Posts Tagged ‘gentleness’

Are You Angry at Yourself? Probably – Even if You Don’t Think so

Saturday, November 30th, 2013

You may already know that anger can have negative effects on both your emotional and physical well-being. I will describe some of those effects later in this post.

But before I do, I want to point out something most people don’t think about, which is this: when most of us think about anger and being angry, we think about someone we’re angry at, or about something that happened to us that made us angry and upset. We remember getting angry when something happened to us that wasn’t fair, like getting sick or losing our job – or both. We get angry at our government for passing bad laws or for not passing laws we know are needed.

But when we think about anger and being angry, rarely do we think about our anger at ourselves. However, most if not all of us have some–and some of us have a lot of it.

We get it from not being the way we think we should be. We get it from not having the willpower we think we should have. We may have it because we haven’t taken good care of ourselves or from not staying true to our values. We can get angry at ourselves because we got sick—even though we’re not to blame for that happening. And we can be angry at ourselves for countless other reasons.

Whatever the reasons and wherever they came from, whether we are aware of it or not, virtually all of us have some anger at ourselves. And that self-anger can have the same negative effects on our emotional and our physical well-being as anger at others does.

Those effects include weakening our immune system, high blood pressure, problems with digestion, skin problems, heart attacks, strokes, anxiety and depression, and many others.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has stated that 85 percent of all diseases appear to have an emotional element. I think the percentage is even higher.

So if most of us have some self-anger, and that anger has negative effects on our emotional and physical well-being that makes our lives worse, what can we do?

The first thing we can do is to look and see if there are things we’re angry at ourselves for, things we’ve forgotten or never acknowledged in the first place. Then when we find that anger, we can do the same thing we can do when others do things that hurt and upset us: Just as we can forgive them, we can forgive ourselves.

In one way, it’s often easier to forgive ourselves than it is to forgive others. That’s because it’s easier to forgive people who apologize for what they did, but other people often don’t ever apologize. But we can always apologize to ourselves, and when when we do that, and mean it, it is a lot easier for us to forgive ourselves. So I strongly recommend that you take the time and make the effort to forgive yourself.

The next thing you can do is to be gentle with yourself and have lots of understanding compassion for both the part of you that has been hurt and angry and for the part that caused the hurt and anger. Remember that the part of you that did that was doing the best it knew how and was not intentionally trying to hurt you or make you angry and upset.

Healing self-anger can make a very big difference in your life. One of my clients recently discovered that because of her anger at herself, anger that she didn’t realize she had, she had been punishing herself for years. When she forgave herself and stopped doing that, she had a big breakthrough and experienced a miraculous shift in her often difficult relationship with her husband.

Whether or not you have a breakthrough, I am certain that healing any self-anger you have, by apologizing, forgiving, and having compassion for yourself, will have a very positive effect on your physical and emotional well-being.


Tom Robinson, who has a chronic illness (Crohn’s disease) himself, helps people with chronic illnesses meet their many challenges and then find and follow a path to happiness and fulfillment.

Get his free report, Has Living with a Chronic Illness Worn You Down? Learn How to Outsmart Your Illness and Have a Much Better Life.

You Truly Need Gentleness and Compassion–from Yourself

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

If you have read more than a few of my posts, you know that I frequently recommend that you be gentle and compassionate with yourself when you are experiencing painful symptoms or having a hard time because of your illness. I do that because I have seen, again and again, how people’s lives change significantly– and often dramatically– for the better when they do.

I have also seen, again and again, that many people have a hard time being gentle and compassionate with themselves. But that isn’t all that surprising, because few if any of us were taught to do that by our parents, teachers, or mentors. I sure wasn’t.

However, it is definitely possible to learn how to be that way with ourselves. I have, and so have the many people I’ve taught.

Some of those I taught learned how to be gentle and compassionate with themselves when I asked them how they would feel and what they would do for someone they cared about who had the same illness and the same symptoms and pain they did – and then asked them to have the same feelings for themselves. Others understood the concept when I asked them what they would do if they found a helpless injured bird. For those clients who were especially hard on and critical of themselves for not being able to do all the things they could before they became ill, I asked them if they would criticize the bird for not being able to fly. Their answer, of course, was always no, and they usually realized that their criticism of themselves was not justified or called for. Still others learned to be gentle and compassionate with themselves when I had them imagine how they would feel if their beloved dog or cat got injured, and then had them imagine how the animal would feel when it got the compassion and reassurance they would automatically and spontaneously give it.

Clients who were directly involved in helping people in difficult situations make their lives better often had very dramatic “aha’s” when they suddenly realized that they could give themselves the same gentle, compassionate caring they were giving others.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I have seen many, many people with chronic illnesses experience significant and often dramatic improvements in the quality of their lives when they give themselves gentleness and understanding. Here’s what a client with recently wrote about giving herself compassion and how it helped her: (Note: the hard work she refers to is giving herself compassion. It can be hard to do at first, but the results make the effort very worthwhile.)

“My coaching sessions with Tom over the last several weeks have brought me a level of peace, understanding and acceptance about living with a chronic illness that I never envisioned was possible. His masterful approach to helping you to extend the compassion to yourself that you would extend to a treasured friend experiencing similar challenges is brilliant and effective. You do the hard work, gently and compassionately guided by Tom, and before you know it you have opened yourself up to see beyond your condition to all that you still have to offer. For the first time in a very long time, I look forward to each day with joyful expectations.”

Somerset, NJ

Because of the difference it will make in your life, I encourage you to give yourself all the compassion you possibly can. And if you are one of those who have a hard time doing that, I hope you will take a good look both inside yourself and in the mirror, and realize that you truly deserve lots and lots of compassion.

Bill Clinton said it

Wednesday, May 6th, 2009

There is a phrase Bill Clinton is known for – a phrase that helped him get elected in 1992. He first said it to an unemployed man at a town hall meeting, and then repeated it in other situations during his campaign. The phrase I’m referring to is: “I feel your pain,” and it can help you feel better.

I know that many of you are in pain. Some of you are in a lot of pain. I have a suggestion for you that has helped my clients, and I’m confident it will help you too: say Clinton’s famous phrase out loud, in the bathroom, to your own reflection in the mirror. Say it at least once, and preferably several times, each day. And when you do, say it because you mean it, and not because you want to be elected President  🙂   (my attempt at humor notwithstanding, it’s really important that when you tell yourself that you feel your pain, you really mean it).

If you’re curious about why I give this suggestion to my clients with chronic illnesses and am giving it to you now, here’s the reason: I’ve learned that people with chronic illnesses often don’t let themselves feel or acknowledge their pain. And when they don’t, they are much less likely to treat themselves with gentleness and understanding or give themselves the compassion they need and deserve.

I know from my years of coaching that giving yourself compassion and understanding–which starts with feeling your own pain–is one of the most important things you can do for yourself to have a better life. I hope you’ll try it and see for yourself.