The second part of the definition of compassion states that it is sympathy or sorrow shown toward another or others. I propose that this definition be expanded to include ourselves.
Our first thought may be, “this is selfish.” But if you think about it, why shouldn’t we each have access to the same sorrow and sympathy to which others have access, when it comes to our realizations about our downfalls and the wounds behind them?
By showing ourselves compassion in this case, we allow the grieving process to begin. If we grieve about our downfalls and the wound(s) associated with it, if there is a wound, we avoid going into self-pity. Thus, we keep ourselves from playing small.
Instead, we can step into being with our humanness. In other words, we see our flaws, our errors, and we take action to correct them, to improve the traits that need improvement.
When we’re in self-pity, we cannot take action. We become paralyzed because all of our energy is going into ourselves. This is when selfishness applies. Having spent most of my life in self-pity, I can now see that it was very selfish of me and it definitely kept me playing small.
The issue of playing small is one which I just learned about in a two-day intensive workshop called Double Your Practice in 90 Days, conducted by Jesse Koren and Sharla Jacobs. This seminar is part of a series referred to as Rejuvenate Training. I had the revelation that, in regard to my efforts in marketing myself as a speaker and a coach, I am playing small, rather than standing tall in the gifts that God has given me.
One such gift is the ability to see the details within the whole picture. It is that gift which allows me to see these details about how compassion aids the journey to sobriety and peace, while holding a space for the overall desire for sobriety and peace. And I have also been given the gift of being able to articulate my thoughts in writing, and then, in speech. So, coming from the space of wanting to be useful to others, I write and I will speak.
It has been fear that has kept me from doing more than the planning stage of my new endeavors to be a speaker and a coach, kept me from making calls to schedule talks, for example. I am afraid of the attention I may get, afraid of rejection, afraid I don’t know what I’m talking about. These are the fears which hold me back.
What can I do about it? I can apply compassion for that hurt child whose history includes the experiences which resulted in these feelings. I can experience the sorrow and grief I feel over the loss of a happy childhood. I can get angry over the rejection, the false statements.
In the end, when I’ve gone through the grieving process, I can get to a place of peace about it, a place of acceptance. And this allows me to heal, so that I can show up for myself in the world. When I can show up for myself, then I can show up for you, and I am able to become of service to you. It becomes a continual dance between showing up for each other and ourselves that is beautiful and evokes peace. So, tell me, why would showing yourself compassion be selfish?
Today, look at the list you created yesterday. Look at each way in which you feel sorry for yourself and figure out why doing that makes you small. Then trace that wound that leads you to be small, back to its origin. When you discover what that is, determine what feelings you are experiencing because of it. Apply compassion. Let yourself feel sympathy and sorrow for yourself and the person who endured the wound(s), and who experiences those feelings.
This seems like a lengthy process. At first it may feel awkward and clumsy, and it may take time to do. With practice, it becomes easier and less time-consuming. I invite you to try it. It will further your sobriety and will contribute to your peace.