Compassion: a gift for you, a gift for the world!

A friend of mine posted on Facebook “What breeds compassion?”  I love this question.  If we are looking for compassion in our lives one of the most important questions we can ask ourselves is what can I do to offer compassion.  First let’s define what compassion is and isn’t.  Compassion is empathy, listening, support, asking what you can do to help the person through action, words, touch or time.  Compassion is not feeling bad for someone, asking what they are doing wrong, trying to fix it for them or judging them.  When we show someone compassion we create a space for them to be in their truth without judgement and when we are shown compassion we can come to the table without defensiveness and can show compassion in return.

So many of us are feeling a lot of negative emotions right now- fear, loss, confusion and uncertainty.  How can we “breed compassion” in the midst of these emotions?  One step at a time!  Take the time to offer yourself compassion first, then others, then compassion to the thing or person that you are having difficulty with.

When we feel that we are receiving compassion when we feel seen, heard and loved.  So how do you feel those things?  Acknowledge what you are feeling and going through.  See yourself in your dynamic, full paradoxical self.  Ask yourself what you need to feel held and seen.  Do for yourself what will fill your cup and/ or seek out the people who support that for you.  When we are able to show ourselves compassion the compassion we show others becomes more authentic.  It can be hardest to show ourselves compassion because we often judge ourselves harder than anyone else can judge us.  Compassion is not loving someone because they are without fault, it is loving them in the full spectrum of who they are.  The wounded pieces of ourselves that can create our shortcomings are the pieces that need compassion the most.  How can you love your “unlovable” parts?  Compassion.

For many of us, showing others compassion is easier than showing compassion to ourselves.  Being compassionate to others gives them the platform to show up in an authentic and honest way.  Having compassion is not saying that they are perfect or that some unacceptable behaviors are ok. Rather, it is saying “I see you in your complex humanity and you are lovable, you are worthy”.  Imagine how this can transform shame.  When I am in a shame place I am not showing up to express my love or passion.  When I am in shame, I am judging myself so harshly that I fear being seen. When I am shown compassion in this place I become comfortable enough to look at this piece of me and transform it into something that can serve me and others.  I believe we are born love, out of love and into our expression of love.  This love is at the root of our desire for connection and when we show others compassion we are inviting a human connection as opposed to judgements that separate us.  Connection says we are alike; this is compassion.sunSHINE

The hardest things/people to show compassion to can be the things/people that we fear or possibly even hate.  How do we show compassion to the person who so completely lives in disregard to everything around them?  How do we show compassion to the things or people that do things that directly cause us harm?  Now this is a touchy subject.  I by no means believe that people should ever accept abuse or harmful behavior from someone under the guise of forgiveness or compassion.  For my own spirit and mental balance, I may hold compassion for that person.  In my early 20’s I spent 1 ½ years in an abusive relationship. For most of that time I held myself in shame which made excuses for my abuser.  Today I hold compassion for him in my heart.  I have not seen or spoken to him in 12 years but I know he is a wounded soul.  My compassion shows me that because he was raised in an extremely physically and sexually violent home he had no choice to learn these things as a child (which does not excuse him for not learning a different thing as an adult).  I have heard that he is still living the same life he was when I was with him.  He is miserable, self-hating, self-destructive and lost.  I don’t know if he will ever find love for or from others, yet I pray he will because just as you are part of me, he is part of me, we are all connected.  Through seeing the connections of everything we can find compassion for everything.  Through this compassion, I can look at my abuser and know that he acted out of fear and when I am in a place of fear I can also present from a place of anger.  The seeds are within all of us- we are all human.

When we are compassionate to ourselves, our loved ones and our “enemies” we open a healing within us that promotes healing and humanity in our relationships and the world.  I think of the saying “A chain is only as strong as its weakest link” and I think humanity is that chain.  Every link I help make stronger, the chain becomes stronger.  Every link I make weaker, the chain becomes weaker.  What do I want to do with my tools and abilities?  What differences can I make in my family, my relationships, the world, this chain of humanity?  What changes can I make within myself by using compassion?    My hope for the world is that you have compassion for yourself, that is the starting place of a true revolution!

 

Breathe: Inhale, Exhale

In this blog I frequently talk about tools and ideas to help people find a way to achieve a goal or shift a perspective.  Well, today I am writing a blog to myself.  I am hoping that as I go through this process I will find some answers for myself.  I have teenage sons. Often times I am on the ball and my home is a well-oiled machine where we have balance and harmony, fun and laughter.  Unfortunately, this is not one of those times.

About a month ago my 17 year-old decided he was an adult and no longer had to come home, tell me what he was doing or where he was going.  Some nights he would simply choose to stay out and not come home.  As time has gone on he is getting worse and more disrespectful.

This past week has been especially trying. He has chosen to not come home for the past 3 days and I have just now found out where he has been.  I have been sitting at home since Monday feeling frozen and unable to do anything but wait for resolution to come. I have been wondering what I can do in this place of uncertainty, unknowing and fear.  How can I support him, love him and still live my life, function and accomplish all the things I need to do?

Well, there are a few things I have come up with.  I want to share them thwith you because I believe that we, as humans, have a tendency to get stuck when things get hard.  We freeze, fight or fly and these options may not be useful.  What can we do that will be truly productive in getting the life we want and reaching our goals?  These are the steps have I found useful.

The most important thing I need to do is breathe.  No, seriously, just take a moment and breathe, nothing else.  I make an effort to do this without wondering what will happen, or what to do next.  I don’t multi task, I just intentionally breathe.  I take the time to be present in my body and still in my mind.  As I let myself breathe, I release the tension I am holding in my body and let go of the fear and attachment to outcome.

I ask myself what I need, have I eaten, showered, etc.   I make sure my basic needs are provided.  If there is nothing I need at that moment I go about my day.  The place I get stuck is in a feeling of “I don’t know what to do”.  I know the dishes need to be done, laundry washed and folded, appointments need to be made with clients, blogs written, the list goes on.  But I sit there stuck, what do I do?  So I have found it useful to make a list.  Today I need to….  There is no wondering what needs to be done it is written down in black and white.  I do what needs to be done one thing at a time.

Of course these are the things that I do after I have asked myself what I can do in this situation to change the current circumstances or help foster resolution that is beneficial on all levels.  In this particular case I can ask myself what my son needs, what is he missing, what is creating this behavior and how can we come to a better place where he is safe happy and feels loved and supported?

Lastly, I allow myself to be where I am and feel what I feel.  I started with writing about letting go and I end with acceptance.  I don’t try to deny any part of the process I am going through.  I allow whatever needs to come up.  I am present with myself.  And when I find these things difficult I return to my breath.

Inhale

Exhale