Why Kindness and Compassion | Episode 1

Why Kindness and Compassion
Photo by Shane Rounce on Unsplash

The last few years have been tough for most everyone. We have (and are still) enduring a pandemic that has changed everything.  We are not only battling the COVID virus, but we are feeling the pinch of supply chain problems and rising prices, political divide and unrest.  People are living with a lot of fear and uncertainty.

 In my own life’s journey has been no exception. It’s been hard.  In addition to the whole COVID pandemic, I have gone through the death of my dad (just prior to COVID) and a whole list of problems for my wife who is fighting cancer and had some major surgeries.  She is disabled and requires round the clock care. 

I won’t sugar coat it… it’s been tough! Despite all this I have seen and experienced glimmers of hope.  It is through kindness and compassion that I have so far made it through.  Through my own therapy and the support of my community, we are making it through.

Sharing in People’s Lives

I have spent the last 20 years of my career as a psychotherapist and clergy person working with 100’s of people who are struggling and hurting.  And one of the realities of the whole COVID pandemic is that it has brought to light the mental health struggles of so many.   My own practice is overflowing and full.

The solution to all of this is simple but complicated… As a human race we need to learn how to better show kindness and compassion to one another. And not that this podcast will give definitive answers to how we do that, but hopefully be food for thought and instill some hope and motivation to at least change ourselves.  After all that is the only people we can change,,, it has to start with me.

The Dream of Hope

The idea for starting this podcast has been percolating in my mind for several years.  My motivation is that I have seen first hand people be changed and transformed by learning and practicing kindness and compassion.  Not only kindness and compassion for others, but kindness and compassion for themselves.

In this podcast I want to share ideas, stories and the science behind the practices of kindness and compassion. You will not only hear from me and some of my experiences in working with people in therapy, but you will hear from other experts and leaders in the fields of psychology, sociology, neuroscience and religion.

It’s All In The Brain

Here is what I know… All of us at various times in our lives struggle with emotional and physical hardships.  For some it is more traumatic than others.  And our brains have a physiological reaction to things that are hard.  There  is a part of our brains called the amygdala  that takes over and creates a “fight or flight” response. It’s part of the lower brain underneath the cerebellum.. It’s sole purpose is to keep us alive and safe.  And sometimes, it can take over so much, that people live with anxiety and are fearful much of the time.

 Learning New Ways of Being

The good news is that through the practices of Kindness and Compassion, we can re-train our brains to be more mindful and aware of when we are acting out of fear rather than compassion or kindness.  I have seen it over and over in my work with clients and others.  

By learning to act out of kindness and compassion, people are transformed.  The are living in less fear and are much more mindful. When people are able to do this, they are changed.  And it is my belief that when people are changed in this way, they also change the world.

I am excited that you are with me on this journey!  Take time to subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on social media.

Welcome to the kindness and compassion podcast, where we will explore the intersection of psychology science and spirituality. My name is Gordon brewer and I'm a licensed psychotherapist and mental health provider. I have spent my career helping people learn how to better manage their emotions and find more meaning in their lives and connection in their relationships. Join me as we think and talk about the ways we can find happiness and be content in our lives, through the practices of kindness. And we will talk with other experts in the fields of psychology, science, and religion. I'm so glad you're with me on this journey as we learn how to be at peace with ourselves and others.
Well, hello everyone. And welcome again to the kindness and compassion podcast. I'm Gordon brewer, and I'm so excited for you to join me in this first episode ever of this podcast, the kindness and compassion podcast. And this has been a, kind of a, a dream of mine or saw an inspiration of mine over the last several years as I'm recording this first episode here in January of 2022 we're still in the midst of a COVID pandemic. And depending on when you're listening to it to this, hopefully if you're listening to this first episode later on, we're out of it more, but it's certainly affected and has been kind of a catalyst for me wanting to start this podcast. I have another podcast called the practice of therapy and it's really geared more towards therapists and a specific niche is just helping therapists and private practice on the business side of things.
But my inspiration for starting this podcast has really come over, I guess, really kind of gelled and come together over the last several years. The idea of having a second podcast that was not necessarily related specifically to therapy kind of hit me as I was out on some of my morning walks. Part of my daily routine is to get out on walks and walk on our green belt here, where I'm located in east Tennessee and listening to other podcasts and really just trying to really kind of make sense of the world. Certainly what we've gone through over the last several years has had an effect on all of us and part of my own story and my own journey is, is that I've had a few other hardships besides COVID in that. I experienced the death of my father back in 2019, and then here more recently and kind of ongoing as just working through the, the struggles of having a spouse that is disabled and she is a survivor of breast cancer and has had just a lot of health issues.
And you know, how do I respond to that? And how is that plate into what my values are. And also just drawing on some of my spiritual beliefs or spiritual practices as well. A little bit about me, if this is, if you haven't read up on me on the website, kindness and compassion.com I'm, as I said, my name is Gordon brewer. I'm a licensed marriage and family therapist, and I have a private us in Kingsport, Tennessee where I have a group practice with five other therapists that are part of my group. But also in addition to my work and as a therapist and counselor, as I'm also a clergy person in the Episcopal church. And for those of you that might not be familiar with the epi church, the Episcopal church has been around a long time, and it is really kind of what has become of the Anglican or the church of England in the United States.
If you go back in history. So we are a Protestant denomination, we're a Christian and I am a deacon in the Episcopal church. So in, in that tradition, it's I considered a clergy person. Sometimes I wear a funny collar, but as I tell my clients or the people I work with in my therapy practice I don't like to catch people off guard with that. So but anyway, it certainly informs a big part of who I am in this whole journey. And just thinking about what I wanted to kind of my, why behind starting this podcast, as we've all experienced, particularly those of us living in the United States, we've gone through a lot of political unrest. And I think a big culmination of what has happened to us as a country happened about a year ago from when I'm recording this and where we saw some insurgent storm, the capital, and just the fear around all of that.
And one of the things that I've noticed not only in I practice, but just in general, is, is that right now, at least in my lifetime, we're living in a very fearful time. And a big part of the fear, I think is fear of each other. You know, one of the things about COVID is that it made us to be, even though we didn't necessarily see people as bad people or see others as bad, we really had to be careful about who we are around. And so it made us kind of have this, this sense of fear of people. And I think with the kind of the political divide that has happened and over this past year, but really longer than that ever since probably in 2016 when we elected a new president I think a lot of the fear just got kind of escalated.
I don't wanna be too political here, here, but I think one of the things about the former residents tenure is that it just kind of exacerbated the fear that we have of each other and some of our suspicions of people that are different than ourselves, and also maybe have different views and life experiences. So one of the things about starting this podcast is that I wanted to kinda give voice to a way for us to communicate with each other through kindness and compassion, to be able to kind of end some of the polarization that's happening in the world. I think that a lot of we are that way is that we have to kind of get into a little bit of brain science here. We've kinda let what I refer to as the lower part of our brain take over kind of the higher part of our brain.
So let me explain what I mean in our brains. When you look at the anatomy of a, a human brain, we have what, what we refer to as the cerebral cortex or the prefrontal cortex are the big part of our brain. And the fact that we've got a really big one of those is humans is what distinguishes us from all other animals. We've got a larges cerebellum, if you will. But part of the structure of the brain is, is that where the brain stem comes into the bottom of the brain, there's a whole other set of the brain, which is really kind of the lower part of the brain. And in particular, there's a part small part here. It's only, only just about the size of the end of your thumb, really. And it's called the Amy amygdala and that part of our brain, the its whole purpose is to keep us alive and help us survive.
It's what controls all the stuff that we don't really think about. It controls, you know, our breathing, our heart rate, it controls our eyes blinking to some degree controls when we get hungry or we're not hungry, all of those kinds of things, those autonomic functions are controlled in that area of the brain. But the one thing that it also does for us is it creates what we refer to as the fight or flight response when I'm working with my clients, my therapy clients, the way I like to explain it to 'em is, is if we were to imagine sitting in our room and all of a sudden a snake were to crawl out into the room, we would jump and we would be frightened and wouldn't really have to think about it. It would just that a amygdala would kick in and it's there to keep us alive to help us to be, to survive.
And it, it actually, it actually operates or actually is triggered 10 times faster than any other part of our brain. So where I'm going with this is, is that I think over this past year, and just for people in general, particularly people that have gone through a lot of trauma and a lot of hard things in their life, that part of their brain is really active. It's, it's almost too well. And so when we can understand that and when we can begin to be what I refer to as mindful about that, we can begin to slow things down enough to where we can begin to practice kindness and compassion. So kindness is something we do. It's the way I think about it. Kindness is something that we, we act on. There's if you listen to the trailer of this, I kind of told this story of a guy being in a grocery store and actually full disclosure.
That's story was a little bit about me and an experience I had. And so it was, it went like this. I was standing in line at the grocery store and I was actually in a, in a big hurry. And so I tried to pick the shortest line and there was a man, an older gentleman who was in line in front of me. And actually he was trying to use his food stamp up card that wasn't working to buy just a handful of groceries. And I was irritated that he couldn't get his card to work. And the clerk was, you could see kind of the, kind of the di the difficulty she was having, and just really trying to help this man and out of exasperation. And I won't, I'll be honest. It wasn't necessarily out of kindness, but out of exasperation, I said, well, how much does he need to buy those groceries?
Because there wasn't wasn't much there and it, and it came to about $25 or so. And so I said, let me just buy his groceries. And he and the man looked at me kind of engine. He kind of protested a little bit that I wanted to buy his groceries for him. And I said, no, it's, it's on me. Let me, let me just help you out this, this one time. And so I, I went ahead and pulled my credit card out and paid for his groceries. And really, if I'm quite honest about this, it was just because I was in a hurry and I didn't want to be troubled with him fumbling with his card that wasn't working and, and all of that sort of thing. But, but after I did that, the way the man looked at me and just said, you know, thank you.
You don't know what a difference this has made for me, my, my heart, my attitude, and all of that was changed. I actually began to feel compassion for the man that maybe I didn't have there in the beginning. So what I was able to do in that moment, if we look at the science of it was to slow my brain down enough to just act out of kindness. And when I did that, it created a change for me internally. And so it was out of an experience like that, that I thought about what are, who are the other people that have had experiences like that, where their lives have really been changed, maybe in just a small way through the practices of kindness and compassion. And so that's, what I hope to do in this podcast is to create for people ways to begin to practice kindness and compassion in the, their lives, to be able to go out into the world and make a difference maybe in just small ways.
So here's my big dream is that I want to be able to start interviewing people leaders, just in either leaders in religion or the faith communities, also people that are psychotherapist or science or familiar with psychology. Also just science in general, to talk about this topic, to be able to better understand, to be how teach people, how to be more mindful about what they're doing to have better control over their emotions and their lives, to be able to have better and more meaningful relationships. And as I've learned through my work over the last 20 years as a therapist, when people are able to do that, not only show kindness and compassion to others, but show kindness and compassion to themselves, things begin to change for people. People begin to be more content in life. They begin to find greater sense of happiness and their lives seem to go much better overall.
And so needless to say, all of that sounds easy on the surface, but it's a complicated thing because we are human beings. We live in a very complicated and sometimes fearful fearful world. And so my hope is, is that as you listen to this podcast and listen to the people that I hope to have as guests on the podcast, you're gonna be able to experience some kindness and compassion in a different way that will transform your life. That will make you see your life through a differently ends. And by doing that just one person at a time, I think we can change our world. At least that's my hope. That's my big audacious dream, if you will, to, to be able to accomplish through this podcast. So here's, here's my challenge to you. I'd love for you to reach to me and you can just email me at hello, kindness and compassion.com.
And also if you'll go over to that website, address kindness and compassion.com, you'll see a form there for, so you can sign up for the newsletter that I'm gonna be putting out. That's just gonna be filled with just, you know, resources and things that people can do to begin to practice kindness and compassion in their lives. And to be able to find, I guess greater emotional intelligence is one, one term I'd like to throw out there for you. And again, that's gonna be something that this podcast is about is gonna be about how, how people can learn greater emotional intelligence. In other words, how they manage their own emotions and also the emotions of what other people hand to them through the resources that you hear through the pod podcast. And then just through interviews that I planned to do in our next episode, after this one, I want you to listen in to a conversation I had with a colleague of mine, Kayla Tapia, and Kayla and I had had originally planned to kind of co-host this podcast, but life being as it is, and Kayla doing some great boundary setting for herself.
She's not gonna join me right away, but I did want you to listen into kind of our first conversations, one on what is kindness and compassion. And number two is on what is gratitude because one big practice, this of kindness and compassion comes out of practicing gratitude. And so where we have a conversation about that, and I want you to listen in on that, just from the perspective of two psychotherapists or two people in the mental health field just thinking about those that particular topics. So be sure and check out those, those other, other two episodes here at the beginning, I'm doing just some prerecorded episodes so that you'll have some content to listen to as you follow and subscribe to us wherever you might be listening to your podcast. And that's the purpose of this introductory first one.
Also just a as I've already given to you a little bit of is just talking about my, why behind the podcast. Also, if you're listening to the podcast and you feel like you would have something to add to this topic, either as an expert, either in the fields of psychology, religion, or science or whatever, I'd love to have you as a guest. And you can go to our about page on kindness@kindnessandcompassion.com and can fill out the application there to be a guest on the podcast. Also, if you have just had a life experience or a story to tell about times when you've practiced kindness and compassion, or even experienced kindness and compassion I'd love to hear those stories and love to have you on the podcast to tell those stories. So again, you can go to that go to that same go to the about page on kindness and compassion.com.
And you'll see a link there for to be a podcast guest. And that'll put you through to a Google forum to, to fill that out, to sign up and see if you see if this is something that we can have you do on the podcast. So anyway, glad you're joining me on this journey. I've got just so many stories to tell and looking forward to having people, the guests that getting lined up for the podcast, be sure and take time to follow us wherever you might be listening to it. And also share it with your friends. If you think think you might have some friends that would be interested in learning more about this topic and how to practice it in their life. Have 'em have 'em come over and listen to us. So anyway, take care folks. And I'm so glad you're with me on this journey, do take time to follow and subscribe to the podcast.
Whichever way you do that on the applications. You're listening to your podcast and go over to kindness and compassion.com and check it out. And you can always email me@helloatkindnessandcompassion.com, take care folks, and look forward to being with you in our future episodes. I'm so excited about this, a podcast in case you can't tell, take care, you have been listening to the kindness and compassion podcast with Gordon brewer, part of the psych craft network of podcast. Please visit us@kindnessandcompassion.com for more information, resources, and tools to help you in your journey. Be sure to follow us wherever you listen to your podcasts. And if you haven't done so already be sure to sign up, to get the free kindness and compassion practices guide. Again, you can find that@kindnessandcompassion.com, the information in this podcast is intended to be accurate and authoritative concerning the subject matter cover. It is given with the understanding that neither the hosts guests or producers are rendering clinical medical, mental health, or legal advice. If you need a professional, you should find for that.

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L. Gordon Brewer Jr., LMFT |Podcast Host – Gordon has spent his career in helping professions as a licensed therapist, counselor, trainer, and clergy person.  He has worked with 100’s of people in teaching them the how to better manage their emotions through self-care and the practices of kindness and compassion.  Follow us on Instagram and Facebook .  And be sure to subscribe to our newsletter.



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