Drive By Wisdom: Should Humans Be On The Endangered Species List?

 

We need to consider our future as a species.  Human’s are brilliant, special, and inventive.  But we are also destructive, abusive, and violent.  In this short video I’ll explore my thoughts on our future and ways we can make a difference for our species, other species we share this world with, and our environment.

Why This Election Is Making Me A Better Person

I’ve lived through many presidential elections and have been an active voter for 33 years. Like many of you, I haven’t seen an election this negative and divisive. It’s been downright ugly.

I have friends and family who voted for the candidate that I could not support.  Their decision baffles me.  At the same time I know that my decision to support my candidate baffles them.  We are gridlocked in confusion and frustration and it’s hard to see each others’ perspective.

To be honest it makes me sad. I’m seeing a lack of civility at a level I haven’t seen before.  The terrible rhetoric of this election seems to have given some people a sense that it’s OK to treat each other with disdain and suspicion.

I firmly support peoples right to protest, but they cross the line when they become destructive to our property and violent to other people.  It also crosses a line when people send hateful messages to each other online or in person.

Here in the Twin Cities we’ve had racial slurs and white supremacist notes written on the lockers of students at a few of our high schools. People of color and non-Christian religions have stated that they are feeling threatened by the rhetoric and actions of others.

For some reason this election has given a group of people a sense that its OK to unleash their hatred and bigotry.  Hatred and bigotry have long been part of our human history, but I’m seeing a boldness today that I haven’t seen for a long time.

Although I believe one of the political candidates was responsible for more negativity than the other, I do blame both parties for attack ads and negative campaigning. This election exceeding previous elections in it’s negativity. We all felt it.

With all that said, this election is making me a better person.

In the face of this negativity and lack of civility, I’m going to live my life supporting efforts that seek to make life better for everyone.

I am going to do my best to treat everyone with civility even if I disagree with them.

I will stand up for injustice and for those who are being targeted by bigots.

I will work to support the individuals and organizations who are trying to improve the lives of others and our environment.

I don’t know if the negativity in our culture will continue or subside in the coming days, but I do know that I want and need to be a better person.

I don’t have it all figured out, so I’ll commit today to being a person of civility and compassion.  My challenge for you, regardless of who you voted for, is to do the same.

 

We All Need Compassion…From Ourselves

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I believe that a universal experience in life is that we are often extremely hard on ourselves.  We criticize ourselves for our failures and shortcomings, we devalue our strengths and contributions, and we tear at the fabric of our very being with anger and sometimes hatred.  We don’t always see this in others because this can be an internal experience, but I know that we sense it and feel it in ourselves.


When we tear at our core value as a human being we only end up with depression and frustration. It keeps us from believing in our future potential and leads to more negative thoughts and behavior.  Self-doubt causes a tremendous amount of stress as we want to have a different life but feel like it’s unattainable.


I see this dynamic so many times in my work as a career consultant. Through no fault of their own, many people are laid off of their jobs due to a downturn in their company or some type of corporate restructuring.  Talented people with incredible experience to offer will begin to doubt themselves and their ability to find another job. Some will blame themselves for not working harder or playing the office politics more effectively, but that wouldn’t have mattered.  These people are bystanders caught up in a new world of business that wants to hire and let people go on a moment’s notice.    But for many people, it’s hard to not separate themselves and their self-worth from their layoff.


I also see this in people who are trying to lose weight who have a failing in their plan. I’ve been there too.  This goal that we are trying to reach is so important to us, that when we make a mistake or fail to achieve our goals we take it hard and blame ourselves.  This blame goes beyond taking responsibility into the realm of self-criticism.  I know that at times in my life, it transferred into self-hatred.  There was a time when I was a kid I was so mad at myself for being fat that I took a wire hanger and whipped my legs until they were sore.  That only happened once, but the self-doubt and self-hatred cropped up now and then as I experience weight loss success and failure throughout my life.  If you’ve every struggled with your weight over your life, this may feel familiar.


The problem with this self-criticism is that if often leads to more self-destructive thinking and behavior.  In a previous podcast, I confessed that I am a stress eater and I know many of you listening are stress eaters too. The Catch 22 with this lack of compassion on ourselves is that the stress leads us back to food, and usually food that is not good for us.  We think these self-critical thoughts, get stressed, stress eat, get frustrated with ourselves, think more negative thoughts and the loop continues.


Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves?  What I find true is that some of us would never talk to other people the way we talk to ourselves and if they heard how we talk to ourselves they would be horrified.


When searching for a good definition of compassion I found this on Wikipedia:


“The Dalai Lama once said that compassion is a necessity, not a luxury, and that without it humanity cannot survive. Compassion is a process of connecting by identifying with another person.  This identification with others through compassion can lead to increased motivation to do something in an effort to relieve the suffering of others”.

It seems that it’s easier to have compassion on others, but how do we have a compassionate response to our own struggles and failures?


First.  We have to give up the idea of perfection.  As we move toward our goal of losing weight we cannot expect perfection. We will have ups and downs. Success and failure. What is important, though, is steady progress, not perfection.  Be kind to yourself and give up the notion of that this process will go exactly how you want.

2nd. We need to realize that we are only human and can’t do everything all at once.  Sometimes we fail in life because we are doing too much. When it comes to your health, the research shows that small changes made over time yield better results than major changes done quickly.  If you are struggling with your weight, be compassionate with yourself and give yourself plenty of time to make the changes you need.

3rd. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or failures, rather own your mistakes and forgive yourself. Then move on and start again.  In an earlier podcast I talked about how you are only one meal away from being back on track.  I have used that mental strategy hundreds of times over the years to keep my progress going. In the past, I would let my mistakes rule my thinking and I would give up.  Forgiving yourself isn’t always easy, but it’s important. It’s a way to have self-compassion.

4th. And most importantly,  believe that you are worthy of compassion. You have intrinsic value as a person, and regardless of your successes or failures, you deserve to be loved and respected. There is an organization called the Charter for Compassion and their creed explains much of what I want to say here:

“The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”


 One of Jesus most famous sayings is, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.  If we increase our compassionate response to ourselves, we will have a larger capacity to have compassion on others. We will benefit, and those around us will benefit because we all need a little compassion now and then.

We All Need A Little Compassion…From Ourselves

file000318417020

I believe that a universal experience in life is that we are often extremely hard on ourselves.  We criticize ourselves for our failures and shortcomings, we devalue our strengths and contributions, and we tear at the fabric of our very being with anger and sometimes hatred.  We don’t always see this in others because this can be an internal experience, but I know that we sense it and feel it in ourselves.


When we tear at our core value as a human being we only end up with depression and frustration. It keeps us from believing in our future potential and leads to more negative thoughts and behavior.  Self-doubt causes a tremendous amount of stress as we want to have a different life but feel like it’s unattainable.


I see this dynamic so many times in my work as a career consultant. Through no fault of their own, many people are laid off of their jobs due to a downturn in their company or some type of corporate restructuring.  Talented people with incredible experience to offer will begin to doubt themselves and their ability to find another job. Some will blame themselves for not working harder or playing the office politics more effectively, but that wouldn’t have mattered.  These people are bystanders caught up in a new world of business that wants to hire and let people go on a moment’s notice.    But for many people, it’s hard to not separate themselves and their self-worth from their layoff.


I also see this in people who are trying to lose weight who have a failing in their plan. I’ve been there too.  This goal that we are trying to reach is so important to us, that when we make a mistake or fail to achieve our goals we take it hard and blame ourselves.  This blame goes beyond taking responsibility into the realm of self-criticism.  I know that at times in my life, it transferred into self-hatred.  There was a time when I was a kid I was so mad at myself for being fat that I took a wire hanger and whipped my legs until they were sore.  That only happened once, but the self-doubt and self-hatred cropped up now and then as I experience weight loss success and failure throughout my life.  If you’ve every struggled with your weight over your life, this may feel familiar.


The problem with this self-criticism is that if often leads to more self-destructive thinking and behavior.  In a previous podcast, I confessed that I am a stress eater and I know many of you listening are stress eaters too. The Catch 22 with this lack of compassion on ourselves is that the stress leads us back to food, and usually food that is not good for us.  We think these self-critical thoughts, get stressed, stress eat, get frustrated with ourselves, think more negative thoughts and the loop continues.


Why is it that we are so hard on ourselves?  What I find true is that some of us would never talk to other people the way we talk to ourselves and if they heard how we talk to ourselves they would be horrified.


When searching for a good definition of compassion I found this on Wikipedia:


“The Dalai Lama once said that compassion is a necessity, not a luxury, and that without it humanity cannot survive. Compassion is a process of connecting by identifying with another person.  This identification with others through compassion can lead to increased motivation to do something in an effort to relieve the suffering of others”.

It seems that it’s easier to have compassion on others, but how do we have a compassionate response to our own struggles and failures?


First.  We have to give up the idea of perfection.  As we move toward our goal of losing weight we cannot expect perfection. We will have ups and downs. Success and failure. What is important, though, is steady progress, not perfection.  Be kind to yourself and give up the notion of that this process will go exactly how you want.

2nd. We need to realize that we are only human and can’t do everything all at once.  Sometimes we fail in life because we are doing too much. When it comes to your health, the research shows that small changes made over time yield better results than major changes done quickly.  If you are struggling with your weight, be compassionate with yourself and give yourself plenty of time to make the changes you need.

3rd. Don’t dwell on your mistakes or failures, rather own your mistakes and forgive yourself. Then move on and start again.  In an earlier podcast I talked about how you are only one meal away from being back on track.  I have used that mental strategy hundreds of times over the years to keep my progress going. In the past, I would let my mistakes rule my thinking and I would give up.  Forgiving yourself isn’t always easy, but it’s important. It’s a way to have self-compassion.

4th. And most importantly,  believe that you are worthy of compassion. You have intrinsic value as a person, and regardless of your successes or failures, you deserve to be loved and respected. There is an organization called the Charter for Compassion and their creed explains much of what I want to say here:

“The principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religious, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves. Compassion impels us to work tirelessly to alleviate the suffering of our fellow creatures, to dethrone ourselves from the centre of our world and put another there, and to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being, treating everybody, without exception, with absolute justice, equity and respect.”


 One of Jesus most famous sayings is, “Love your neighbor as you love yourself”.  If we increase our compassionate response to ourselves, we will have a larger capacity to have compassion on others. We will benefit, and those around us will benefit because we all need a little compassion now and then.