May blessings of compassion be bestowed upon us.
May I embrace the strength and fragility of myself and others.
May I honor the wisdom within and the ability of others to teach me.
May I choose peace, love, and joy in interacting with those I meet today.
May we move closer to realizing our divinity.
With honor for who’ve been, who we are, and who we may become,
may we further connect with our purpose today.
Releasing fear, choosing light, may we be one.
I had a fascinating dinner with a dear friend/ my personal trainer/ all around gorgeous spirit, Leese, last week. I was very grateful for the chance to share with her and to partake of her wisdom. One of the topics we touched on was compassion – What is it? How do we find it for ourselves? How do we cultivate it and feel it for others? I thought I’d share some of my thoughts.
I read something the other day on a site regarding self-compassion. It said “People are often very hard on themselves when they notice something they want to change because they think they can shame themselves into action – the self-flagellation approach.”
That really resonated with me. As I linger in the middle ground of having made strides toward health, but not yet fully achieving my goals I’ve found my self-compassion lacking. And frankly life is too precious to spend wasting the kind of time I’ve spent beating myself up. So…enter a renewed focus on compassion.
Self-compassion isn’t about being dishonest with yourself – e.g. ignoring your feelings; overlooking things that could be improved about yourself. We cannot make suffering go away by ignoring it. We can not alter something about ourselves without first acknowledging what needs to be changed.
The key is to be very mindful in these moments of our inner voice and our treatment of ourselves. It’s easy to fall into a pattern of judgment and self-criticism when we face personal failings. It’s easy to forget that we are only human, and that we can’t be “perfect” all of the time.
What if we took a different approach? What if we choose being kind to ourselves in these moments? We can honor and embrace our humanity in both its strength and weakness. We can change because we love ourselves and it will improve our life (such as increased health, inner peace, growth) – not out of self-judgment.
In my practices I’m finding how important it is to hold the vision of what we desire for our lives and to live and act as though those desires have manifested and are “real” now. For example, I want to live a life where I love my body. What would that life be like? I’d exercise; I’d eat well; I’d dress in a way that makes me feel cute; I’d be thankful for what my body is capable of. Well, heck! I can do all of those things now, right? I don’t have to beat myself up about those last pounds. I can love myself now and still be heading in the right direction.
We will all have moments of success and failure. We are here to evolve and therefore will occasionally have lessons to learn and the accompanying “growing pains.” Why not embrace the reality and treat ourselves with some compassion?
We can confuse liking ourselves with arrogance. I admit I struggle with that one. It feels like allowing myself to like myself would make me one of those self-important, selfish, arrogant people who will have to face a harsh lesson in humility. I don’t want to be that! But in truth, I couldn’t be that kind of person. It’s not in me to feel like “God’s Gift” to the rest of the world.
I am coming to realize that liking the person I am now, does not mean the person I was before was bad. I am trying to embrace the fact that even though there may be things I wish to change about myself that I am perfectly who I am supposed to be now. I can work towards growth without condemning myself. In other words, it’s okay to like me, be kind to me, and take care of me.
Compassion for Others
I don’t want to live judging others, finding fault in others, dismissing others. That’s a very unhappy path. That’s a very isolating, exclusive path. Still, finding compassion for others can be challenging. Those who need compassion the most often act in ways that don’t necessarily welcome warm, sympathetic feelings. They may be angry. They may be selfish. They may seem judgmental.
So to feel compassion we must first go beyond the behavior and realize its source. The person is suffering somehow. Something happened which has spun them out their natural state of harmony, peace, and love. We may or may not know the cause, but realizing there is suffering can allow us to have empathy.
We can relate to the pain based on our own experiences and challenges. It can remind us to be thankful that we are not enduring the same situation (or that we at least have better tools to handle the circumstances). We can go toward an attitude of gratitude and open-heartedness.
No one is perfect. No one immaculately handles every challenge or event in their lives. But everyone is worthy of compassion. I firmly believe that people are brought into our lives for a reason. They are teachers placed before us by Spirit. Often the most challenging people can bring us the greatest gifts. They teach us the importance of such things as boundaries, kindness, and selflessness. So ask yourself in these moments of frustration, “What can I take away from this experience? What is this person teaching me about how I want to live my life?”
Compassion isn’t about a quid-pro-quo. It isn’t about the other person earning it. We do it because it is the type of person we want to be and it is a chance to offer the kind of grace we hope to receive when we struggle.
Compassion is easier to find when we remember what we tend to judge most harshly are things we don’t like within ourselves or are afraid of in ourselves. Insecure people judge and condemn. It’s effortless. It can make you feel good when you are feeling a bit down on yourself. Compassion comes from a place of great power and love.
Strive to seek the good within yourself and others and have compassion for the less “positive” aspects. Share love and empathy as much as possible.
Forget perfection. Do what you can. Embrace who you and others are now with gratitude. You will find that you are more beautiful, wiser, and stronger than you knew.