How to Show Compassion

Good morning, everyone! May this day bring you peace. May it also bring you the gift of showing compassion to those in your life. The search term I have chosen today is “how to show compassion (to your husband).” I have dropped off the “to your husband,” in the hopes that we can learn how to show compassion to anyone.

Fields of Compassion

Compassion is defined as the ability to show sympathy for another’s plight, to have empathy, coupled with a strong desire to help. In the process of getting to compassion, we will end up clearing out our anger, our resentment, toward the other person. That means we need to look at our anger.

To do that, first look at what is behind your anger. Usually, it is hurt, betrayal. Allow yourself to acknowledge and feel those feelings. Remember, what we resist, persists, so we want to shine light on our anger, our resentment. Next, we always want to so a self-appraisal to see if we did anything to start the dispute, the situation about which we are angry.

If we find we did do or say something to which the other person is reacting like any normal person would, then we need to take responsibility for that and apologize, at the same time letting go of the anger. We need to own our behavior, honestly and completely.

If we didn’t do something to provoke the other person, then we need to look with the eyes of compassion. So, how do we do that? We acknowledge the difficulty the other person is experiencing, or has experienced in their life that leads them to behave as they do, and we have sympathy, empathy, for them. To do this, we think of what we would feel like if we had experienced what the other did or does experience.

Once we have compassion for another, we can move toward forgiveness. As we forgive, it is easier and easier to expand our compassion toward them, and we are able to forgive more and more completely. The depth of the hurt will dictate the length of time this process takes, with more hurt leading to more time needing to forgive.

This is all a process and we would do well to have compassion for ourselves as we move through it all.

In what way do you try to show your compassion toward another or yourself? Leave a comment and let us know.

I’d like to let you know that, if you like what I blog about, then you may be interested in a support group I am starting. If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area and want to find peace-of-mind, want to find a way through any emotional turmoil, then I invite you to join me. There are two groups. One meets every 2nd and 4th Monday from 10 am to 11 am in San Rafael, in Marin. The second group meets every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 1:30 to 2: 30 pm, also in SanRafael. Both groups will run for three months.

We will cover how to identify the gates of your heart, learn the keys to unlock these gates, and understand how to push the gates open. In month one, we will deal with how to do a self-appraisal. Month two will be spent on getting through grief, and month three will deal with forgiveness so we can find peace.

If you are interested, call me to get more information or to register. The groups will start in February, 2013. Space is limited to twelve people per group. 415-883-8325. 

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The Benefits of Compassion

Good morning to you all! It is the wee hours of the morning and I just popped awake, so I got up. I’m armed with a cup of coffee in me, and am ready to write. : ) This morning’s search term I chose is compassion. Let’s see where that takes us.

Webster defines compassion as sorrow for the troubles of another coupled with the desire to help. It also defines it as having pity, and here I disagree. Pity is also defined as sorrow for another’s misfortunes, and goes on to say it implies a slight contempt because the object is regarded as weak or ignorant. I don’t think people want pity, especially because it implies ignorance or weakness, yet I believe compassion is desired by others when they are suffering.

It is possible to feel compassion for someone who is ill or experiencing difficult times. For example, I am currently care-taking a woman who is unable to be independent in her life, and I show her compassion. I think, “What if this were me? How would I like to be treated?” So I show her a mixture of kindness, gentleness, and patience – all components of compassion.

The benefit is a feeling that I have done something good for another, and that feels satisfying emotionally. It feeds my spirit, my soul. The benefit to the other person is that they feel nurtured, cared for and about.

Perhaps the biggest benefit of compassion is that it leads to forgiveness – of others and of ourselves. Let me explain how I discovered this. I spent 38 years angry and bitter about my up-bringing and the damage it did to my psyche. Then, through the process of my recovery in sobriety, I was lookinig at the relationship I had with my parents at the time, and I began to think about what they had endured in their lives.

What I realized is that they were abused themselves in harmful ways, and they were just repeating that behavior with me. When seen in this light, I began to feel sorrow for their troubles, their experiences, knowing how difficult the after-effects of abuse are. And they never learned to examine the feelings associated with their misfortunes. I began to feel compassion for them.

I re-visited that space of compassion many times, as I thought about the effect their up-bringing had on mine, and I found my anger and bitterness melting slowly away. Eventually, I realized I was feeling forgiveness for their behavior, knowing they knew no other way. That did not condone their actions and behaviors, of course, but forgiveness does not mean you condone anything that happened, it just means you pardon it.

In a similar fashion, we can feel compassion for ourselves over our difficulties, our misfortunes, and even our bad behavior. After-all, we knew no better or we would have done differently at that time. We were most likely wounded people ourselves. Instead of feeling pity or remorse, however, we can allow ourselves to feel compassion for our ignorance, our woundedness that led us to poor behavior.

We can feel compassion for the damaged person that we perhaps became through our experiences in life. Yet, that is not grounds for excuses over our behavior or actions. We feel compassion for ourselves, learn the lesson, and move forward in our life, resolving to not repeat what led us to compassion in the first place.

So, there you have what I believe to be the benefits of compassion, with forgiveness of others and ourselves high on the list. In what way do you show compassion to others, to yourself? Leave a comment and let us know.

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Finding Compassion in Sobriety and Sobriety in Compassion

Very interesting the search terms that were used yesterday to find my site. Two of ten known ones were about how to show compassion and six of the ten were about sobriety. I was planning on continuing today with compassion, so that’s why it’s interesting what showed up in the results.

Over half counted were interested in sobriety, so I will include sobriety in my discussion… I am always happy to talk about sobriety because it is such an awesome addition to the journey.

Compassion is another one of the actions you can take that will help to push open the gates of your heart. That compassion, once you learn how to do it, is needed for both others and yourself. It’s a double -laned highway on the way to forgiveness. Through forgiveness, you will find peace. I am jumping ahead. Let me refocus…

As you develop new ways to be in the world for others and yourself, consider adding compassion to the tools you use to promote peace within. I found I had no clue what compassion was nor how to show it until I was a few years into sobriety.  At some point, I began to notice the wonderful feeling of goodwill I had toward others, where my heart went out to them in a truly genuine way.

Without sobriety, I was too into myself… my fears, my ego, myself. I was too busy feeling sorry for myself to be much concerned with what was going on with you. I am talking about concern that was more than superficial. I am talking about concern that makes me want to hear more of your plight, in an effort to determine how I can be of service to you.

This same concern for others that I show has to be shown to myself, also, in order for me to stay sober and to find more peace in my life. The same is true for you. You have to start learning to show yourself compassion in situations, for example, where you behaved badly because of some wound that was touched, some chord that was struck.

In that situation, if you can recognize that you were a wounded person in the moment you erred, needing some love and understanding, triggered to return to an original wound, then you can offer yourself compassion. Even, especially, offer yourself compassion for the ways in which you err against yourself with your negative self-talk, the criticisms, and beating-yourself-up.

This is virtually impossible to do if you are drinking and drugging, which is why sobriety becomes so important. You see, once you realize you have a wound that needs to be healed, the pain from that wound is exposed to the light and the pain may be intense. You want to deaden that pain, and perhaps use substances to do so.

But deadening the pain only prolongs the process you need to go through to heal and get to the other side of your angst. I experienced many times, again and again, that by exposing my pain and being willing to look at it, and to feel it, that it dissipated, resolved. I’m not saying the pain wasn’t excruciating at times, because it was and I wanted desperately to drink or dull the pain in some way or another.

Yet, my sobriety was my number one concern and I did not want to go back to the horror of my last several months of drinking. I did a LOT of journalling, brisk walking, and attending meetings of my support group. I did that for the first year and a half of sobriety. It helped. I also had a CD of soothing music, classical banjo and guitar, and I played it non-stop in the evening and night to soothe me.

I was showing myself compassion at the time, but didn’t know it as such.

You, too, can begin to become aware of how to treat yourself and your wounds, with great compassion. It will add to your sobriety, and your sobriety will add to your ability to show compassion to yourself. It feels really good. I invite you to try it for yourself.

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