I found myself having little compassion for women who complained about what their husbands weren’t doing right in their marriages, or who hated their careers but wouldn’t do a thing to change them. It would grate on my nerves when I’d be having lunch with a friend and she would be drawn into a downward spiral of negativity and couldn’t stop talking about everything that was wrong with her life. Until I discovered that I was that woman.
What we don’t like about other people is generally a reflection of what we don’t like about ourselves.
It’s easier to have compassion for everyone when we learn that they are mirroring for us our own pain points and struggles. It’s important to identify what specific behaviors or character traits are those that really “get under our skin” so that we can face them head on.
For example, when I gave consideration to why I didn’t care to listen to people complain about their careers if they weren’t planning to make changes, I realized that it wasn’t their indecisiveness and lack of motivation that bothered me, it was mine.
Once I faced the reality that I was really more frustrated with myself, it made it so much easier to listen to another person’s similar situation with more compassion.
What would happen if we kept this in mind regularly? Would that lazy guy at work really irritate us to no end? Or would we recognize that there are areas in our own lives where we feel like we’re slacking? Would that absentee father really disgust us? Or would we be reminded that we aren’t spending as much time with our own kids as we’d like to?
Let’s make this concept a little bigger…
Are there countries, political parties, religions or ethnicity’s whom you have chosen to dislike or even hate? (I say chosen because you could decide to let go of that burden right now…).
Do you hate that politician because he’s a power-hungry, unfaithful, scumbag? Maybe so. But if you dug deep, would you find that you’re stepping on other people at work to climb the corporate ladder, and you struggle with the thoughts you’re having about a woman who is not your wife?
Do you hate the 1% because they’re greedy, heartless, selfish jerks who care for no one but themselves and keep getting richer while everyone else suffers? Or, do you have dreams that have gone largely unfulfilled because you’re not sure what steps to take? Do you wish for better things for yourself and your family, but don’t know how to make that happen, so it’s easier to blame someone else?
I suspect that you think your emotions are because of an extreme difference in moral or ethical principles. That may be true to some extent, but within your hatred you will find no compassion, and with no compassion, there will be no change.
I’d urge you to gently examine the “why” behind those areas where you lack compassion.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
– Dalai Lama
I’m excited to be a part of the #1000speak movement. Please check out some of the other posts from other bloggers, writers, vloggers and artists about compassion, using the twitter hashtag #1000speak.