Category Archives: Compassion

The Problem with Hating

When I was a kid, every once in a while I would say something along the lines of “I hate her.” As most of us know this is preteen speak for “I hate how that person made me feel.”

And if I said this in front of my dad, he would say, “Don’t say ‘hate.’” And I would ask him why not because it didn’t seem like such an awful thing to say. And, in fact, it felt rather empowering at an age when I felt pretty powerless.

My dad, who was at an age in which the memory of the Holocaust was still a little too fresh in mind, would say “Hating is something you always regret.”

Although I didn’t quite understand what my dad meant at the time his comment stuck with me and I’ve always resisted from actively hating anyone. OK I hate mosquitoes but I have tried very hard not to hate any person or group of people.

Recently I read that someone I thought was a friend hates me. More specifically, this friend hates me because I’m white. No other reason I’m aware of. I’m white therefore I am hated.

Here’s the problem with hating.

I am Jewish and my ancestors have a long history with hatred for being what they are. Like many Jewish people living in the United States I have family members who died in concentration camps.

When Hitler came into power in 1930’s Germany most German people wouldn’t say they hated the Jews. Most of them probably knew at least one or two Jewish people and felt Jews were pretty much OK.

As they listened to propaganda, though, some began to hate Jews. Again, they probably didn’t hate specific Jews but they began to see Jews as being something less than human. Instead of individual human beings they saw ugly stereotypes.

When you begin to see people as a group. As Them. You can begin doing terrible things to those people. Or you can, at least, begin to condone the terrible things that other people are doing.

And that is the problem with hatred.

When hate enables us to see other people as less than human. When hate enables us to say “they are somehow worse than us,” it creates the conditions that enable people to do things that they almost always regret.

It isn’t hate so much as it is an emotion that enables us to take hate-full action. To say hate-full things. It allowed Nazi Germany to systematically send millions of people into gas chambers. Hate allowed them to see those people as something less than human. It enabled them to do something they otherwise would never do.

Hate enables us to do and justify doing terrible things to other human beings.

I think that free speech is one of the most important rights we have in the United States. Free speech was intended to allow for the expression of many different points of view. Our founders wanted to insure that no authority would ever take away someone’s ability to disagree.

But hating isn’t the same as disagreement. Hate is an expression of an intent to hurt. It is the expression of “you are less than human in my eyes and therefore do not deserve human regard.”

One last point. Hating on the Internet is a real problem because the Internet gives us a certain amount of insulation from consequences. That’s why hatred online is especially virulent.

When we sit in-person with someone else it gets a lot harder to hate and say hateful things. Because you see that person flinch. You see the tears in another person’s eyes. You realize “I have hurt someone who is a lot like me.”  You realize hate has real consequences.

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Failure and Success

I love this quote because it’s so true even though it may not feel that way.

I’ve noticed that the primary difference between successful people and unsuccessful people is that the successful people fail more.

— Martha Beck, How to Turn Failure into Success

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Filed under Compassion, Getting Out of My Own Way

Doing the Right Thing for Gus

Since the holidays our handsome tabby cat, Gus, has been acting lethargic and spends most of his time sleeping next to the bedroom heating duct.

Gus is 11-years old which is considered old for a cat. Still, I’ve had cats that have lived to the age of 17 doing quite well until the last year. During his last check up, Gus was doing well…a little chubby…but all his vitals were good. As an older cat, Gus was a quieter than our year-old Lily, who still has lots kittenish energy. Nonetheless, he still enjoyed hanging out with us, playing with Lily, and greeting guests at the door. Gus has always been very friendly for a cat. So friendly we often joke that he’s the “cat who thinks he’s a dog.”

The vet who checked Gus said his apparent vitals looked fine with the exception of his weight loss. Gus had lost nearly 2-pounds since his last exam. Two pounds is a lot for a cat, especially for a cat like Gus who loves his meal times.

The vet also took blood and urine samples to check for common health issues common in older cats such as diabetes and kidney disease.

Although the blood work showed abnormalities, the results weren’t conclusive. His kidneys were working and his blood sugar was normal so we could rule out diabetes and kidney disease. The vet suggested an ultrasound as the next step. Older cats can develop pancreatitis, cancer, and GI tract masses that can be detected using an ultrasound.

An ultrasound for Gus would cost slightly over $400 and many people would schedule one without a second thought.

But I found myself hesitating and told the vet I’d talk it over with my family.

Why my hesitation?

Well, for one thing, $400 is a lot of money. There are a lot of people who consider their dogs and cats to be family members and wouldn’t hesitate to take the next step.

I love my cats a great deal. They are beloved members of our household. But I can’t get past a few things:

  • Gus can’t speak for himself. I’ve noticed that when animals are ill they do what they need to do. They seem to have an instinctive wisdom that humans have lost touch with. My sense of Gus is he wants to be left alone.
  • More troubling to me is the slippery slope presented by advanced treatment options. Diagnostics might help us find something treatable but then again they may not. At what point do we, my family and I, say “we’re going to stop here?”

An alternative option our vet offered is to put Gus on a course of wide-spectrum antibiotics in case the problem is an infection. I’m reluctant to do this because Gus is an indoor cat and I’m not clear how he would have been exposed to something that would cause these symptoms.

Ultimately, I have only my own values to work with here. At this moment I don’t know the possible diagnostic conclusions from an ultrasound nor do I know treatment options and how they would affect the possible length of Gus’ life and the quality of his life.


Advanced medical diagnostics and treatments for pets offer the gift of saving the life of a pet and improving a pet’s quality of life. But it also means we have to make painful decisions when the choice is not an automatic “yes.”


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We All Need Encouragement & Appreciation

Big Star

I’m cringing as i write this this because it hits so directly on my “unworthiness” button.

When I turned 12 and my family moved to a new town which was very different from the place we had lived in, I began to harbor fantasies around “being discovered.” Up until the time we moved, I didn’t think much about “being discovered.” I think it was because up until that point I felt pretty fully self-expressed. If I got an idea I really liked, I generally went with it. I didn’t do huge projects but I did things like copying something I saw on TV as a picture, writing and producing a play, writing a story, making a cake I saw in a cookbook, carving a bar of soap into a fish, making pinatas from balloons and paper mache, and making hand puppets from cheesecloth, making a castle from Elmers Glue and pebbles I found in the playground.

I didn’t question myself or ask “should I do this or should I not do this?”

I usually just collected what I needed and did the steps.

When I began writing this, I was feeling discouraged because I’ve been writing my blog for a long time and up until recently, I have received very, very few comment from people. From time to time people will like something I posted but not very often.

  Continue reading

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The Gift of Being a Beginner

When I was a little kid, I drew all the time. I was good at it and completely un-self conscious. Like a lot of people who draw naturally, I just “drew what I saw.”

I loved MAD magazine and dreamed that one day I would draw comics and cartoons.

The I got older and lost interest in art. Partly because it wasn’t encouraged in the schools I attended and partly because I got a lot more interested in getting people to like me and doing everything perfectly (in my mind there was a strong positive correlation).

Now, 40+ years later, I want to draw again. I love using images to tell stories and explain stuff and I’m tired of spending so much time looking for images on the internet when it would be so much easier to just create what I have in mind.

So I’ve picked up the book, “You Can Draw in 30 Days” by Mark Kistler and I’ve committed to spending at least 20 minutes each day to my art work. I like the book because Mark Kistler is good at teaching important fundamentals using simple lessons. I feel like I’ve learned a lot in less than a week.

Here are drawings I did based on two lessons in the book:

[Drawing in 30 Days] 07.28.15 Lesson 6 Bonus Robot   [Drawing in 30 Days] 07.28.15 Lesson 5 Bonus Treashar

Being a beginner requires me to cultivate patience, self-compassion, and to keep my sense of humor.

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Day 23: Radical Forgiveness – On “Staycation”


I haven’t posted anything for the last few days for a few reasons:

  1. Christmas and time spent with my family. Between wrapping gifts, cooking, tidying up and just hanging out, I haven’t had the blocks of time I like to have when I journal or do an exercise.
  2. Hit a “stopping point.” When I finished reading Radical Forgiveness and completed the forgiveness process three times, I had the sense of hitting a natural stopping point. It isn’t as though I’m “done.” This is the kind of work that is done over a lifetime.
  3. I also felt some resistance. I enjoyed reading Radical Forgiveness and although I wouldn’t say going through the forgiveness process is exactly “enjoyable”, I’ve definitely felt a sense of progress and forward movement. When I did the self-forgiveness worksheet, I didn’t find what I had experienced forgiving others to be directly applicable.

Colin Tipping wrote Radical Self-Forgiveness after writing Radical Forgiveness to address some of the challenges people were experiencing when trying to forgive themselves. Although I felt some resistance to buying another book (the reviews for the second book were more mixed than for the first book and this also contributed to my unease), I think the second book has some useful ideas that compliment the original Radical Forgiveness book.

I began reading Radical Self-Forgiveness today and I find myself agreeing with Colin Tipping:

  • The radical self-forgiveness process doesn’t feel as clear cut as the radical forgiveness process because it can feel confusing when it comes to “who’s actually doing the forgiving here?”
  • For this reason, it helps to better understand the different selves we each have as well as to understand there is a self representing the Divine within.
  • It also helps to identify parts of ourselves we’ve adopted from others but that don’t serve us. All those “shoulds” that kick our ass all the time. Maybe there are things we don’t even need to forgive so much as unload because it was never ours to begin with.

To that last point, I suddenly had this awareness of how I was feeling bad because I didn’t spend the holidays the way I “should” have. I didn’t reach out to anyone over the last few days; no phone calls, no emails, no cards…and although I’m not aware of any feelings of loneliness  or isolation…a little voice in me is giving me a hard time because that part of me feels it’s not OK to “keep to myself.”

I haven’t felt inspired to reach out. Usually if I’m inspired to reach out, I do.

This is an example of something that I might think I should forgive myself for when actually I’m just being myself.

Tomorrow I’m planning to do the exercises around how I define myself and what qualities I’m fine owning and what I can give back. I imagine I’ll also learn about the qualities I own which I don’t like about myself. Those are the things, I’m guess which require self-forgiveness.

On a final note, I’m wondering if I’ll want to extend my time practicing Radical Forgiveness. Quite possibly although I expect to do it parallel with the work I’ll be doing to find my “right work.”

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Day 15: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Like a Feather D r i f t i n g Along the Roadside

The other day my son told me he felt I was “drifting” when it came to my work.

That was painful to hear and I can understand where he’s coming from. I feel like I’m drifting as well. I do a little work on decluttering. I do a little work on the Business Success from the inside Out Mastermind. I haven’t done much work at all on selling m clothes on eBay.

It’s easy to feel guilty and wrong.

I know it wasn’t Matt’s intent to make me feel bad. He was just making an observation but I’ve lived for so many years under the belief that moving forward quickly and purposefully toward some goal is “good” and not doing so is “bad.” It’s hard to avoid judging myself harshly.

On the other hand I do feel I’m having some big shifts around some of the beliefs that get me stuck in places of anger and resentment.

Staying at my parents this year has been remarkably stress-free. I usually feel a combination of resentment, anger, and sadness and this year I’ve been able to simply appreciate that time I’ve been spending with them and I’ve been able to appreciate them for themselves.

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Day 14: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Not Much to Report Today

Spent most of yesterday traveling to Chicago where I’ll be for the next week.

Although I didn’t feel much of an urge to shop I am aware of a lot of resentment coming up towards other people.

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Day 13: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

Letting Go of Perfectionism Through Forgiving

I’ve been reading the book, Radical Forgiveness by Colin Tipping and am finding it illuminating and inspiring given what I’m discovering about myself.

In my experience, when I do something that causes problems, the behavior and the pain tend to be symptoms of an underlying issue.

It’s tempting to focus on the symptoms as the superficial cause. When I do this, it sounds like “If this situation were different, I’d be happy.”

Meaning if I could change the external condition, everything would be fine.

Sometimes the external situations DO change and I think that creates the illusion that this is the way to go.

But the truth is I don’t have much power over anything outside of myself. In fact, usually, when a situation changes, it’s a reflection of an internal shift I’ve made.

The big enchilada shift for me has to do with the story I carry that I use to explain why I’m getting what I want. My story is “I won’t get chosen because I’m not good enough.” In life this has translated to “if it’s between me and another person (or my idea and someone else’s idea, etc) I won’t get chosen because the other person is (smarter, more outgoing, more talented, more confident, etc).

I assumed if I could just somehow get myself to believe I was enough things would shift.

The obstacle I keep running into is that belief has been reinforced and reinforced over many years and wanting to change the belief hasn’t been enough.

One thing I’ve resisted is forgiving people who I feel are responsible for my having this belief to begin with.

Not just my parents…there are lots of people in my past; some minor characters and some major characters who I feel did not do right by me.

I’ve resisted forgiveness because I’ve always felt:

  1. Forgiveness is one of the few powers I had as a victim. I could choose to forgive or to withhold my forgiveness. If I withheld my forgiveness I retained this power.
  2. It infuriates me to “let those people off the hook.” This is especially true where I believe someone has no remorse or regret for the pain they caused. It nettles me to no end. In my opinion they don’t deserve to be forgiven to begin with.
  3. It seems to me that the only people who truly deserve my forgiveness are those who apologize  and express sincere regret for their actions.

My resistance comes from the idea that forgiveness is a gift given to the person responsible for the wrongdoing and why on earth should I give such a gift to anyone who hasn’t earned it?

The problem I’ve discovered with this idea is of all the people who didn’t do right by me, the person who has hurt me most is me. So I have a lot of self-forgiveness to do and I now realize that it’s hard to feel worthy if I have all kinds of resentments and anger directed at myself. Self-compassion is going to be all but impossible.

Based on the recommendation of my coach, I started reading Radical Forgiveness and it’s been a fascinating.

The idea of Radical Forgiveness is that until we can begin forgiving those we feel have hurt us, we’ll just continue bumbling into situations that give us opportunities to re-experience those core injuries. The author, Colin Tipping offers a process to forgive in a way that allows for completion and healing. And once you forgive in this way, your emotional wiring shifts and the dynamics shift.

What I like about this approach is that it repositions forgiveness as a gift in which I am the primary beneficiary. And it feels like a more concrete way to shift these beliefs a more substantive, effective way than some of the other processes I’ve tried.

I haven’t yet done what I would consider a “complete” process of forgiving but I feel hopeful that this will help me have some relief from some of the beliefs I’ve been carrying that feel very heavy and hard to heal.


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Day 11: Kicking the Online Shopping Habit

What Would Epic A Do?

As I’ve been contemplating perfectionism I’ve been asking myself, what does it look like to be unconditionally lovable?

It’s hard for me to get there myself. I mean it’s hard for me to imagine myself as unconditionally lovable. Perfectionism is a hard habit to break. Every time I think about not doing something as well as possible a lot of resistance comes up.

So I’m using my cat, Gus, (A.K.A. Epic A) because I find it very easy to love Gus unconditionally.

We adopted Gus from a when he was barely 8-weeks old. He had the feline herpes virus which is very contagious and he had been separated from his litter mates and other animals.

Even when he was little Gus just got along well with people. He’s the kind of cat that greets you at the door and he always checks out visitors. My theory is that Gus was socialized at such a young age (he was barely weaned) he considers himself human or he considers us to be strange-looking cats.

Besides being very handsome, Gus has a very endearing “catsonality.” He seems to live his life assuming that everyone will love him and his needs will always be taken care of. Unlike most cats that meow and look worried when their bowl is empty, Gus purrs loudly and gives me friendly head butts until I figure out what he wants.

I nicknamed Gus “Epic A” for “Epic Adorableness” because he’s so naturally lovable. My teenage son cringes when I use this name because the word “epic” is so overused and because things the nickname “epic A” is just completely over the top in a nauseating way.

But I can’t help myself.

What’s important here is this: Gus does nothing useful in our home. Like most cats, he’s basically ornamental. But his lovability makes him incalculably precious to me. When I’m out of town, I miss him. When I return I can’t wait to get in the door to give him a cuddle and say hello.

In the scheme of things, my husband and son are way more important to me. There’s really no comparison. However, Gus is important because he’s the best example I can think of when I try to imagine what it would be like to be perfectly imperfect and yet be very easy to love.

When I described how I feel about Gus to a friend, she commented, “That’s how the Divine feels about you.”

This is a very beautiful idea and one I’d like to feel with ease. I believe when I feel that way about myself I am in the best possible position to do the work the Divine wants me to do.

So my question, “What would Epic A do?” is a serious one because Gus would never walk into a party with any worries about “will they like me? am I worthy of their attention?” He would be his curious, friendly self and assume he would be liked.

That seems like a really nice way to be in the world.

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