In part one of this article on compassion we looked at how compassion is affecting me. In part two I will look a little more inwardly at my journey of compassion, and some things I’m working on, and that you can try, to be more compassionate.
“How people treat other people is a direct reflection of how they feel about themselves.” – Paul Coelho
On one side of the coin we have compassion. On the other is lack of compassion – coldness.
I know we all suffer, and it is at these times we look for compassion. You won’t always find it unfortunately. I’ve been in situations of suffering and seeking understanding and received the very opposite. This left me feeling hurt. I used to blame myself, and believed something was wrong with me. Now, looking at what Paul Coelho (a beautiful writer and philosopher) wrote, I firmly believe that people express what is going on inside of them. If you lack love for yourself, you can’t express it. If you feel angry and bitter inside you, that is how you will be with others. I’ve been like this, and I’ve experienced this. The sad, and great thing, about this is that by knowing this we can correct it. Choose to. Easy. My journey continues. What I can tell you is to make sure you have the right people in your support network.
Being compassionate is a powerful healer. Lack of compassion can accentuate suffering.
It all starts inside you. You are a reflection, and echo, of what is within. If you are not compassionate toward yourself, you cannot genuinely express compassion for others is my belief.
“Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognised moral qualities of men.” – Confucius
How do we show our humanity and compassion?
We have to show compassion for ourselves. Call it self-love, or self-compassion. We can start there, or start by showing compassion to others. In developing an ability to express compassion for myself I have found that, sometimes, looking outwards to something bigger than ourselves helps us grow. Practising compassion with others certainly can help, so this is where I’ll start.
Some things I’ve been trying out as I’ve been on my journey, and practising to improve my one-on-one compassion is:
- Recognise the person you are with is human. They’re imperfect, have been injured and are broken and suffering in some way. Unfortunately, or fortunately, we’re all imperfect. Suffering is universal.
- Pretend the person you are being compassionate with is your best friend. It may be. You wouldn’t be critical of your best friend in a time of need, you’d be there for them to listen and empathise. Don’t judge them. We don’t fully know their journey, their feelings, dreams and fears and anxieties. Don’t criticise. Who gave us the right to caste judgement and criticism on others? We’re all imperfect remember.
- Listen to understand. The key here is that you’re not necessarily listening to the words or what they’re directly saying. What you want to listen for and understand is their emotions. “I understand”, is often enough. I’ve found that when you ask someone how they are, especially a male, they’ll answer “good”, or “not bad” – even if you know they’re in a tough place. Men especially will use their self-protection barriers to deflect stuff from their soft side. Anything where emotions are concerned, it is like Captain Kirk ordering the shields up on the USS Enterprise. Don’t rush to solutions. Just listen and feel.
- Consider your communication tone and style. You need to be warm. I’ve been terrible at this – and with Lisa coaching me, am improving I hope. In the past I’ve only known pretty much a cooler practical style. This hasn’t served me well – and is not the way to show compassion.
- Be there fully – right now. There is no other time. No other person. Right now is all that matters. Right here, right now. You owe it to that person. I’m practicing my mindfulness, and trying to put it into action. This is really powerful stuff and has helped me personally a lot.
- Keep trying. You’ll make mistakes. Forgive yourself. Keep working at it. I’m a shocker at beating myself up. I’m constantly messing up – but having driven anyone over the edge yet. I guess high standards are good – but give yourself a break.
Now – look at this list again. You can’t move on in life in a positive way without being compassionate to yourself. For self-compassion the very same things apply. When you have your personal conversations – do the very same thing. The additional thing you can do to enhance your self-compassion is practise acts of kindness. See how it feels. Practise mindfulness. It’s beautiful.
And remember – it is not a selfish act to be compassionate toward yourself. If you don’t fully forgive and love yourself, how good can you be for others. This is essential.
I feel compassion for the people, our human family, in Nepal. I can’t express it to them. They’re suffering. How can you be compassionate to a statistic? They need things of a more basic nature than compassion – but our humanity, and feelings of compassion, should motivate us to act. Every act of kindness we perform helps others – but of more importance to us is, it helps us.
Start with one person, and take it from there.
In another article in my upcoming Supporter series, where I provide insights and support to those of you supporting others, I look in more detail at how to provide compassion to others.
EKO is about supporting individuals grow positively – and I’d love to see us grow into a large community of people supporting people to unstuck themselves, to grow positively, to move past their suffering or angst. Be more compassionate.
Thanks again for investing time in reading this – my hope is that it will achieve our goal of supporting you grow into the best “you”. If there is anything you would like written about, please let me know. If there is anything you would like support on or to discuss, please go to our blog and forum pages. As always, if you believe this was of value, please share it with those who you feel will get value from it.
All the best,