We All Need Compassion…From Ourselves


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.

Building Mental Toughness: Interview with Shaun Goodsell Part 2


Mental toughness gives us the tools we need to achieve our most important goals in life, whether we are working to improve our health, career, relationships, or athletics. High performance coach Shaun Goodsell  has worked with top athletes at all levels of sports,  including pro athletes. He shares his insights and strategies for building mental toughness so we can achieve the most out of life.  If you are mentally tough you will greatly increase your odds of losing weight and keeping it off for life. Apply what Shaun recommends and watch your mental toughness grow!

This is part  2 of a two part interview. Click here for part one of the interview.

To find out more about Shaun Goodsell and his extraordinary work, check out his website at www.shaungoodsell.com



Building Mental Toughness: Interview with Shaun Goodsell Part 1


Mental toughness gives us the tools we need to achieve our most important goals in life, whether we are working to improve our health, career, relationships, or athletics. High performance coach Shaun Goodsell  has worked with top athletes at all levels of sports,  including pro athletes. He shares his insights and strategies for building mental toughness so we can achieve the most out of life.  If you are mentally tough you will greatly increase your odds of achieving your goals in your health, relationships, and career. Apply what Shaun recommends and watch your mental toughness grow!

Too few people have heard this interview and I encourage you to take the time for this incredible information.

This is part 1 of a two part conversation. Check back next week to hear Shaun and I wrap up our talk about being mentally tough.

To find out more about Shaun Goodsell and his extraordinary work, check out his website at www.shaungoodsell.com

AC: The Power of Appetite Correction: Interview with Dr. Bert Herring


Do you ever feel like your appetite is out of control?

I know that for myself and many others who have struggled to lose weight that feeling out of control is a common issue.  At times it seems like our appetite has a mind of it’s own and no matter what we do to gain control, we are failing.

In this interview, Dr. Bert Herring outlines his plan for bringing our appetites back into alignment with nature: the way our appetites are meant to work.

Dr. Herring bases his strategy on his intermittent fasting protocol called Fast 5.  If you are not familiar with intermittent fasting or are opposed to it, I encourage you to keep an open mind.

You never know when you come across a good idea that can transform your health.


You can find more information about Dr. Herring at www.bertherring.com.

You can hear my first interview with Dr. Herring by clicking here: The Fast 5 Diet

What They Won’t Tell You When You Want to Lose Weight

Credit: matehavitaliy

Credit: matehavitaliy

We are rounding the corner to a new year and  many of us will be making resolutions to lose weight, again.  This is the number one resolution of the year and yet the vast majority of us are struggling with our health.

The marketing hype is starting up again about quick weight loss programs, exercise equipment, and gym memberships.  There will be an unrelenting barrage of commercials for diet foods, shakes, and supplements that promise easy weight loss with no hunger and no exercise.

If someone is trying make money based on your need to lose weight then they have a vested interest in not telling you the complete truth. In fact, they have a vested interest in having you regain the weight so that you’ll be a returning customer.

Is this cynical? Maybe, but if everyone who is overweight and obese lost weight and kept if off the diet and exercise industry would implode.


Here is what you will not be hearing from anyone trying to make money on you:

Losing weight is hard. Really hard.

Keeping if off is harder.

You will have to drastically change your life.

You will have to change how you eat, permanently.

You will have to exercise for the rest of your life, consistently.

You will need to buy and prepare your own food most of the time.

You will be uncomfortable and discouraged.

Does that sound hopeful?

No, but it should give you a dose of reality.  There is no drug, no program, and  no surgery more powerful than your determination to take control of your life.  You can lose weight by eating real food that is available everywhere. You can exercise in your home, your neighborhood, and if you want, your local gym.

What we need to do is change our lifestyle. We need to change how we eat and our relationship to food. I’ve kept  70+ pounds off for more than 10 years and I have had to work for it. I have to change how I eat and I can’t let up.  When I lapse into bad habits I pay the price with a few pounds. When I get back on track I take them off.

Weight loss and maintenance is not hard because of how you need to eat and exercise. It’s hard because we live in a culture that is bent on getting us to eat more. We are bombarded by processed food, most of it junk, everywhere we go.  If you are trying to lose weight you have to know that you are under attack from well meaning and not so well meaning people and companies.

This is why determination and lifestyle change is so important.

It takes discipline to say “no” to bad food.  It takes strategy to navigate eating out and at parties. It takes self-compassion to get back on track after mistakes.

When you achieve your health goals, think of all the energy you’ll have and the things you’ll be able to do. It’s worth the pain and effort and you’ll never want to go back.

If you want to lose weight and keep it off, I have some ideas for you that are on my website www.dennisbird.org.


  • To help you learn to say “No”  listen to:

Are You in the No

  • To help you with your mindset:

Building Mental Toughness-Interview with Shaun Goodsell- Part 1                                                              Building Mental Toughness-Interview with Shaun Goodsell-Part 2

  • For a simple strategy to implement a weight loss plan:

How to Lose & Maintain Weight

  • To help you pick up after a failure listen to:

We All Need A Little Compassion From Ourselves


In January 2016 I’ll be releasing chapters of my book Get Smart and Get Slim. This book summarizes many of my ideas on weight loss and maintenance.  Sign up to receive my emails on www.dennisbird.org to get updates on when new chapters are available.

I’ll also be releasing an interview with Dr. Bert Herring, author of AC: The Power of Appetite Correction.   My first interview with Dr. Herring on the Fast 5 Diet can be found here: Fast 5 Diet




What If The Golden Years Are Right Now? (And You’re Missing Them)

Credit: DeduloPhotos

Credit: DeduloPhotos


How many times have you had the thought,

“When I get to ______ life will really be great!”

That is what I call the Golden Years.  A time in life where we look forward to our future becoming better than what it is today.  Life will really be great:

When I retire.

When the kids go off to college.

When I get that promotion.

When I buy that house.

When I take that trip.

When I lose weight.

When I meet Mr./Mrs Right

Having goals for our future isn’t wrong. I have goals for my future, but what if we are missing out on what’s available to us in the present because we are so focused on the future? Worse yet, what if we actually get to the future and we don’t find it as great as we thought it was.

I’m bored in retirement.

I miss the kids.

I’m stressed in my new job.

The house is so big I can’t find anyone.

It rained the whole time during my trip.

I lost weight, but gained it back.

My relationship ended.

The future could be as great as we think it will be, but we can’t know that today because it has happened yet. If fact, there is no guarantee we will get to our future. Life can get cut short through illness and accidents,  jobs can end through layoffs, and houses burn down.

What I’ve been realizing though, it that the Golden Years are right now where ever I am and where ever I go.

The reason I’m not experiencing the Golden Years is that I’m not fully living in awareness of what I’m experiencing today. I’m too preoccupied with the future, too stressed about what hasn’t happened yet, and too anxious about my goals and if they will happen.

Here’s an example:  I’ve had this idea that my blog and podcast will really be making an impact in people’s lives when I hit 100,000 readers each month.  Right now I have about 22oo, and if I focus on how far I am from my goal I get discouraged and feel like I’m wasting my time.

But what if the Golden Years of my blog and podcast are right now?  If I practice the skill of living a life of awareness I realize that writing and speaking my ideas is helping me become the person I want to be. I appreciate the people who are showing up each month to read and listen.  I’m meeting people I never would have met if I had not started a podcast. I’m grateful for the experience.

Living a life of awareness means that we are paying attention to the present moment.

What am I feeling right now?

What am I thinking?

What is grabbing my attention?

What do I notice?

What do I see?

What do I hear?

What am I sensing?

Living in the present is challenging because our internal thinking, the demands we place on ourselves and demands from other people can rip us out of the now and into the anxiety of the future.  Living in the present brings a deeper and fuller experience.

When I am living a life of awareness and living in the present:

I appreciate and love my wife more.

I see how extraordinary my kids are.

I experience the beauty of my surroundings.

I am more open and flexible.

I’m less frustrated when things don’t work out.

I find more meaning in my work.

I’m more content with what I have and what I don’t

Don’t waste time, relationships, and experience waiting for the future. Practice living life with awareness and being present in the moment and see how the Golden Years are right now.


Here are some resources that I’ve found helpful as I’m learning how to practice living in awareness.

Slow Down to the Speed of Life, by Richard Carlson and Joe Bailey. This is a great read about how to get your mind out of the past and out of the future so you can live with more peace and contentment in a busy world.

Interview with Joe Bailey Co-Author of Slow Down to the Speed of Life on the 5Percenters Podcast. Click here. Joe and I talk about the concepts in his book and apply them to living an excellent life.

Zen Parenting Podcast with Cathy Cassini Adams and Todd Adams. If you have kids this is an excellent podcast about living the life you want your kids to learn. Their tag line is, “The best predictor of your child’s well being is a parent’s self-understanding”. Even if you don’t have kids, this is an excellent podcast about living a life of awareness.