Posted on November 1st, 2009
“It is lack of love for ourselves that inhibits our compassion toward others. If we make friends with ourselves, then there is no obstacle to opening our hearts and minds to others.” Author unknown
When our heart is full of love and acceptance, we are compassionate towards others. We know that just like us, everyone has the same basic needs for safety, a sense of belonging and appreciation. We also know that everyone has experienced some form of pain and suffering in their life - some more than others. We rise above judgment or pity to a place where our heart meets our soul and we see the hurt in others as well as their wholeness and we trust in their ability to heal.
When we drop below compassion we can get caught in a painful form of sympathy where we feel sorry for another as though they don’t have the knowledge or resources to help themselves. We may take on their pain and problems in an attempt to rescue them. This can be invalidating, as all humans have the ability to find solutions and access healing, particularly during the most challenging times when the logical mind lets go in despair and allows the higher self and its wisdom to take over.
When we tire of trying to save the world, we may swing over to the opposite of pity which is apathy or condemnation. Finding others’ pain too much to bear we shut down and suddenly don’t care. Or we find reasons to judge others as wrong and deserving of their suffering. This perspective only hardens our heart and creates a barrier between us and the rest of the world.
Touching into empathy - that place of felt understanding, where we can relate to another’s plight or at least imagine it, elevates us up to a place of compassion. We don’t take on the other’s emotions or problems, but we remember a time when we experienced something similar, or we can imagine what it would be like to be in their situation even if we don’t know all the circumstances.
Bringing this state of compassion to others supports us to bring it to ourselves; to be kinder, gentler and more loving and accepting of our own foibles; to forgive ourselves for past mistakes; to trust in our inner wisdom to find solutions.
Insights into Being Compassionate
♦ With what people and situations are you able to be in a state of compassion - to care about a loved one’s difficulty without dropping into pity, accept another’s moodiness without taking it personally, understand a challenging world event without judging it? Reflect on the people and situations where you find it easy to be compassionate.
♦ Where is it difficult for you to be in a state of compassion? Where do you lose yourself in worry or pity? Where do you shut down into a place of uncaring or condemnation?
♦ What helps you to be more compassionate? What gets in the way and triggers pity or judgment? What do you need to let go of and what do you need to embrace in order to have more compassion?
Inspiration into Developing Compassion
♦ When you find yourself moving into a pity form of sympathy - worrying about someone or feeling compelled to jump in a rescue - shift your perspective by seeing the whole of them. See their strengths, past accomplishments, and their inner spiritual being that has higher wisdom. Acknowledge their pain while envisioning their ability to heal at the same time.
♦ The next time you catch yourself about to judge another’s behavior as wrong, bad or rude, stop for a moment and ponder the possibility that perhaps this person is having a bad day, is in some sort of emotional, mental or physical pain, or was conditioned in their childhood to behave in dysfunctional ways and hasn’t yet accessed the tools to heal and find more appropriate ways to behave.
♦ If you have a habit of feeling sorry for others or doing the opposite, avoiding and judging them, try this visual energy exercise for transcending dichotomies. Close your eyes and see the two polarities in front of you - imagine sympathy/pity as a symbol on one side and on the other side imagine a symbol for uncaring/judging. Notice the energy and tone of each side of this dichotomy. Notice which one you relate to the most. Then raise these two symbols up higher, gradually bringing them closer to each other until they meet and overlap each other and then transform into a symbol that represents empathy and compassion. Notice the energy and tone of this state. Set the intention to match this vibration by letting it flow throughout your whole body.
To receive a complimentary energy audio session on compassion, click: Experience Compassion.