Compassion - have you seen any lately? Have you felt any lately?
We hope so, we hope this is not another life human skill that we are losing the ability to utilise for our own and others wellbeing, because like any skill if we don’t practice, we can lose it.
Compassion is another core, almost imperceptible component at the heart of our humanism that has powerful impacts (both positive and challenging) on our wellbeing.
“Just because your pain is understandable, doesn’t mean your behaviour is acceptable”. Steve Maraboli
To be compassionate we need to come from a place of understanding – not to be confused with a place of excuse. We can be compassionate for ourselves and others and remain true to personal values that may conflict with behaviours or words.
All of this is great to know but signs of compassion (outward and inward) have been so few and far between that we have lost connection. In the past few years we have seen the distance between great compassion (think front line medical workers) and (minus) zero (think keyboard warriors) stretch beyond what many of us would have thought unimaginable.
So in this confusing space how do we reinvigorate this powerful tool to benefit my own and others wellbeing. As Danielle mentions in the podcast – most things, especially change, starts with us. In this case, when we learn to show/give/act compassionately towards ourselves this will (fingers crossed) “seep” out into the bigger world where we know how to reignite it in others as well.
The baseline of compassion according to psychologists is forgiveness. When we forgive ourselves, accept our flaws (perceived and real), and show ourselves kindness, we practice self-compassion. As with all things worthwhile it is a lot easier to say than do.
…compassion is a practice of goodwill, not good feelings… With self-compassion we mindfully accept that the moment is painful, and embrace ourselves with kindness and care in response, remembering that imperfection is part of the shared human experience. (Neff, 2019)
Thankfully with the right techniques, we can learn to (re)create habits which stick, and after all this is just a habit ☺.
Here are some of our tips…
Treat yourself as you would a friend
Become more self-aware - less judgement more acceptance
(Re)gain perspective - take a big picture view
Acceptance - ideals, thoughts and differences
Ask yourself or others kindly “um…what do you need”?
In moments of need, put both hands on your heart – just for a breath or two
Feed your mind, body and soul - you know the drill – sleep, nutrients and activity
Practice mindfulness, meditation and gratitude
Have a caring approach to all things – self, people, animals and plants
Choose which waves to surf - create, respect and protect your boundaries
Volunteer – help, give
My personal favourite – allow space and grace to breathe, to recover and take stock.
What do you currently use and what would you like to add?
My beautiful Mum one of the most kind and generous souls yet frequently used the phrase “you silly old bat, you’re useless” to describe herself. If you called her on it, she would say she was only joking – funny that yet each one of her Grandchildren reflect on her as “being mean to herself”, and this makes them sad.
Personally, I think the truth as always lies somewhere in between. It is a great example of how our self-talk can (and usually is) be less than compassionate towards ourselves.
So, when you start your journey to compassion, my suggestion is always start with your self-talk..
“be careful what you say…you’re listening, be kind”.
I mentioned this story in the podcast…
“Years ago, anthropologist Margaret Mead was asked by a student what she considered to be the first sign of civilization in a culture. The student expected Mead to talk about fishhooks or clay pots or grinding stones.
But no. Mead said that the first sign of civilization in an ancient culture was a femur (thighbone) that had been broken and then healed. Mead explained that in the animal kingdom, if you break your leg, you die. You cannot run from danger, get to the river for a drink or hunt for food. You are meat for prowling beasts. No animal survives a broken leg long enough for the bone to heal.
A broken femur that has healed is evidence that someone has taken time to stay with the one who fell, has bound up the wound, has carried the person to safety and has tended the person through recovery. Helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts, Mead said.
We are at our best when we serve others.”
Credit: Ira Byoc