Mental Health

Bad People vs Bad Choices and Self Compassion

As I sat with a dear friend recently, who was going through a time of suffering, a simple concept became crystal clear to me.

We spend a lot of time saying things to ourselves that we would never say to someone we cared about. We tell ourselves we are a bad person and that we probably deserve our pain. Our loved ones might argue and tell us that we are good but we find it hard to listen because a complete reversal seems impossible.

In reality it’s more likely we have made a bad choice here and there. The intense self critic instantly equates bad choice to bad person.

This lack of self-compassion, or as I prefer to think of it – self kindness, can be devastating. We would never ever dream of treating someone we cared about in the cruel way we can treat ourselves.

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Creative Writing, Mental Health

Shadows

Sometimes I write in metaphor because that is how I tend to think. I was thinking about suffering and pain today and wanted to share with you the idea that it can be OK to ‘just be’ with pain sometimes.

This is how I think about it:

 

Sometimes I walk willingly into the dark. I know that the further I go the more I invite those feelings that dwell in there.

In the complete blackness waits pain, suffering and despair. The absence of light is the absence of hope. It’s lonely and it’s frightening.

But still I walk willingly towards the dark.

But I stop in the shadows. Halfway between the light and the dark.

The shadows are where I go to rest, to heal and to recharge. In the shadows I can sit next to my pain and my grief and my suffering but not be consumed by it.

From the shadows I can acknowledge pain without avoiding it but I can still feel the warmth of the light and the promise of hope.

For some of us being in the light is tiring and takes effort. The darkness is a part of us. It must not consume us but it should not be ignored.

It’s not bad to feel sadness or pain. Left unanswered they can spill into the parts of our lives where we need the light.

When I’m in the shadows please don’t worry. You are welcome to sit with me but please don’t bring a torch or drag me further into the dark.

 

Not everyone gets me when I am writing or talking like this, and I completely understand why! I’ll attempt to translate for you.

To deny our pain can be to deny part of ourselves. The reasons we have for our suffering often come from our very core values and ways of being. I reject the idea that the path to recovery is to leap around being forcefully ‘happy’ all the time. Sometimes we need time to just feel. To be sad or to grieve.

This doesn’t mean we have given up or that we are in a depression or anything negative. It means we are being courageous and vulnerable.

Being positive and open and daring can be draining sometimes, especially for introverts. The energy expended in being open can be recovered by moving back a little closer to a quieter place.

I find I personally need quite a lot of time in the shadows. Sometimes sitting close to sadness (past or present) just feeling. To remind me who I am. When I am there I welcome company but I do not need to be fixed. It makes me think of that line from ‘The Invitation’ by Oriah Mountain Dreamer –

I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.

I don’t think we should ever try to fix each other. We really just need to be with each other, to make connections and to stop being ashamed and guilty about our pain.

Mental Health

Don’t Panic – Why I’m Doing the Mystery Box Rally

I was having a virtual stroll around the Interwebs when I noticed a post from my friend Claire. Her co-driver for the 2016 Mystery Box Rally had dropped out and she needed a replacement.
I knew she was entering and essentially what the rally was –

Teams will drive unknown cars along a mystery route in this unique 5 day challenge, all in the name of cancer research. The mad baby brother of Shitbox Rally, Mystery Box is smaller and shorter but no less ridiculous. You fly into the departure `location with no car and no idea of where you’re heading, but ready for an adventure.

As I read the post calling for a replacement co-driver I though to myself “I wish I was the kind of person that did this kind of thing”. It occurred to me a few short moments later that I could be! I had a quick look around the website to make sure I knew what I would be getting into and sent Claire a message.

This is not the kind of thing I would ever have had the confidence to do before. A mystery journey in a mystery car – it is impossible to do the level of planning (and associated worrying) that I would usually do even for a short drive to an unfamiliar location.

The entire thing is about raising money for the Cancer Council in Australia who fund vital research into curing cancer. This is a cause very close to my heart and to my family who have lost many loved ones to the disease.

The timing of this opportunity was uncanny. The day before I had been in a particularly challenging session with my psychologist.

We have done some great work dealing with my anxiety and depression issues and have developed a strong and varied tool kit that helps me maximise the potential in my life. My focus on mindfulness, kindness, giving and gratitude was born out of these sessions. As we have tackled more and more ‘surface’ issues we have been moving closer and closer to some deep emotional root causes of some of the ways I feel and think.

Losing my mother to cancer at age 3 had, and continues to have, a profound impact on my life. It was only in this recent session that we really got down to the core of these impacts and started looking at the ways I can move forward. 

I’ll save the rest of that story for a more detailed post in the future when I have figured out exactly how to share it properly.

Needless to say, to have had a very painful (yet hopeful) eye opening with its roots in losing loved ones to cancer had really set me up to leap at the chance to help raise money for cancer research.

Claire and I got chatting and decided to call our team ‘Don’t Panic’ and to both dress as Arthur Dent for the entire rally. We went shopping for matching dressing gowns and pyjamas and made a team photograph.13315490_1065378123520764_3757606222773116849_n

We plan on drinking tea, handing out biscuits and looking confused in our pyjamas for the whole event. This will be good for me. I will have no choice but to ‘just be’ as each day unfolds with it’s challenges and surprises. To say I am excited is an understatement.

I’ve seen videos from previous and similar events and I am looking forward to making new connections. The sharing of the experience with the other participants will be amazing. I’ll be driving Claire insane during the day in the car but we camp every night together as a group. I can see the opportunities for those filmic moment I always thought were for ‘other people’.

So now we have until September to raise a minimum of $3000 for the Cancer Council.

 

We are collecting donations at:

Every Day Hero Page

You can follow our shenanigans on our FB page at:

Team Don’t Panic on Facebook