A friend of mine recently lost her dad. Having experienced the loss of my own father several years ago, I could share my pain with her. And not just that I lost someone that I love, but the added phenomena of being an adult daughter, losing a father that although wasn’t perfect, loved me and continually provided for me. I could share with her the specifics of my story in dealing with the arrangements, the difficulty of seeing my dad lowered in the ground, and the assurance (according to mine and my friend’s beliefs) that my dad’s spirit is eternally alive. I also offered to be my friend’s emotional “punching bag” if she ever wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of dealing with family and just deal with her grief in a most raw fashion. This would include screaming, cursing, yelling, asking God why and being angry at God and everyone else.
This, my friends…is compassion.
Here is a weekend challenge for you:
Meditate, reflect, or think about some of the worst pain you have experienced, whether it be emotional, physical, social or spiritual. Think of someone in your life who is currently going through a similar experience. Have you lost a loved one, have you been bullied, abused, or treated unfairly? Or, were you the one who made the mistake and are now suffering the consequences of it? Have you lied, cheated, or stole and now you’re in the midst of making amends? Have you lost it all because of bad decisions?
Do you still remember the feelings you felt going through all of it?
For example, say you went through a divorce several years ago and you know someone is having challenges in their current relationship or marriage that could possibly go in that direction (this is only if you know, don’t snoop). Reach out to that person.
But try NOT to do it like this:
Hey friend, I know that your relationship is going down the drain, so I wanted to give you some advice because I know how it is.
Rather, say something like this:
Hey friend, it seems like you have been having some challenges lately. Wanna talk about it?
If yes, and they share their story, listen. Try to actively listen and note the points of connection. Then share your story. Don’t give advice, just share…just connect.
If no, just tell them,
Well if you ever need a compassionate and loving ear, I’m here for you. And I’m not just saying the words because they sound good, I am truly here for you if you need me.
Do you get my drift here? The purpose of this exercise is to activate your compassion gene.
Now be careful. There’s a thin line between activating your compassion gene and activating your sympathy gene or your caretaking/codependency gene, or even your judgmental gene.
You are not trying to pity the person, fix their problem, or show that you are better than them. You are trying to show them compassion.
Compassion in action!