"Only in the presence of compassion will people allow themselves to see the truth". -A. Hameed Ali
Image: Nicoletta Ceccoli
Back from a beautiful first series of workshops by Brenda Davies.
I feel inclined to write something short on compassion. Thank you Brenda for showing us what compassion is and that compassion is a necessary stepping stone for healing.
What is compassion?
Compassion is different from empathy in the sense that empathy is the ability to understand, recognize and feel the emotional state of another or oneself. It has a lot to do with our mirror neurons. While compassion adds the desire to alleviate or reduce the suffering of another, to take action towards the reduction of that pain.
Its’ origins comes from the Latin, meaning co-suffering. To me that can only be completely integrated if we are willing to understand the other completely. It also comes downs to the willingness to look at the other with a different perspective. A perspective that whatever the other does, the person does this with a positive intentions for himself or herself. Instead of assuming that the reason someone has done something that hurts you is because they are selfish or unconsiderate, we replace this with the perspective that this persons behaviour serves a purpose for him or herself.
The positive intention behind 'aggressive' behaviour, for example, is often 'protection'.
The positive intention or purpose behind 'fear' is usually 'safety'. The positive purpose behind anger can be to 'maintain boundaries'. 'Hatred' may have the positive purpose of 'motivating' a person to take action. The positive intentions behind something like 'resistance to change' could encompass a range of issues; including the desire to acknowledge, honour or respect the past; the need to protect oneself by staying with the familiar, and the attempt to hold onto the positive things one has had in the past, and so on.
To be able to have compassion you first have to be compassionate with yourself. It is only then that you can have compassion for others. Perhaps most importantly, having compassion for yourself means that you honour and accept your humanness. Life will not always go the way you want it to go. You will encounter frustrations, losses will occur, you will make mistakes, bump up against your limitations, fall short of your ideals. This is the human condition, a reality shared by all of us. The more you open your heart to this reality instead of constantly fighting against it, the more you will be able to feel compassion for yourself and all your fellow humans in the experience of life. The more you accept this the more you are able to see opportunities to grow and to become the best version of ourselves and all experiences will become fertile ingredients that can help us to bloom.
Third Culture Coach
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