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.

The importance of looking at your shadows and learning to shine through them

In spiritual communities there is a lot of talk about “Love and Light”, “energy work” and being positive.  These are all extremely important things.  It is important for us, as individuals, to be able to see all the wonderful things in our lives and have a sense of gratitude.  It is important to be aware of our energy and find ways to have compassion for others and ourselves.  But what about the things that block us?  Some say that we need to only focus on the positive and when we give space to the things that block us or cause us pain we are, in a sense, counteracting any positive thoughts or feelings that we may be having.  Debbie Ford wrote a book about this called The Dark Side of the Light Chasers.  Like her, I happen to think that looking at the things that block us or the things that are “negative” can be a pathway to the light.

You know the saying about two sides to every coin, well for me a coin is light and shadow.  Carl Jung described the shadow self as being the part of self that we deny or cover up because it is in some way unacceptable to us.  Have you ever said “I will never be like…” and then you find yourself doing the same things you vowed to never do.  This is shadow.  The biggest example of this in my life was saying I would never be like one of my parents and then when I had children all was well for a while until it wasn’t. I have caught myself being like my parent more times than I would like to count.  Repeatedly I have found myself talking to my children in a manner that I am not proud of. Saying I would never be like that wasn’t enough, focusing on the light was not enough. I needed to take a look at the roots of my actions and words, where they came from and what I was trying to get from my behaviors.  I had to ask myself “what did that energy want?”

Through looking at the roots of my behaviors, which was looking into my shadow self, I was able to take that part of me, heal it, and continue to grow in a direction that was better for not only me but for my children too.  Because I was willing to look at my shadows I was able to become the mother my children deserved.  Looking at your shadow does not mean taking on guilt or shame.  It means acknowledging your actions and thoughts, asking what it is that the behavior wanted and working together with the “energy” of that to find a way to transform it into energy that would serve and support you instead of harm you and pull you down.

Shadow Work® is a tool created by Cliff Barry, based on Jungian psychology, which talks about shadow as the things that we have put into a bag to be hidden from society as a result of messages we receive about parts of us not being good enough or acceptable.  What if these same parts were the pieces that contained our light?  What if there was a gift to the world that we had within ourselves that we were told was wrong and we hid it away?  This is why it is so important to look in the bag and pull out those pieces, shine them up for the world to see.  I like to think of these pieces as parts of ourselves that we have had to cut off (deny), in order to fit into the box that we have been told we should be in.  Eventually we will come to a place where we want to get out of the box and live more fully.  How can we do that when we no longer have all our pieces?

We become a full functioning human being one step at a time!  We look at the pieces we have denied, one at a time.  When I was young I received the message that I was not worthy of support and I was all alone. So a piece of me that I cut off was “need” and I went through my life taking care of myself and not letting anyone support me in any way.  I got to the point where I didn’t know how to receive help or even ask for it in a way that was clear.  This perpetuated my story of being alone and not supported which left me with another story about not being worthy.  To figure out how to invite “need” back into my life I had to get VULNERABLE.  I had to put myself out there in a clear way of asking for support.  I had to open up to the possibility that I may be rejected and that some people would not be willing to be there for me.  I remember having a conversation with a friend where I told her that I needed her to be there for me and she reflected back to me that over the 15 years of our friend ship she had tried repeatedly to be there for me but I continually said I was fine and was not transparent with my needs, which left her no room to show up for me in the way I desperately wanted her to be there.  Again this was a way that I was not clear in order to perpetuate my story.  So, years later, here I am, being vulnerable and open in my life and receiving help and support when I am willing to reach out and ask for it.  Is it that simple?  Yes it is that simple!  Even though the healing process can be painful,  I am more of a complete human being now than I have ever been.

It is our light that we put in shadow, it is our life force and our humanity that suffers.  Through reclaiming all the pieces that we have denied they no longer seep out in destructive ways blocking us from the life that we have dreamed of living.  This is my work.  I am so grateful to have the ability to work with amazing people in order to help them reclaim their pieces so they can live more fully.  My business motto is “FIND INSPIRATION AND FULFILLMENT IN YOUR LIFE THROUGH: LOVING DEEPER, SHINING BRIGHTER AND CONNECTING MORE FULLY!” This is what happens when you reclaim all of your pieces even the pieces that you never knew were missing.

I invite you to fulfill your dreams, look in the bag, get out of the box, create the life you were born to have.  You are worth it and the world needs your light.  SHINE THROUGH YOUR SHADOWS!