life, philosophy

Compassion

Compassion is the spiritual energy that dissolves the negative effects of judgment. ~ Daily Word

Recently I’ve been posting topics about feelings and emotions. I’ve shared my experiences with how emotions have affected my life and what I’ve learned from them. But, there is a lesson I left out.

Compassion.

Most people have experienced some sense of loss or hardship, and compassion for others is a lesson we learn from those hard times. We have a sense for what it feels like when others go through rough patches. We naturally feel for them, and if we can, we’ll help. We learn none of us are alone.

Some years ago, I read a lovely illustration about compassion. I don’t remember it exactly, so I paraphrase. A little girl was sitting on an old man’s lap who was weeping because he grieved his deceased wife. When the little girl’s mom caught her sitting on his lap she asked, “What are you doing there sitting on that man’s lap?” The little girl replied, “I’m helping him cry.”

For me, compassion means that I’m feeling the feelings of the other person right along with them. If they’re sad, I cry with them. If they’re happy, I laugh and elate with them. Even if they’re angry, I feel it with them, and then try to help them defuse it in a healthy manner.

On the other hand, some people avoid compassion, because feeling another’s pain is difficult.

Annika’s post last week reminded me of a wonderful quote that shows how compassion can grow, or not.

“It doesn’t interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life’s betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it, or fix it. I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own.” ~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

With how society is so torn apart these days, I’ve wondered if compassion is lost. So many appear to be only concerned with how they feel about a topic, an issue, an opinion.

Recently, a friend of mine has been going through something very difficult. She’s been posting updates on her blog with stories of human angels who have been coming to her aid. It gives me hope for our society.

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16 thoughts on “Compassion”

  1. I read your reply above and I have to agree that I also got very little compassion when I was struggling with infertility. Personally it hardened me a bit and distanced me from those people from whom I expected compassion but got judgement, or indifference. But it made me more compassionate towards people going through genuinely tough times. It made me more sensitive and tactful, anyway. Sidebar: I have a current theory that the daily grind dehumanises people and makes them less compassionate – commuting into an awful job every day, sitting at your desk 9-5, spending hours with frustrating co-workers, having hardly any leave, only able to partially decompress on the weekends, etc – I struggle with staying empathetic and compassionate all the time and I wish we lived differently and could catch our breath sometimes. Maybe it’s a stupid theory but I feel that when your life is more mindful and relaxed, you become kinder and more compassionate. Modern life is brutalising us, I think… Anyway, back to the previous topic: I find that those who’ve suffered infertility are some of the most compassionate people around!

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    1. Oh yes, I withdrew from family and friends when going through infertility. The lack of compassion seared my heart. I think what happens is that people who have kids either think we’re lucky because our lives are “easier” and they envy us. Or, they think there is an easy fix to infertility if we either “just relax” or we adopt. They became parents so easily, they just don’t understand that having the choice ripped away from you is a death in itself. As a result, it made me feel for people who are hurting for any reason. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel as misunderstood, isolated and alone as I did.

      As far as your theory, I understand what you mean. I felt much the way you described when I worked in an office. I needed to get out to save my sanity. I tried other career paths for a while that didn’t fit. Finally I decided to write, something I wanted since I was 9 years old. I think when people feel trapped, your theory could be correct, they lose their compassion to some extent. I kept searching until I figured out a way out of feeling trapped and to change my frame of mind.

      Since experiencing infertility, I find myself drawn to people hurting and wanting to say and do something to ease their pain.

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      1. Yes it still seems acceptable in society/the media/daily life at large to heap scorn and disdain on those struggling with infertility. Or at the least, to show a complete lack of empathy. I learnt to only talk about it with those who’d been through it (which is problematic as I never seem to meet anyone and I simultaneously feel guilty for not speaking out about it…). Aah yes I must make the leap and give up my office job – I think it’s great that you decided to write!

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        1. I did the same thing with only talking to others dealing with infertility. Don’t beat yourself up for any of your decisions you make regarding infertility, even if you’re only talking to those who are going through it. The only person who knows what to do for you is you. As far as taking the leap from your job, you’ll know when it’s right. Hang in there. ❤

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  2. It would appear that we could all practice a little more compassion these days — or better yet, any and every day. Thanks for your comments, Lori.

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    1. It seems there is a lack of compassion, until I hear a heartwarming story and have hope that not all is lost. I heard a couple of those good stories this week. I’m grateful for my compassionate blogger friends, like you, too. Thanks for stopping by, Andrea.

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  3. Lori, this is a beautiful, reflective post that I have read many times. I can’t help but be so touched with the story your paraphrase and the girl’s obvious reply that she is crying with him. I have met people and have friends who have great difficulty showing compassion and nearly reject compassion when shown any; this is so hard for me to understand – for me it’s natural to share joy, sorrow, hardship…to do everything practical possible but even more important to be present and be compassionate. Thank you so much for linking to my post and I’m happy the Oriah’s words are shared further.

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    1. Hi Annika. I got so little (none) compassion when I was struggling with infertility many years ago, and I swore I’d never do that to anyone else.

      Thank you for sharing your experience with compassion and for reminding me of Oriah’s words. I had read them many years ago (back when I was going through infertility) and it was heartwarming to read them again. Something about those words soothes me.

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  4. Compassionate people live happier lives. Years ago, someone tried to befriend me and I quickly discovered she didn’t have an ounce of compassion in her body. She sucked all of my energy and tried to make me as miserable as she was. I quickly cut ties with her.

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    1. I know that type of friend, Jill. I had a friend for about 15 years like what you speak of. I hadn’t found myself yet and didn’t see it in her. When I finally distanced myself from her, she got a hold of me one day and told me off. It was all about her once again. Thank you for sharing your experience.

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  5. Compassion is such an important emotion/character trait. People who can find no compassion for someone less fortunate than themselves, tend to have ugly personalities, at least in part … a great part. That’s been my observation anyway.

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