What is compassion? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, compassion is a “sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.” In other words, you recognize that someone is suffering, and you try to help. Now “suffering” is the human experience that all cultures, communities, and individuals have felt at some point. Since most people do not “show” signs of suffering until/unless they are in critical moments. You may understand this within yourself as you will likely keep your suffering silent until the “right time” or “right audience” is present for you to share comfortably. And that is what every other person is doing too. So each person we meet can benefit from compassion.
Some simple ways to incorporate this into your own daily practice can include any of the following (and there are infinite ways to do this of course!):
- Smiling at a stranger (this is one of my regular favorites!)
- Let someone in front of you on the street with driving or in person when walking
- Giving someone the benefit of the doubt
- Send a thoughtful message to a friend going through a not-easy time
- Having SELF-compassion and not beating yourself up for imperfection
- Being fully present with a friend, family member or even stranger you’re speaking with
I have found that the closer we are (physically, genetically and/or emotionally), the more likely we will feel compassionately with another. And because I work most with Grief Recovery I have noticed that everyone carries “grief” which can be broadly understood as “suffering” and anyone can learn from such experiences too. I wanted to write about caregiving specifically today – since I work with many parents and we are all someone’s children too. So “caregiving” can be to a partner, child, parent or friend who is going through a not-easy experience. I find it very interesting that many learn something profound about their own abilities to share compassion in such situations. And since I believe learning is meant for ourselves through each of our life experiences, I’d like to encourage each person to think ahead about the habit of compassion.
If you watch a child receiving compassion you will see most often, a happy appreciation for the care. In adults this may be present momentarily and pass quickly as the receiver will most often be appreciative, then embarrassed by the vulnerability expressed. In the elderly, there may be no appreciation noticed – perhaps because of a dementia or perhaps because of trained patterns of behavior that a person did not mindfully-adjust in life. So the person who has trained the mind to be suspicious, judgmental or irritable through life will often show the same automatic reactions while aging or even close to dying.
Who/What Do You Want to Be?
It’s a good idea to watch how you respond/react to your own not-easy times.
When we are going through our own not-easy times, it’s very easy to get lost in our own emotions or details of our experience. Unless we consciously train ourselves to care for those around us regardless of what we are going through, we will likely be trained to blame, complain, and not appreciate the love around us. Many people distance or isolate themselves to avoid hurting or bothering others while they heal through such life experiences but this also does not train good behavior. Children know they are quite dependent on their caregivers so they appreciate the care naturally. Adults often think they are helping those around them by not burdening them with concerns. Yet we are all aging. This ability to hide for many will one day not be possible as a time often arises where one truly needs the support of another. Could be a friend or family member or could be a stranger in a hospital.
The “hiders” are often doing this to protect a loved one from suffering. If the behavior is not consciously-changed, the same result will often happen in the future as trained patterns will become very obvious. Not one of us knows when that time may happen for us. Many young adults go through very not-easy times. If a victim mind-set has already been established, they and everyone around them will not feel the fullness of compassion (and healing) that could more easily flow through for all.
Today, I encourage you to think of your own patterned reactions and choose to mindfully and Consciously create new responses that focus on the loving energy you know is at your core.
I am here to help so do reach out if you would like some assistance in your movement from reacting to responding – and know that this is possible. I believe that the regular comment from many of “that’s just who I am” or “that’s just my personality” or “I’m too old to change” (even in very young people from my perspective) is truly a cop-out (or even act of self-sabotage) from doing the work that will benefit yourself and the world around us (for now, think of those closest to you – or a favorite health-care practitioner that cares – they could easily be the recipients of your trained behavior). I believe that we owe such kind respect to one another by thinking ahead and planning humbly and honorably.
Kindly and Compassionately,
For short video clips that may help your journey do visit the rest of this website or visit my YouTube page: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCtAAm2qVoGiWTommQS5CRog/videos