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Dr. Cat’s Helping Handbook

By Gill Whitby

helpinghand.gifThe day this book came into my life I was at a very low ebb. After several days of extreme arthritic pain and horrendous global warming high winds I was definitely in need of a helping hand.

Upon opening this treasure I was immediately aware of a sense of empathy and understanding from the author and an awareness of the beauty and strength of her vulnerability.

It is a very difficult thing to be honest and open to those around us about the dark places we have visited in our lives. Now and then though the heavy clouds of confusion and despair a shaft of sunlight can open our eyes to the endless possibilities and choices that lie before us.

This book says ‘pick me up and see if I can help’. It will appeal to readers at whatever level they find themselves on their life’s journey.

For myself I found it has an easy flow about it and does not stick rigidly to beginning, middles and end. It contains many short anecdotes and some amazing quotes by some famous and not so famous people that help to drive it forward.

The book is full of practical exercises and useful insights to help ease the way through any day. For those who desire a good companion and a wise friend it is a must read.

One of Cat’s ideas is to use a five-minute pause before doing a compulsive or addictive habit, which can be a break from smoking to interrupting obsessive thoughts. Once the five-minute break has become a habit she also introduces ideas that can be used during these breaks, for example:-

The Compassionate Thought Game.

When you pause for a five-minute break, imagine the most compassionate thought you could have about yourself. Play with this thought for a few minutes, and see if any images come to mind. Can you see yourself and your situation right now with accepting eyes and a tender heart?

If you have trouble feeling compassionate toward yourself, pretend that you are one of your best friends – or perhaps a favourite sweetheart, a companion animal, a special teacher, or a saint. When you have switched perspectives, imagine that you are looking at yourself though his or her eyes, the eyes of someone who unconditionally loves and accepts you.

Practice having this feeling of compassion for yourself until it becomes second nature. After you’ve mastered it in small ways, extend this kind-hearted perspective to situations where you may be judging yourself in other ways. Remember that five-minute breaks can be used not only for substance or behaviour addiction, but also for addiction to compulsive ways of thinking.

Personally, I can usually recognise my most compassionate thought by noticing my body’s reaction. When such a thought enters my mind, my body relaxes, and I may literally breathe a sigh of relief. Find out how your body feels when you have compassionate thoughts, then cultivate those thoughts. When you treat yourself with openheartedness, you will naturally treat others in the same way. Kind thoughts are contagious. Spread them around!