How to Show Compassion Without Hurting Yourself
Whatever you Fight, you Strengthen,
Whatever you Resist, Persists~Eckhart Tolle
Happy Sunday! What lessons have you learned this past week? Did you take away something or are you still trying to figure it out? My share this week is about having to sit still in Empathy and Compassion.
If you follow me (and I thank you if you do), you are aware of my disconnect with my family. You know how much I value the connections we make not so much the ones we are born into. Because of my experiences with toxic energy anytime I feel surrounded by such I tend to have a short fuse and want to run away in the opposite direction. But what do you do if that energy is coming from someone you love, respect and care for? Someone, you know is better than the experiences they are currently going through? Well, that is the place I currently find myself in.
I am not one to take friendships or any relationships I have lightly, period. My time and energy are very valuable to me and throughout the years I have learned to respect what the universe shows me. People are who they are until they choose to be someone else...Choices. Every second of our lives is filled with choices.
These past few weeks I have been dealing with a friend who is going through a tough time. Choices have to be made that aren't being addressed which then trickle into daily life and daily interactions. Conversations have been poor and unproductive because no one is being heard or perhaps even respected. My annoyance has spilled over on more than one occasion and not even my breathing or meditation practice has seemed to work. But this past Wednesday upon opening my emails as is my morning routine at the office I came across a sign, a sign that screamed at me you need to check yourself, cause you are wrong. The sign came in the form of a daily inspirational post.
I subscribe to several, Tiny Buddha is one. The post was long but I felt pushed to read through it and after I did I felt pushed to reach out to my friend and apologize for my actions. The post was the story of a woman who was dealing with loss and everyone kept telling her she would get through it but no one sat with her and said it was ok to be going through it.
It was at that moment that I realized I was lacking Compassion for my friend's current circumstances. I was empathetic but I wasn't Compassionate.
Empathy is being able to relate to what another person is going through, to share in that person's perspective but Compassion is taking it a step further by not only feeling but also having a willingness to want to help. I was lacking this emotion because it would mean having to feel things that brought on past negative memories of my own journey. The annoyance I was feeling was coming from being reluctant to visit past pain.
I kept hearing my friend and seeing my friends suffering but all I wanted to do was present the tools that could bring them to the other side, not accepting that to get to the other side you first must stop and take some hard looks. I remembered how painful that had been for me and the energy it required and didn't want to be in that space.
So...How can you show Compassion without Depleting your Own Resources?
- Well, the first step would be Awareness. Knowing how to show compassion, knowing that that is what's needed and figuring out how to show it next. For me, it took getting that email to know how poorly I was handling things.
- Apologize. Not every circumstance may require an I Am Sorry but most likely as was the case with myself you may have been short with that person and just added to their stress. So sincerely apologize simply for not knowing how to handle the situation and go from there.
- Communication. Open the lines of conversation. Not texting, no phone calls but an actual face to face. Allow your friend to share. listen and be open. Let them know it is ok to feel. Reassure them the feelings are valid. Offer a safe place to talk and perhaps even resolve just by you give of your time.
- Set boundaries. This is key! Know your limits. Be clear on how far you are willing to invest your time and energy. Helping others doesn't mean losing sight of yourself or even putting your own self-care and mental health at risk. Knowing how far you are willing to be there for someone saves you a lot of grief down the line.
- Acceptance. Understanding that everyone comes to their place of peace at their own time. That sometimes no matter how much support, empathy and yes Compassion you show that person may not be ready, willing or even able to see the light at the end of the tunnel. Know when you have done all you can and be ok with Letting Go of the outcome.
Again, choices. We all have them. Every day can become your new day to Create Your Best Life.
Be Gentle with Yourself
if you wish to be
Gentle with Others~Lama Yeshe
I am practicing this every day. I am in talks with my dear friend and I am showing Compassion to the best of my abilities. I am hopeful we can get to the other side together but I am also clear that I have to accept letting go.
Do you find yourself in a similar situation? Do you have someone in your life going through a tough time and you don't know how to help? Are you the one in need of Compassion? Share your journey here, let's have a chat.
Always stress-free xo,