far as I could with losing my balance. It was my best, and it was good enough…I fully recovered.

When I had Parkinson’s, the near hand/far hand exercises became unbearably painful after a couple of weeks doing them as they appear in the Recipe Manual or how they are explained in the Recipe online. So, I sat in a chair, put my hands on my kidneys (lower back, either side of the spine), and I did the first one that way. I then took one hand out and put it on top of my head and did the second one that way. Why? Because it was the best I could do and my best was good enough…I fully recovered.

Ultimately, in being able to look at yourself and accept, yes, accept, that your best is good enough, you first have to learn to be kind to yourself. 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.

You tend to put additional pressure on yourselves to be better at everything than anybody else. It is that drive for the unattainable perfection that helped you bring your Parkinson’s symptoms to the surface in the first place…you are doing your absolute best, but you still feel it is not good enough. On the other hand, you are accepting, and kind, and giving, and compassionate to those around you who are doing their best and not being perfect. Something in your 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 you have to be perfect, you never stop thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking and thinking…your Adrenaline-mode mind does not stop. Because, to be perfect, you 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 you 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 you simply cannot solve every problem and every scenario. First, you get angry at the situation, and second, you get angry at yourselves 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 you suffer from dietary disaster. Solving all these problems becomes more important than what or when or how you eat.

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

So, how do you reverse this mess? Begin by being kind to yourself and fully accept that your best is good enough.

How to begin the process of being kind to yourself:
1. Look in the mirror and say, “I am not perfect. My best is good enough.” 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. My best is good enough.”
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, you 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 Parkinson’s 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.

And do not be afraid of being vulnerable. As Socrates tells Dan in The Peaceful Warrior, “A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He’s about absolute vulnerability.” How about being a warrior in your fight against Parkinson’s by being vulnerable, admitting that you are not perfect, and that your best is good enough. You can do this!

You are worth it!!!

All my best,

Howard

 

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14 Responses to Fighting Parkinson’s, and your best is good enough

  1. Sally says:

    Thank you, Howard.
    Such valuable information and important common sense reminders.

  2. Kay Disbrow says:

    Thank you, Howard,
    So right-on!

  3. Yes, Howard….once again, you are right on target…I am committed to kindness….myself included. And there are plenty of times when I realize I would have liked to have been a wee bit kinder…but being obsessive about anything is a recipe for disaster, I think… at very least, it can be kind of funny…. so I maintain my sense of humor when I find myself leaning into perfectionism yet again…. and I laugh at myself… with kindness!

  4. Karen says:

    I had an epiphany along these lines last weekend. I was doing my gratitudes before bed; including at least one new one each day. When I realized I only include current events with living people/animals when really, all my friends and family who are no longer with me also helped make me who I am today. I had a rush of events with people/animals that I was grateful for when it suddenly hit me…I’ve never, not once, included myself in the list of people I’m grateful for! How could I not be grateful for me?!?!!! I can’t really put into words how my body felt in that moment other than to say filled with light…I had the best nights sleep I’ve had in a year…I woke up smiling and happy, just because, which is saying something since I am SO not a morning person. :o)

    So, if I may suggest, while you are being compassionate to yourself be grateful for you as well. You have the courage to seek out and take the path less traveled and THAT deserves gratitude!

    Thank you so much Howard for giving us this path out of great kindness; I don’t know where we’d be without you.

  5. Rick Deno says:

    Thanks Howard,
    For being so giving and wise…and sharing with all of us that currently have PD.

  6. judy says:

    Howard….thank-you, thank-you, thank-you for this piece….it was EXACTLY what i needed right now….”the thinking and thinking and thinking” describes me to a t….i sobbed and sobbed…..i feel like i’ve turned a corner, not only in my healing, but in my life….i want to shout it from the rooftops but i really don’t think anyone would understand, unless they’ve been there….i thank God for leading me to you….His timing is perfect, of course….these contributions help me tremendously…..thanx again, Howard, and all who share their insights….

  7. judy says:

    Howard….i love in your writings when you say, “when i HAD parkinson’s”….when i HAD….some day i will be able to say that, too!….”when i had parkinson’s”…i love the sound of that…..

  8. Jane Lindsay says:

    Dear Howard,

    Loved this. Thank you. Particularly:

    “And do not be afraid of being vulnerable. As Socrates tells Dan in The Peaceful Warrior, “A warrior is not about perfection or victory or invulnerability. He’s about absolute vulnerability.””

    “Absolute vulnerability” seems to be the Big Secret, the Bottom Line, the Ultimate in wisdom and letting go. Total surrender. I will keep this preciously in my mind and heart.

    Huge thanks and blessings,

    Jane

  9. Angela DiNardo says:

    Thank you for the reminder to be kind to ourselves, may I add gentle…..:-)

    Thank you for your support and love…

  10. Bhavna shah says:

    Dear Howard,
    i agree with you, my mom also could not do Qigong exercises the way they are done in your blog or videos, but she religiously did it and got success. along with parkinson my mom had multiple problems but she never gave up. please friends Just DONT GIVE UP believe in yourself. trust Howard.
    love and recovery to all

  11. Howard says:

    Thank you all for your comments. I know how hard you are working at your recovery, and I know you are doing your best…yes, your best is good enough. You are recovery!!!

    Love,
    Howard

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