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It is not a big surprise if I tell you that we can’t change the past – we all know there is no way to turn back time. Still, we cling so strongly to memories and experiences of the past that we hardly enjoy the present. Especially negative memories, which can have a very deep impact on how we plan our lives and think about the future.

Because of this some people develop very negative thoughts. For example, constantly thinking about revenge and wishing a person suffers for the things they did to them. Or they are so affected by the difficulties they have been through that it is almost impossible for them to find happiness in their lives, then they become depressed and unable to help themselves or others.

Although you may not be able to see it, these kind of thoughts can be very harmful. They may lead to negative actions, if you succeed in carrying out the plans you made. But most of all these negative thoughts will take away your joy in life, awareness of the present moment, and the opportunities you have to become a better human being.

Actually, the best revenge you can take is not allowing other people to make your life miserable, don’t give them this kind of power or satisfaction. You are the one who controls whether you are happy or unhappy, no one else. It all depends on your mental attitude.

Of course we all face challenges in our lives, but we can face our problems with strength and courage or we can let ourselves down. We can allow the past to take over our present and future, or let go of the past and decide to turn our present and future into a better one.

I can tell from my own experience, letting go of negative things that happened in the past can be a great relief. It is like a great weight we have carried for so long being lifted from us. It makes us light and energetic to continue on our journey. As Indira Gandhi said, “Forgiveness is a virtue of the brave.” So, forgive yourself and others, be brave, let go of the past, and try to make every moment of your life meaningful.


I think therefore I am? – Only Human

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Last week was a heavy one in terms of clinical need. I was completing the latter half of a 12 day stretch and looking back at last week I realised I didn’t do enough self care. I missed my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu (BJJ) session last Monday as I was still feeling the effects of something dodgy I had eaten for lunch on Sunday. The instant weight loss was accompanied by instant energy loss from 36 hours of food poisoning.

My supervisor has been away for over a month and I am overdue for a professional supervision session, which I usually attend at least monthly. There are some months which are harder going in which I may need two sessions a month, and at times when it is especially severe even weekly sessions. The sessions allow me to reflect on my practice and how it affects me. I learn a lot from the sessions and have been attending regular sessions for the past 12 years. They have helped me become a better practitioner and are an important self-care practice.

Seasonal Affective Disorder isn’t usually a problem for me, but after the wettest Auckland July in many, many years I think I developed Rain Affected Despair. No it’s raining again, and again, and again. The down-pouring clouds have clouded my cognition. The constant humidity has led to this human feeling ‘mid’, as the young folks say. The real issue is I didn’t want my carefully styled hair to get wet after spending hours preparing it each morning. Also less opportunities for sunlight exposure.

I participated in many emotionally heavy conversations with patients and their family members last week. Many tears were shed. There were some tragic cases requiring my skills and some of them were challenging and pushed me to work at the top of my scope of practice. Professionally satisfying but the emotional labour was tiring.

I went without my usual Wednesday BJJ session due to a work commitment. I chose to attend a peer support network session as it only occurs once a quarter. It was good but took out another two hours from my day. I missed the physical aspect of BJJ but also the social aspect of catching up with club-mates.

By Friday, day 12, I was worse for wear and in need of a rest. The perfect storm had blown into my town and reminded me of my mere humanity. I have limits and am not a tireless robot. I will work on my self-care more this week, as I really need to.

I think therefore I am? – Gratitude Exercise

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Here’s something you could try doing that my writing in community friend Martha shared with me this week:

An assignment that literally changed my students’ lives. Extra credit (optional, and adds points to overall score). Make a list of 50 things you are grateful for in your life. Must use following format:

I am grateful for _________________ because __________________________.

One pt. for each line. Must complete 50. 49 won’t do. Must fill BOTH blanks for each line. You will get 50 points added to your grade.

Example: I am grateful for my grandma, because she makes me breakfast every morning.

I could tell you so many stories about this assignment! Not everyone chooses to do it. And sadly, not everyone is able to think of 50. If not being able to complete the assignment is perceived by the student as a problem, I see that as a good thing. I love coaching them to see things in their life to be grateful for. I can tell when a student has stretched and really starts to “get it.”

At the time I was in Phoenix, AZ, and I often got this response (one of my favorites) included in the list.

I’m grateful for my shoes, because without them I couldn’t walk anywhere when the sidewalk is so hot.

The last question of the assignment: Now that you’ve completed your list, look inside yourself. How do you feel? Has anything shifted?

Once in a while I would get a “no.” But of the 70% who actually answered the last question, almost everyone said that they experienced a shift. Some said they felt happier or more positive, while others said they realized they had so many good things in their lives that they hadn’t actually realized.

Palliverse’s Greatest Hits from Oct 2014 – #getjakbak revisited – Part 6

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Over the years I have noticed that when it comes to reunions of significant others that there can be a number of different outcomes. If someone has had to hang on, having reached the reunion might be akin to mission accomplished, and the person can deteriorate quickly after the meeting. Or else the person may receive a boost from the reunion and somehow it provides energy for them to carry on living, much longer than is to be expected.

The latter was the case with our patient, I knew that he was a strong man, with an unshakeable faith and strong willpower. I was surprised to learn from my Island contact that after the arduous journey our patient only stayed one night at the hospital, and was discharged the next day to his family’s home. What is it about the human spirit that can make it so resilient? The science can’t explain it, it is one of the mysteries of life. The importance of human connection, can keep you going, or bring you to a complete stop.

His prognosis had always been limited as he was very unwell throughout. The joy of reuniting with his siblings and their children really gave him a boost. 27 days he lasted before he died, which was impressive, and also fortunate as we could only provide him with 30 days’ worth of medications. He died just before he would’ve run out of his crucial medications.

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