Compassion is reaching out in love to someone, acknowledging their need, their pain and caring as if it were your own. We all have the ability to show compassion but we can choose not to for a multitude of reasons. When we lose compassion for others it means we have travelled down a path of selfishness and self seeking. Of course our first concern will be us, we are only human and our needs will always be a priority. However, if you only ever focus on yourself, your wants, your needs, your pain and struggles there is no room to accommodate others.
Compassion is coming alongside others and caring about the pain they are enduring. Whilst you may not have the ability to know exactly how a person feels you can try. I once read an article where a writer stated it is impossible to empathise if you yourself have not been through a similar situation as another. If one has lost a child they will have the ability to understand how another feels when they lose a child. The pain, the heartache, the loss, the anger and resentment. Do you believe this to be true?
Love allows us to care and to reach out. It pushes us to go the extra mile even when we are tired, hungry and irritated. Showing compassion will take something from us; our time, our listening ear, our money, our skills. Just being there for someone when they need you is enough. You may not know what to say or what to do but simply ‘showing up’ sends a message that you care.
The world we live in today can be lonely for some. People ask how you are but do they truly want to know or are they hoping you say you are fine so they can smile and move on swiftly? We must be sincere in our caring. If we ask how people are we must be prepared to actively listen to them when they respond and help in any way we can.
Often we allow our personal circumstances to consume us and we are blinded to what others are going through. We see them but not their pain, we hear them but do not quite capture what they are saying.
An old saying comes to mind:
“If not me then who?”
“If not you then who?”
How do you show compassion?
How has compassion been shown to you?
With our busy lifestyles, it is important now more than ever that we take time to rest. Flexible working means we have the opportunity to work from home. Owning laptops and iPads means we have the opportunity to work and take calls on our commute. Owning mobile phones means we are contactable for pretty much all of our waking hours.
Some have no problem with resting whenever they need to whilst others work themselves into the ground. The work will still be there in the morning yet there seems to be a compulsion to do it now just because you can.
Take doing the laundry, no matter how much you try, you just cannot keep that basket empty. I have resigned myself to the fact that I will have to do on average one load a day and if I fail to, I will have to do two loads the next day. There is no point in trying to race the laundry- it will beat me every time!
Housework is another ball game- it is tedious and repetitive but required for us to live in clean and orderly homes. There is always something else that could be done but there comes a point when you decide that today will be Netflix binge day/snooze day/reading the bible day/ – basically anything but doing work day.
The world will not collapse if you decide to relax for a day. When we first married I remember my husband would tell me to relax on a Friday evening whilst I darted around the house doing “this and that”. Looking back I cannot even tell you what I was busying myself with. We were childfree so no little people to clear up after. I am convinced it is a mindset – the inability to rest until you are satisfied everything is done. The question being “is work ever done?”
Even now I am more likely to rest when on a holiday or break as when I am home, my mind ponders on what I could/should be doing.
How much rest time do you have?
How flexible are you with this time?
Some have mastered the art of keeping their thoughts to themselves whilst others just cannot hold it in otherwise they will burst!
When I was around six or seven years old, I was out shopping with my mum and sister and a woman walked passed. I blurted out “Mum, that woman smells like fish”. Apparantely my sister and I proceeded to hold our noses. My mum said she wished the ground would open and swallow her up but admitted the woman did smell of fish. Whilst the woman probably felt embarrassed by our words, she would have been more likely to forgive two young children as oppose to an adult who should know better.
As adults we should aim to soften our words when speaking to others. Some conversations are awkward and bring discomfort but must take place whether for the benefit of the speaker or the recipient or to resolve a situation.
I tend to be a straight talker. Generally I do not say much but when addressing issues I keep to the point. There are times that straight talking is warranted and times where an element of softening is required.
Just before my husband and I married we visited his family member. A cousin of the family member (not related to my husband) also visited. We spent time talking about the forthcoming wedding and my husband began to explain in large depths that we could not extend an invitation to the family member’s cousin due to venue numbers etc. I think I piped in to round up the conversation and added that invitations had gone out and we have no more spaces. When we left to make our way home my husband mentioned I was a bit harsh. I asked why he felt the need to over explain to someone he had only met for the first time. Needless to say my husband was far more of a people’s person than I!
Thankfully since then I have learnt the art of humouring people. Believe me when I say I have to work at it because it does not come naturally. I find staying quiet is a good way of avoiding putting your foot in it. In my opinion, the more you speak, the more likely you are to say the wrong thing.
Do you operate with tact?
Have you always been this way inclined or do you have to work at it?
What was your last ‘I have just put my foot in it’ moment?
We should arrive at a point in our life when we are content with who we are today. We may not like everything about ourselves and could decide to take an action to change a particular aspect. However, we must like who we are and accept ourselves. Failing to do so will lead to self hate, insecurities, low self-esteem, self sabotage. All of which can leave long term scars and greatly affect the way in which we interact with others and view ourselves.
Though I know I am not perfect whether in my ways or my appearance, I am more content with who I am today. There is no such thing as a perfect person but an impressionable, misunderstood teenager would struggle to grasp this as I did. It has taken me an awfully long time to get here but I did. I recall allowing the words others spoke over me to penetrate into my mind and greatly affect the way I viewed myself. I believed I was not enough as I was and needed to be improved upon. I disliked that I was shy and avoided being in large groups. I was completely unaware of the term introvert and who I was as an individual.
In order to stay current we all improve on ourselves in one way or another. Whether by appearance, our skills and knowledge. We are all led to a certain extent by society’s standards; what we watch, what we wear, the music we listen to, the books we read. If we feel we are gaining too much weight we can cut back on food and up our exercise. If we want to improve on our IT skills we can sign up to an online course. There is nothing wrong in doing what others have done or are doing. What is wrong is when you lose yourself in this, when you lose who you are and try and model yourself on another person who I might like to add, is not perfect.
It is important to look at our motive for wanting to change. Is it to be accepted and approved by others or is it to be an improved version of ourselves?
Are you content with yourself?
Did this come easy or did you have to work hard at it?
If someone had asked me this question two decades ago, my answer would most certainly have been half empty. I was negative and saw the worst in everything. I had little expectation of myself and others. I ran with the idea that if one does not expect much, one can rarely be disappointed. I was almost fearful of being openly excited just in case my plans did not come to pass. I was of the opinion that others would laugh at my expense and I could not bear the disappointment.
Plans will work and plans will fail but expecting the worst helps no-one. We have nothing to lose by being hopeful and much to lose by having low expectations. The well known saying ‘you get what you expect’ rings true to me. It is almost impossible for you to receive more than you expect. Whilst lowering our standards may bring an element of comfort to our lives, it is unhealthy and self destructive. It is damaging choosing not to go for what you really want. We must be honest with ourselves about what we want. We must not feel embarrassed or ashamed if we do not yet have those things.
Our overall outlook on life affects our relationships, mental health and the way in which we deal with disappointment and challenges. I admit that I struggled greatly with handling disappointments and have come a long way through using various strategies that were appropriate for me. As individuals we are wired so differently and it is important we identify the areas in which we struggle, in order to deal with it. It is likely to be a long, painful process but far better to address these issues than to bury your head in the sand.
With the greatest intentions in the world, I accept people will disappoint as will I. This does not mean we should go searching for disappointment in the hope to becoming well acquainted with ‘it’.
Do you look for the best in people and situations or do you expect the worst?
How has this impacted on your life?