"If your compassion does not include yourself, it is incomplete."
While reading spiritual books on compassion and "radical acceptance" (not meaning resignation; read more in Tara Brach`s book "Radical Acceptance: Embracing Your Life With the Heart of a Buddha"), I have been challenged in extending my compassion to those who have triggered or hurt me.
I did a lot of meditative and reflective exercises, but I would soon be in touch more with my hurt and resentments, rather than love and compassion. I wanted to make this shift so badly, being a dedicated spiritual student, until I realized that I may not be capable of this shift yet, without dismissing myself.
Yes, I can understand the other person`s motivations, personality and communication style - but it wasn`t as the spiritual books would often suggest, that my understanding would now shift my perception or even transform the relationship. I was still in my hurtful self and might have even got more resentful thinking "Ok, I understand their motives, but what about MINE?" Even being mindful of this, I now realized I was also additionally harsh with myself - I judged myself for not being able to reach true compassion for the other side, for not making this shift "humanity needed".
So let me share my 3 take-aways for approaching compassion - for oneself and others - along my current situation with a friend, who deeply hurt me and now wants to talk, but I currently retreat to protect myself from any further hurt from her:
1. It is ok if you cannot feel compassion for the other person yet
My coach helped me realize that I can give myself permission to be. To feel what I feel. To be in this unresolved, but protected situation. As I am protecting myself from any further (emotional) harm from my friend, I am currently not in touch with her knowing that she asked to talk. And it was so relieving to give myself permission to do this - esp. if we are women, we tend to comply and follow other`s expectations. But only you know your wellbeing best and are responsible for your wellbeing - so I knew, if I am exposed to her again, it is my "fault" if I am hurt again given past experiences repeatedly. Don`t add more pain to the current pain by judging yourself for not "being ready or capable enough" to forgive yet or act with more compassion. Don`t let yourself be pulled down by external expectations - only you know what is the right pace for you.
2. If you work on having compassion with yourself first, this skill will be trained for compassion with others
As we know, all starts with us. If we can`t love ourselves, then we can`t love others. If we have a dominant Inner Critic, we are likely also criticizing others (without knowing because the Critic`s voice is so common in our head). So if we can`t be compassionate with ourselves, it is also hard to be compassionate with others, without feeling like a dying altruistic martyr. So judging myself for my weak compassion for others who hurt me can only be detrimental, while I just could focus within. What is it that I need? How can I take care of myself? How can I be my own compassionate friend? What thoughts and perspectives are supporting my wellbeing? Focussing on myself gives me back my power to what I can control as focussing on something that is out of my control.
3. Be your own hero of your story
A colleague just recently told me that he lives and sees his life as being a hero of his own story. Even though he experienced challenges, whenever he looks in the mirror, he is proud of what he sees. His simple, but powerful perspective really resonated with me. It shows so many things, that
we can see the bigger scheme of things, which may help us detach a little more from day-to-day hick-ups and give us an empowering view on our challenges
we can be proud of us and our journey, esp. through our personal hardships
we are the creators of our lives - leaving home to unknown territory, fighting battles with dragons, and experiencing transformation, while maybe meeting the love of our life during our growth process
My hero is currently alone (not lonely) on her path, excited what it has already experienced and will experience. While my hero may not have the realization yet on how to tackle the challenge "compassion with people who have hurt us", I can see my hero is progressing and when the time will come, my hero will thrive, as she has always done.
Love, from me to you,
What does compassion mean to you? Let me know by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org – I very look forward to hearing from you! :) PS: Subscribe to my #mindfulmagic Newsletter to stay in touch for upcoming posts, free offers, and news :)
Reflection: How can I be more compassionate with myself?
Intention: I start with compassion for myself.
Viet Linh Le is a female visionary, qualified coach with corporate experience, and multi-cultural lover of life, with the mission to change our world by coaching the next-generation decision-makers. Find out more on www.vietlinhle.com