“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive.”~Dalai Lama
I don't know about you, but I feel that in the last several months I've seen too much traumatic news. We've seen several unforgettable tragic events due to the Corona Virus in the last few months. During extreme situations we naturally extend compassion to those in great need. However, compassion is always appreciated and needed, not just for national or international tragic situations, but even for those unexpected daily situations that pop up. This planet we live on is currently in crisis mode. Many people are hurting, grieving or angry. All of us can become compassionate. It is something we can learn how to nurture within ourselves first, in order to become more compassionate towards others. Having self-compassion helps us have compassion for others.
Self-Compassion requires us to consistently replenish our soul. Psychologist Kristin Neff was the first person to measure and operationally define the term “self-compassion.” She describes self-compassion as kindness toward the self, which entails being gentle, supportive, and understanding: “Rather than harshly judging oneself for personal shortcomings, the self is offered warmth and unconditional acceptance.” In other words, being kind to ourselves in good times and bad, in sickness and in health — and even when we make mistakes.
Compassion has many different dictionary descriptions. My favorite is from Wikipedia: Compassion motivates people to go out of their way to help the physical, spiritual, or emotional pains of another and themselves. As a Life Empowerment Coach, I find this description of compassion positive and empowering.
Recently, I've shared with my clients, that the meaning of compassion and how you share it with others can go beyond the general meaning. I know for me, compassion can include offering a tip such as in the form of knowledge or a resource/referral to someone in great need of information. It can also include extending a hand to someone I see struggling with something or having great difficulty (holding the door open for them). I have offered compassion to a friend or colleague by providing insight for a creative solution to a problem or concern they've shared. There are many ways to show compassion.
With patience and practice we can learn how to become more compassionate. Remember, it first starts within and giving compassion to yourself during good times and especially during challenging times. Below are some examples of times when I have had compassionate experiences.
It can help to mentally put yourself in that person's situation. One of the classic examples is, when another driver cuts you off. Of course, our first reaction is to take this very personally and think: "what a rude person this driver must be". We want to blare our horn and toss a few not-so-nice words in their direction. This has happened to me more times than I can remember! But when we take a moment to pause and consider those times in the past when we've unintentionally cut another driver off and why. We may have done this for various reasons. Perhaps our mind was elsewhere such as, if we just received an emergency call that our child was injured on the playground and has been taken to the ER. We were frantically trying to get there as soon as possible to comfort our child. We are often unaware of a person's pain, suffering or anxiety they are carrying inside. Next time someone sends out a strange vibe or rubs you the wrong way, pause and remind yourself that you do not know how their day started or what kind of circumstances are currently happening in their life.
Perhaps you've encountered a time at the coffee shop when the person inline next to you either forgot to bring their wallet or they didn't have enough money with them so you responded spontaneously by insisting this one is on you. And when they thanked you and asked how they ever may return the offer, you simply told them to not worry about it, to enjoy their coffee and have a fantastic day. I've seen this type of compassionate exchange happen very recently between two strangers and this act of kindness was felt by a few of us in line. My thoughts? This not only sets a good example of compassion, but can also set the tone for the remainder of the day for yourself and others. A positive ripple effect!
Each day, start to begin to practice self-compassion. Accept your shortcomings/weaknesses and imperfections. Do not be harsh and critical to yourself. Instead, tune into your needs first thing in the morning and throughout the day. Be kind to yourself. Allow this kindness to expand outward to others. Kindness is felt in the heart. When our intention for compassion is given from the heart, this connects us to others and we can feel oneness. We can all use more warmth, understanding, kindness and compassion. Starting today, and each morning, ask yourself: "what is it I can give today?" It can be simple, small acts. A smile, a compliment, words of wisdom or letting the other driver go in front of you.
Embrace & Share Compassion!
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