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Compassion : embracing humanity

October 12, 2017

" If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion"-

Dalai Lama

 

Compassion can conquer almost anything.

 

Compassion is the deep affection that we feel for everything because we are all in it together (Jim Palmer)

 

But why then do we all find it so hard?

 

When we fail, we self-flagellate and criticise and are our own worst enemies as if "perfection" is the only way.

When friends fail, we try and help pick up the pieces and show them the light. But, when we see another human truly suffering, it is so hard to know what to say and know what to do...

 

I oftentimes think we are scared that bad luck, grief, pain, hurt, suffering might be catching. My grandad used to say "smile and the world smiles with you, cry and you cry alone" and I have found that to be very true. In times of greatest pain, I find I am not compassionate with myself and in turn even the most well-meaning people shirk away from you- hoping their inaction and avoidance will make the uncomfortableness eventually go away. It doesn't. If you are the sufferer and the one being ignored, this inaction somehow amplifies the pain and makes you feel extremely alone and vulnerable.

 

 

Compassion comes from the Latin 'com' meaning with, and 'pati', which means to suffer. So the word compassion literally means to suffer with, to suffer alongside. It isn't meant to be easy or comfortable and I think that is worth reminding ourselves of. You need to stand with people in their darkness so it is not so lonely there. Yes, is is ok to laugh and smile. There is no right answer or words of wisdom, the most important thing is simply to be there and listen and not be frightenened by not being able to make things right.

 

Likewise self-compassionate people recognise that being imperfect, failing and experiencing difficulties in life is inevitable and are kind to themselves during the process. Instead of judging and criticising and striving to be perfect, treat yourself like a best friend and ask "how can I care and comfort myself in this hard moment?". Listen to yourself and give in to what you need.

 

This is the reality of the human condition shared by all of us: life is imperfect. We are imperfect. Be kind and forgive your failings and those of others, after all we are all just human.

 

 

 

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