Do you feel compassion for yourself and others? Do you know how to be compassionate? To have compassion or be compassionate is to ‘suffer’ with others. It is not just empathy where we can understand the feelings of others. It is having empathy and acting upon it. It is helping others and we who are suffering.
Only the development of compassion and understanding for others can bring us the tranquility and happiness we all seek. — the Dalai Lama The key to compassion is to treat others the way they would like to be treated. So if they are in pain, be there for them how they would like to be treated. Be that someone who will listen without judgement or someone to be there to help do the hard things. We have heard the saying “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”. This is not how to be compassionate. This is putting our needs and wants onto another which is actually selfish. To listen and treat someone how they want to be treated is being truly compassionate and being there for that person. To suffer together and then help someone will help you grow as a person. It is a process but it is the path to self-actualisation. Having a fixed view of the world where you defend yourself constantly, blame others for what happens, put people down is not being a compassionate person on the path to self-actualisation. A fixed view is where you are stuck on train tracks, you have no control to what happens to you or where you go. To be accepting of the differences and views of others without judging is to be compassionate. It is seeing life and the world as a journey that ebbs and flows, that has mystery, that has abundance, is embracing of other people’s views, where we are uplifting people and we can see the possibilities, is living a compassionate life. Our lives are busy, we hear it all the time, I’m too busy, I don’t have time. We live our lives on a hamster wheel. What we long for though is connection with others, if we do not get this we can close up, put the shields up to stop us feeling lonely or hurt. When someone shows us compassion we open up like a flower, we shift that negative space we are in and feel the connection. When we are able to give the gift to others of having a space in our heart to be open to people’s views of the world we can truly listen and connect with someone. Being kind to others is how to show compassion, be there for someone, reach out to them, put yourself in their shoes, think about why they act as they do and be sensitive to their pain. Now this is not just for others, it is being kind and compassionate to ourselves. If you focus on kindness and compassion you will experience kindness and compassion. True compassion can be an energetic effort. It is not about being nice to others or yourself for a short period of time. It is being there helping yourself and others sincerely and genuinely from the heart. Purely non-judgmental listening is essential for compassion. How many times have you listened to someone just waiting to interject with your story? You are not truly listening and they feel that. Give a person your undivided attention and stop judgement and that person will open up to you and deepen your connection. Listen without the need to tell your story. Again, it also works for yourself, listen to you, what is coming up for you, do not judge yourself, stop beating yourself up with your inner talk, trust that you will know what to do. Understand what a person is going through, do not just listen literally to the words, attempt to comprehend what is underneath what they are saying. Often, we get angry and blame others when really, we are scared to try something or take responsibility for our actions. Our behaviour does not necessarily indicate what is really going on. Dig deeper without being intrusive. Be aware that a person’s actions do not define the person they are. There was a column in the Reader’s Digest that was about a father and his three children getting on a bus in London, the father was lost in his own thoughts and the children were being disruptive. Someone said to the father “you really need to parent your children better….” The father said he was sorry but that his wife, their mother, just died and they were returning from the funeral and they were a bit overwhelmed. Being compassionate is learning what is under a person’s actions. We never really know what is driving a person if we do not listen, ask great questions and help someone out of the hole they might be in. Be the friend or partner who shares compassion and love. Respect the people in your life, validate their experiences, keep their trust, be there for them at their worst, do it without judgement or criticism. Allow your significant people to be comfortable to open up to you without retribution. Let them share with you their shame, their fears, their successes, their vulnerabilities. Openly express your gratitude for this person for being in your life. Do not use weapons such as defensiveness or hiding. Be genuine in your pleasure at their success; be genuinely sad and disappointed for that person at their heartbreak. By becoming conscious of our own awareness, we can deliberately nurture compassion. When we do this, we open ourselves up to learn to compassionately think, feel and behave. Then we can act to relieve our suffering.