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!

 

What Love Language Do You Speak?

We all have our own way in which we love others and how we feel love from others.  It is so easy to assume that the way we naturally are compelled to love someone is the how we should go about it.  But what happens when the way they receive love is different?

In Gary Chapman’s book The 5 Love Languages he lists the love languages as words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service and physical touch.  My natural way of giving love is acts of service and sometimes words of affirmation.  My husband’s way in which he receives love is physical touch.  This can cause problems.  My acts of service are not always physical, sometimes it is about being there to emotionally support someone.  I do a lot of this type of thing for my husband but all he wants is for me to play with his hair, hold his hand, rest my hand on his knee or something like that.  This leaves him not fully feeling the love I have for him.  He can logically understand and see my love for him but that is not the same as feeling it.  It is my job, as someone who loves him to be aware of loving him the way he needs to be loved.

I feel love from words of affirmation, my husband shows love through physical touch.  Again, this can be difficult.  We have both come a long way in learning to love each other the way that we each can feel it and in learning to ask for what we need when we need it.  I have found that when you have relationships where you are given love in the way you can receive it, not only is their deeper intimacy and a greater sense of well being, there is also a sense of being supported on a deep level.0810141255

What better gift could you give to someone than meeting them where they are and loving them in a way they can really feel loved.  Through learning how to love someone and learning how you want to be loved you dramatically increase the intimacy in your relationships and you can also be loved in a way you can feel love more deeply than you have before.  It takes vulnerability and presence to follow through with this.

Do you know how you want to be loved?  Do the people in your life know how you want to be loved?  This is wonderful tool to have in your toolbox.  It is not just for your romantic partner, it is useful with your children, friends, and work relations.  The 5 love languages web site has a quiz you can take to learn which love language is yours.  This knowledge is a great gift for you and your loved ones.  What better time of year is there to give and receive love in a language that you can understand.

Take Responsibility and Take Your Power Back

Responsibility is not a four letter word.  Really, it isn’t.  Taking responsibility means owning your power and stepping away from victim hood.  We all of ways of being that get in our way of making the choices that will help us get there, yet we are responsible for healing those parts of us in order to live the life we want.  If we want to take our power back it is up to us to do the work, to take the steps that will heal us, free us, and empower us to live the life we want.

It is important to identify the patterns we have created and the purposes they serve in our lives.  Sometimes we find ourselves continually “triggered” by someone’s actions.  This can be a wonderful opportunity to look at what is going on within us that is causing this reaction.  In all honesty, we do not create these patterns with the intention of being stuck.  Rather, they are created to keep us safe and in a familiar situation where we can be surrounded by the known instead of the unknown.  What are the patterns and what purpose do they serve?  Frequently, we find that these patterns do not serve the purpose for which they were intended. I use to always feel alone and I would never reach out for support when I needed it.  I continually found myself feeling rejected and unlovable.  When I did the work to look at this dynamic I discovered I kept myself isolated to not feel rejected or unlovable but there I was feeling that way.  This was self-defeating and a self-fulfilling paradigm that kept me stuck.  There I was in victim hood, struggling to find someone blame.  When we develop a way of being in order to keep us safe we find that we are not, in fact, safe.  We are simply in an unsafe situation that we have become accustomed to.

The next thing that will help us find our freedom is to take steps to heal the pain/trauma that prompted us to create the patterns in the first place.  This is not always easy.  Identifying these patterns and their root causes can be enough to make the changes that will transform our lives.  Other times there is deep long-term core work that we need to undergo in order to achieve the changes we are seeking.springofferwebsite

Long-term work does not mean postponing changes.  We ask ourselves, “What do I want to do differently?”  If you want freedom from a job or relationship or if you are seeking more fulfillment and connection in your life you need to create small steps.  This can feel risky!  Thoughts of failure, worthiness and ability can come up and block us from the path we have created.  This is where the old patterns emerge, trying to keep us in the rut we have been living in.

If you find yourself blocked, it is important to look at what emotions are blocking you and what behaviors are preventing you from moving forward.  Working through these blocks and behaviors are part of working through the trauma.  Keep working on it.  Freedom is just around the corner.

Through this healing process (I recommend working with a professional if you find you are having difficulty doing it on your own) you will find your power, you will find your ability to take responsibility for your actions, behaviors and emotions.  Your reactions to other people’s behaviors will no longer have the same effect on your well being.  You will find that your inner balance will be determined by you while other people’s actions will not influence your actions.  You will learn to detach from others and trust in your own inner knowledge.  One small step at a time you will find you can create the life that you have been striving for.

Begin today!  You are the one with all the power in your life.  You can choose now to take it back.  You can take responsibility for the dreams you have been wanting to achieve all your life.