What is it? Who has it? How do you practice it?
To be honest, I wasn’t sure. Everyone talks about compassion, and more importantly self-compassion, but what does that mean? How do you explain it? How do you make it tangible?
I reflected on it for a while, and here are the two components of compassion that I believe are the most important. Everything else is just fluff. Its extra, but here are the basics.
So what is compassion comprised of?
A deep understanding and knowing that no one is perfect. We’re not perfect, and neither is anyone else. So what does that mean? It means, we’re going to make mistakes. It means, when we do, we don’t beat ourselves up.
Yes, we still hold ourselves accountable. If we’ve hurt someone, we make apologize and make amends. If it’s something that’s important to us – and they usually are because we don’t beat ourselves up over things that don’t matter to us – we make a commitment to do better next time. Not to get it right or perfect, just to do better. Progress over perfection.
Think about how you would talk to a child who made a mistake. I doubt you would talk to them in the same manner you talk to yourself. In fact, most of the time, we wouldn’t dare talk to another human being the way we talk to ourselves. Which brings me to number two.
When we do stumble or fail, we don’t use it as an opportunity to build a case against ourselves. When we get it wrong, our ego will chime in, it always does. You know it’s tune. It’s the “I told you so, see you’re not good enough; smart enough, talented enough, disciplined enough, pretty enough…”
Now the ego isn’t all bad, and we talked about that in a previous video (which you can watch by clicking the link). The ego is our bodies built in risk aversion default. It’s aim, to keep us safe and comfortable. Notice I said safe and comfortable. A safe and comfortable life isn’t the same as a fulfilling or joy filled life.
So when we fail, our ego uses that as an opportunity to reinforce it’s message that we aren’t enough and shouldn’t take risks or put ourselves out there. That’s when we need to change the track, or at least turn the volume down.
That’s it. Pretty simple, right?Compassion is being kind, it's showing sympathy. Click To Tweet
And here’s the fun part, this applies in both self-compassion and compassion toward others. If someone else fails or gets it wrong. Acknowledge that they’re human, and no one is perfect. Second, don’t build a case against them, certainly not based on a single incident. If they forgot to call you and wish you a happy birthday or they had to cancel your lunch date because something else came up, they’re not a bad person. They’re just human. Show a little love instead.
I love this quote from Pema Chödrön:
Compassion is knowing your own darkness well enough that you can sit with others in theirs.
Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.
Same goes when talking to yourself. Sigh, yes I know, that part is harder. So if you’re struggling with self-compassion and getting out of the ego trap, call a spiritual running buddy. Use them as a sounding board. We should all have a couple of people on our speed dial that we can call when we’re in a funk and having trouble getting out of our own heads. To be clear this is someone close to you, who knows you pretty intimately, you’re not calling up your dentist because you got sucked into going to your sister-in-law’s birthday. You know the one you haven’t spoken to in three years…Compassion is knowing your own darkness well enough that you can sit with others in theirs. (Pema Chödrön) Click To Tweet
Don’t have a spiritual running buddy? Post in the comments below, or engage with us on social media (Instagram and Facebook) and let this beautiful community of light warriors support you and show you some love.
Need a little more, try some meditations from my meditation album. Add them to your tool belt and use them when you’re struggling with compassion.
Let me know in the comments below if you’ve enjoyed this video. If you feel it could positively impact someone else, I’d be extremely grateful if you shared it.
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Sending you all love,