I’m part of a group of bloggers/writers that are participating in 1000 Voices for Compassion. This is a movement to flood the internet with all things positive and good, with everyone publishing on the same day — today.
It’s hard for me to think about compassion without immediately thinking about anger. I think most time people would call me a compassionate person in general, and I can say that about most people I know. But, that’s really just a general statement. When I think about the moments that compassion matters most, it’s when you are angry, because let’s face it — compassion can be hard.
Think about the people and moments that anger you the most, the ones that you have perceived have wronged you in some way, shape or form. Instead of being angry (which maybe the complete and utter appropriate response), try to come from a place of empathy and try to physically think about what they are feeling and how they are interpreting the situation. Anger is reactive, but compassion is pro-active, which, if practiced enough, can become your default reaction.
I think about years ago, in my childhood when I would be intolerable and I perceived unlovable, but that was a response to the abuse I was enduring. What I needed was someone to stop and ask me what was really wrong, because the truth was that I was angry.
I think about that when parenting two young children, and when they fight, to teach them to talk about how the other one feels, because compassionate starts in anger.
I think about the last time I was at the hospital snack shop, and the lady in front of me who chewed out the cashier. The cashier smiled and tried to brush off the mean words. She knew, she told me, that lady probably needed a hug and was visiting a sick family member and was angry that her loved one could not be made well.
So, in doing and observing in my very short life, I try to remember to be compassionate in moments of strife, anger and irritation. It can be difficult and some people are not willing to try to see your point of view. Be compassionate anyway. People will be mean, you will continue to get hurt, and your loved ones will be hurt. Be compassionate anyway. At their very core, people want to be heard, and they want to be seen. Acknowledge this, and you’ve taken your first step.