Thank you to the Dalai Lhama

A friend sent this quote today after the Dalai Lhama had visited Cambridge and I wanted to share it.

” Our prime purpose in this life is to help others.  And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.

Be kind whenever possible.  It is always possible.

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.

Without them, humanity cannot survive.

If you want others to be happy practice compassion.  If you want to be happy practice compassion.

My religion is very simple.  My religion is kindness.

Happiness is not something ready made.  It comes from your own actions.

We can live without religion and medication, but we cannot survive without human affection.

In the practice of tolerance one’s enemy is the best teacher.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves.

Sleep is the best meditation”.

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Cashing in of Stamps

It is very common for human beings to collect the impact of the behaviours of others and store them.  A friend, partner or family member does something we don’t like and we don’t stay anything and instead of letting it go we store it.  This can happen many times before the person explodes and says ‘you always do/say that and it makes me furious’.  Their fair retort can be ‘why didn’t you tell me before?’.  Many divorce petitions read like a log of stored disliked behaviours sometimes spanning back many years.

We have seen an example of this in the press this week.  Charlotte Proudman is a professional woman who is tired of not being seen for who or what she is and instead is seen as her gender and the way she looks.  This made her react and not respond when someone else commented on the quality of her photograph and not what she was saying.  However, it would have been kinder and more worthwhile in the long run to speak to him not in a public forum and tell him about the impact of his comment on her and that this is no longer appropriate on a work forum.  Instead, she escalated the situation with a public humiliation of him and not putting herself in a good light.  We can be feminist and still kind.

OCD

Many of us think of ourselves or our friends and family accuse us of being OCD.  This ritual behaviours can range from being mild like wanting to live in a clean and tidy environment to people not going out because they are feeling compelled to do various household tasks.  The people who are at this milder end of the spectrum can be described as suffering from obsessive compulsive traits and not the full blown disorder.  Other people suffer from more extreme forms of this disorder and wash their hands dozens of times a day and live in a world of restricting their lives by being afraid of germs.

These behaviours can be treated successfully with cognitive behaviour therapy.

This weeks Horizon programme on the BBC was a brilliant insight into the world of people with extreme OCD which is totally ruining their lives.  It was well presented, balanced and must have given hope for so many sufferers.

I am also interested in the affect that this anxiety disorder has on the sufferers relationships with others.  Parent, partners, siblings, family members and friends are all affected by someone who is experiencing this disorder.  These people are often suffering alone and need the support of others to cope with their lives as they love and live with someone suffering from OCD.

Revenge Porn

I watched a brilliant BBC programme last night about revenge porn.  Although it was more than about people hurting each other when in or leaving relationships.  The other side being the behaviour of the trolls which is difficult to both describe and understand.

What was interesting for me was hearing about the number of ex partners who resort to these damaging tactics to ‘hurt’ someone who was their partner when the relationship is over.  I truly believe that the way in which someone behaves under stress is a crucial aspect of who they truly are.  This is such a betrayal of someones love and trust in you no matter how long ago.  If they finish the relationship for whatever reason and you behave in that way it would suggest that they made the right decision and did not leave a minute too soon.  Would someone choose to be in a relationship with someone who is capable of being so publicly hurtful.

These behaviours are not only hurtful to the person whose name is slandered on line or their intimate photographs are now for public viewing, what about the person who put the information or the photographs there?  What does it say about them as a person?  A new potential romance is likely to think twice before being involved as do they want to be the next victim of this behaviour?

Plus, the other people who get hurt in these revenge behaviours are the families and bystanders.  What child, no matter what age, wants to be a witness to intimate photographs on line of one of their parents?  How long before grown ups carelessly speak in front of their children and the children of the victims get bullied at school?

As a psychologist who has worked with many people over the years I ask questions when told of a new potential romance ‘what does he/she say about their previous partner’?  Imagine, saying ‘oh she/he was so awful my new partner posted pornographic photographs of them on line or said things about them that were betraying intimate secrets for the world to read”  My next question would likely be ‘and what makes you think that won’t be you in the future’?

Whether the relationship is going well or you have decided to call it a day and go your separate ways then kindness is the key.  Revenge for a perceived wrong may feel good for a few seconds and then the reality hits and once you have put something on line it cannot be taken back.

I encourage people to get rid of their anger in a healthy way and respond to a hurt and not react.  I hear excuses like ‘I was so hurt and angry I couldn’t stop myself’.  You are a grown up, deal with your emotions to avoid escalating to a point where your behaviours are regrettable to you and everyone else around.  I have always liked the idea of would you want this behaviour to be the headlines in a national newspaper or a you-tube clip of it sent to your own family?

The programme showed us that people can lose friends and their careers due to revenge behaviour.  Stop, think and don’t do it.

EMBRACE AND ACCEPT

We live in a world surrounded by so many people who look different to ourselves in so many different ways.  I hear so often how children are bullied at school for being different.  Parents need to be accepting and teach their children to accept others and explain that it is cruel to make others feel bad.

Imagine if every time you went out of your house, got on a bus or train or even just walked down the street and people both stared at you and felt that they had a right to comment on the way you look.  People don’t have these rights and yet still do it, just imagine both the short term and long term impact on their self esteem.  People in the workplace frequently endure people being cruel to them, under the guise of humour, they don’t like it and yet are afraid of saying anything incase they make the situation worse.

If you are about to say something unkind to or about someone, stop and ask yourself ‘do I need to make this comment at all?’  Am I going to improve the quality of my or their lives by saying this negative thing?

CBT teaches us to change our negative thoughts about ourselves into positive ones, I think we could apply this to our thoughts about others.  A childhood comment I heard so ofter was ‘if you cannot say something nice about or to someone then don’t say anything at all’. I still like this philosophy and although I don’t always find it easy I do endeavour to stick to it.

If we could accept everyone as being another important human being with feelings no matter how large or small, the colour of their skin and regardless of what they look like I believe the world in which we live could be a nicer and kinder place for all of us.

The Perpetuation of Bullying

Once again watching Rookies has brought inappropriate behaviour to my attention.

Being bullied as a child is not an excuse for bullying others as an adult.  Anyone who has been bullied knows first hand about the impact the behaviour of others had on them.  They then have a choice.  They can hurt or humiliate others in the way that it happened to them and continue the cycle or they can make a decision that they do not want other people to suffer what they themselves went through.

The young man on this programme laughed when he was accused of bullying by his senior colleague.  His mother said that he had been severely bullied at school as though to excuse the way in which he treats other people now.  That is not an excuse, bullying is cruel and unkind and there is never a justification for it.

What is wrong with being kind to other people and running a very large risk that they will treat you in the same way?

THE PRESS

i fail to understand why the press are being so cruel to the queen over something that happened so long ago.  She works harder than most people and is a good role model to us.  Why is she being attacked because her father taught her and her sister a gesture that was fashionable at the time?  It was likely to be just as innocent as children today being taught to high five. If somewhere in the world at this moment it is becoming a symbol of brutality and hatred how would we know?

When something is given or taught in good faith should their lives be made miserable if it turns out to be something different in the future?  This behaviour makes me sad and is causing unnecessary stress and suffering.

Dignity in relationships

We have just returned from a night in the Port Lympne Reserve Hotel.  A stunningly beautiful place set in fabulous grounds with the sounds of the animals in the background.  I cannot praise this place enough for its attention to detail.

However, from staying in the hotel to being taken on a safari trip around the grounds it was the staff that had the most impact on me.  They were all, without exception, smiley and treated each other well and were just charming to the members to the public visiting their place of work.

The aim is to treat the animals well even driving slowly past an elderly elephant’s enclosure because he is not well and they did not want to upset him.  However, the whole ethos of the place was to treat all animals well and with dignity.  If someone is struggling with a long uphill walk we were told to ring the office and they would send the minibus to collect us.

I think this environment is built on kindness and it was a pleasure to visit.  Thank you.

Thank you

Today a friend sent me a link to a short video clip on kindness:  https://www.facebook.com/die.koepfe.der.genies/video/1542118169374657/.  It is not in my language and that does not matter.  It shows small acts of kindness that are so easy to take for granted, like picking up a baby or toddler’s toy when they have thrown it out of their pram. Picking up a bottle left in the park and putting it in the rubbish bin.  Instead of complaining that someone is in your way, helping the person struggling with a pushchair getting off the bus.

Small acts of kindness are important and infectious.  If someone is kind to you it is more likely that you will feel good and be kind to other people.

I truly believe that kindness could make such a difference to our everyday lives, whether it is being kind to ourselves or others.

A lift

One of the really good things that never fails to give me a lift when I visit Brighton is travelling on the buses.  They are frequent, safe and clean which I appreciate with mostly really nice drivers.

It is not this that particularly resonates as different from other places I visit, it is the travellers.  The buses are such that we use the same door to both get on and off the bus which means we pass the driver twice.  Most people say thank you to the driver as they get off the bus.  Even the young ‘cool’ boys will say ‘cheers mate’.  The drivers make some polite comment in return.  This whole interaction lends to kindness in the air and I certainly get off the bus feeling lighter than when I got on.

This made me realise just how the London bus drivers who get complained at when buses are late or stuck in traffic don’t get the words ‘thank you’ that they deserve.  This was further brought to my attention when a small mentally and physically disabled little boy struggled to get on the bus with his mum.  When he was struggling to get off the bus at a door further back he shouted ‘thank you driver’.  Bless his little heart, we can learn so much from people like him and I am sure it made the driver feel good.

So my message to the many bus drivers who I do not say thank you for delivering me safely to my destination due to the proximity of the doors and the crowded corridors THANK YOU!