While cleaning out a cabinet I found a forgotten folder, “Mom and Me Journal”. My daughter and I had made it many years ago when she was eight or nine. It was to sit in this location and we would secretly write each other. It was a way for each her to express her feelings without my immediate judgement–which isn’t always fair.
Compassion will cure more sins than condemnation. Henry Ward Beecher
We often take situations personally, distorting facts, perceiving pain and dealing pain back. Assumptions are born from fear; we imagine others thoughts and act on our own imaginings. As nurturers we must step back from our imaginings, our perceptions, assumptions and re-evaluate what actions are truly for the greatest good. When those we nurture engage in unhealthy behaviors, dealing out consequences from our personal perception of pain is unhealthy and unhelpful. Being merciful or compassionate appears unfair to others. Of course their perception of unfairness comes from taking someone else’s drama personally, they make the situation about them.
How do we discern truth? Your son argues with you. Your daughter uses the sarcastic tone. Your boss uses words that say failure. Your mother criticizes your cooking. Your spouse complains about your mother. Your dog pees on the floor. These actions are not about you even if directed at you. They are saying, “I feel bad and I want to have negative words between us so I don’t have to take responsibility for the way I feel.”
Miguel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements has been very helpful for me to recognize my lack of compassion. I’ve helped and served people everyday. My motives for helping others were frequently selfish–I wanted blessings, acknowledgement. In the movie Frozen, Queen Elsa must learn to control her powers. From her fear she is out of control and hurts those she loves. Her sister Anna’s act of love undoes the harm.
It’s hard to apply Christ-like unconditional love and see a person’s action separate from themselves, understand the action and thought processes behind it, and make a loving response. I pray for guidance everyday. Everyday I fall short. I don’t listen carefully, my fogged brain perceiving discord as personal pain. The service rendered last month or last year is in the past and doesn’t reflect on my present. My assumptions of others reactions influence my compassion. How do I not make assumptions?
1. Ask Questions
3. Forgive myself and others
How do I not take others reactions and perceptions personally especially when complaints, assaults, and distress is directed to me?
1. Deep breath
2. Step back from the situation
3. Remind myself that this is not about me (no matter how insistent the accuser is of my offenses).
4. Give a love sandwich. envision the other person and say in your mind or aloud, “I love you. Please forgive me. I forgive you. I’m sorry. Thank you. I love you.” (from Dr. Melvin Fish, The Power of Unconditional Love).
When we change our universe within, the outside experience eventually reflects what’s inside.
Fashion has many meanings including pattern, practice, custom, habit, and manner. We can fashion compassion in our daily lives.
1. Pattern: Imagine those you nurture happy and content.
2. Practice: Perform acts of kindness even when you don’t feel like it until you do feel like it.
3. Custom: When you have the pattern in your thoughts and you practice kindness, compassion becomes your nature.
4. Habit: A daily compassionate nature is easy and joyful.
5. Manner: You will experience compassion in return.
May you thrive in being present and develop a fashion for compassion.