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Archive for the ‘Compassion’ Category

I wrote a blog a while ago that got a lot of amazing responses.  Ones that opened up new learning for me too.  The blog was about whether we can or should have compassion for ‘bad’ people.

Today’s blog isn’t far off that, but instead focuses more on how we can have compassion for the people in our life whom we care about and who are doing really well.

Why? Because I hear people talking about it.  I should say trying NOT to talk about it.  They don’t want to admit the feelings they are having around someone else’s success.  We all know this feeling…jealously.

Even when we really truly are happy for the other person those jealous feelings can creep in to our minds can’t they?  I mean, often we look and think about ‘why them and not me?’.

Yuck.  What a crappy feeling for us to deal with.  Still, as I have said before – all feelings have value and should be acknowledged as valid.  Squashing them down only gives them time to grow and no one wants that right?

So how can compassion help us with that? I know most of us think of compassion as pity but in fact it is so much more than that.  It’s love.  Pure and simple.  Love, love love!

You see, wanting what someone else has is fine.  We all do this.  That’s not what jealousy is.  Jealousy is when we start to have feelings of resentment build up towards the other person and our own situation.  Resentment means we are taking someone else’s happiness or success as a personal affront.  When we start to take it personally we are really directing our negative energy inward and creating resentment.be-kind-for-everyone-you-meet-is-fighting-a-hard-battle

Resentment is a powerful and negative energy.  It thrives on that inner dialogue of ‘I’m not good enough’.

Compassion can help this because it takes the personal issues out and brings love into the situation.

Compassion is inherently filled with love and one of the most powerful forces on earth. (Tweet this!)

At its simplest I suppose you can use compassion to remind yourself that even though we see this person getting what we might want, their life has its problems too.  Don’t kid yourself, I imagine there are people who look at your life and feel the same way.  But let’s face it – no one has it perfect right?  We all have our struggles and when we keep that in mind we have an easier time feeling joy for others rather than envy or worse, jealously and resentment.

The other thing that is seldom talked about is showing some compassion for ourselves.  We, as a society, are so freaking hard on ourselves and it leads to so many mental and physical health issues along with playing a really small game in life.

37028_524675977570289_207316815_nA really great way to start dealing with your jealousy and resentment is to show that love to yourself by looking at all the blessings and accomplishments you already have.

Everyone is on a different path with new things to learn.

Comparing your story to someone else’s is like comparing apples to Volkswagens.  Not even in the same parking lot. (Tweet This)

So, yeah! Compassion trumps jealously!

Now it’s YOUR turn! In the comments below tell me of a time that you overcame jealousy and resentment for the better – and how you did it.

 

 

 

 

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Never apologize for how you feel right here in this moment.  Good advice I think. 

This doesn’t mean you need to be a jerk about it or even that you’re in the ‘right’.  It also doesn’t provide you with special privileges.  You may learn something that changes how you feel or what you believe to be true.  Heck you might even finally realize that you are wrong about something.

That’s not the point.

If you are doing the best you can to understand something and be as empathetic as you can, there is no point in assuming that your feelings are anything other than what they are.

Apologising for that would be like saying your sorry for who you are.  neversaysorry

Of course the flip side to this is to be mindful enough to maintain an open heart and mind, so that you can learn and grow and not be stuck feeling righteous in your personal feelings.

The bit that many forget is two-fold.  First, yes you most certainly are entitled to feel how  you feel be it angry, happy, silly or whatever.  That said, you also must accept that so is every one else – no exceptions.  You don’t have to understand their feelings or agree with them in order to accept them for what they are; that isn’t always your place. 

The other bit that many forget is that empathy is a skill that needs practice.  We have yet to develop the ability to read each others minds and so being aware that others may feel differently and listening (and asking) is a huge part of being a compassionate and loving person.

We all want to connect in some way and feel understood.  It’s human nature. The best way to begin getting that, is to start GIVING that. 

Acceptance, empathy and compassion sound so simple on paper, but they can be much  harder to put into practice when we encounter difficult people.  When we are able to do this however, we bring peace to our lives rather than adding to the chaos and bitterness that so many drag with them on  daily basis. 

I have seen such a difference in my own relationships and dealings when I approach angry or upset people with a different attitude.  When I don’t allow myself to defend my thoughts and emotions and instead attempt to understand theirs. 

It’s amazing. 

Of course this doesn’t mean I’ll agree with them or they will change either.  Think on this though..the end result is still the same. No one agrees (or maybe they do) but there is much calmer process to get there.  I mean…why stress myself out if nothing is going to change anyway?  Besides I have found I get much better results when there is an attempt at compassion for the other person (no matter how distasteful the encounter might be at first).  You may never change your opinion or thoughts but it saves you a lot of extra heartache.

You may not be able to control how you feel about certain things but you can choose how you react to them.  Your emotions are just that…emotions.  You should never feel bad about feeling them.  And while they might guide you, they should never rule over you.

Your reactions to your emotions should fit the person you are choosing to become. 

 

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Ooh..I haven’t had a good rant for a while.

I’m not sure what’s been going on lately, but boy I’m getting tired of people who act like they are a victim in order to be horrible to others.  Justifying your crappy behaviour by acting like you have it so hard or that you are so much better or smarter or whatever and are trying to ‘help’  doesn’t make it any better.  It just doesn’t.

I know, I know…some of you might be saying “that’s what you see if you spend enough time on the internet”.  I wish it was just some crazy post on the net.  While that might be true I haven’t seen this many people unable to ‘hear’ themselves for some time both on and off line.

The nice girl part of me wants to apologise for this rant but I’m not going to.  It’s probably going to stir up some uncomfortable feelings for a few people and that’s good in my opinion. All I ask is that you try to hear the message.  

I’m fed up with folks who call out others for ‘picking on them’ and in the same breath try to knock down someone else.  Really?  Listen to your self!  I’ve had too many examples of this lately I don’t even know where to start.  

I suppose a perfect example of this is what a few of my friends have posted on Facebook.  Fox had some of its newscasters bash and mock Wiccan and Pagan religion.  (You can see the video here) In the same breath the female reporter complains that she isn’t supposed to say Merry Christmas and infers at the plight of Christians.   Sigh.   I have to say I was aghast that these people were not taken to task by the network, but more importantly I was flabbergasted that they couldn’t see the conflict in what they were saying. 

Or the case of listening to some adults make fun of a woman and her child because their clothes were worn and outdated.  I kid you not.  And in the same breath these women complain that they have such a hard time keeping up with their own childrens’ clothing wants.  I’m pretty sure they saw me looking at them in confusion.  Guess who is making that trendy clothing thing an issue?  

And this sort of thing has happened a fair bit lately.  Or maybe I’m just aware of it?  I’m not sure, but it’s really bugging me.

You know it’s like when people say ‘No offense but…” and then they are really offensive?  But think it’s okay because they qualified it with ‘no offense’.   For the record…It Isn’t Okay!

Aggg!  I get so frustrated when I see people so afraid that they might be diminished if someone else is able to hold their own differeing thoughts, opinions and beliefs.  Truly if yours are so shaky they can’t handle it perhaps you need to look at that.  If you feel so afraid to be the real you that you must cover it all up with “I’m a victim” and nastiness perhaps it’s time to look in the mirror and decide what it is you want to see.

Reminds me of the kid who isn’t winning and so takes his ball and goes home in a huff.   Belief systems, opinions, ideas are not about winning

Or the adult who says “but I only stated the truth” when saying something that is out of line or harsh and un-needed.  Please, there is truth and there is pointedly trying to seem better than everyone and make someone feel like crap.  Yes you are entitled to your opinion…but you can keep it to yourself.  My grandmother used to say be kind or be quiet.

To tear down another person does not elevate you.   It never has and never will.   Be it about what someone is wearing, their faith, their job or whatever.  Listen to what you are saying!

You know you can either give someone and hand up if you have the resources, or you can give them a push up if you only have love to offer.  Both of those things lift everyone up and the world gets better.  Rip them down and the word of hurt you are creating is the same one you have to live in.  Choose.

Ending rant here.   

Be_kinder_than_necessary

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Strength. 

What is this?  I mean we hear it all the time right? 

  • Get Strong
  • Be Strong
  • Inner strength

I think most of us think of someone who’s strong and we thing BIG.  We might even think aggressive.  Some of us might think powerful.  This might all be true when talking about physicalpopeye strength I suppose; but of what about that pesky topic of inner strength?

Unfortunately, many people think that it means the same thing.  Stong, aggressive, powerful people must have great inner strength.

I used to think  that this was true; that powerful, prominent people must have a great deal of that inner strength.  These days I wonder about that belief.

I’ve realized Power does not equal strength.  Not physical nor inner strength.  It doesn’t mean you don’t have both, it just means one does not automatically mean you have the other.  I mean Mother Teresa may have been physically weak, but my goodness didn’t she have incredibly inner strength?  On the other hand people in power often don’t have the kind of inner strength and values we might hope for.   Just look at so many of our politicians!

Inner strength is an odd thing.  What some of us think shows true inner strength, upon closer inspection, really does not.

There are a lot of really angry people out there in the world.  They feed off of their own angry emotions.  They project anger and their belief that the world is ‘out to screw them over’ into the universe.  Their belief seems justified to them when they find more situations to be angry about coming their way.  Of course they do…they are attracting them with their own beacon of emotion and thoughts!

They think they are being strong when they are defensive and quick to anger.  They believe this is where the power to ‘survive and thrive’ comes from.

Truth time!

I have to share something here and it may shock you, it may surprise you or it may just hit home.  But these people are so very wrong!

Being gentle, kind and compassionate with others takes far, far more strength then it ever did to be angry and blame them.

angerofthepastIt’s relatively easy to blame, be angry and lash out.  It takes the pressure off of you when you act like that.  After all, if the world is out to screw you over – it can’t ever be your fault or up to you to change it! 

This is a victim mentality.  It’s based in fear and defensiveness.  It isn’t healthy for you to live this way.  Not mentally, physically or emotionally.  It takes a huge toll on your body to have this kind of stress constantly present.  Anger is an emotion that is normal and sometimes quite healthy; but it shouldn’t be a lifestyle. 

I’ve had these people in my life and they are not fun to be around.  They are emotionally cut off from the good stuff in life which is not only heartbreaking and painful for those who care for them but wears them out as well.

Being loving is painful sometimes.  You get hurt, you hurt for those you can’t help and yes, you are vulnerable.  It is a risk every time you bring open doors of love to the game of life instead of building walls and turrets.

You want life worth living?  Then you must be prepared to understand some things.

  1. You are not perfect so know you will need to apologise at some point.  This is a strength, not a weakness
  2. You might get hurt.  But you can’t cut off one emotion without putting a lid on all of them.
  3. Life is meant to live forwards so let go of past hurts.  Assuming these will be repeated ensures they will.
  4. It takes more strength to let go of anger than it ever will to keep it.
  5. You grow and show true inner strength by living from your values

Anger and a defensive, closed life have the sort of strength that pushes others down and away. It diminishes you and those around you.   

Compassion and gentleness are the sort of strengths that pulls others up and embraces them.  It enhances you and those around you. 

Choose.

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Someone I know asked a really tough question the other day.  They were angry about someone who had hurt a child being allowed access to tv, computers and learning while in jail.  The comment was something along the lines of ‘how do they deserve that?’.

The story was disturbing, but the question she asked remained in my head for a long time.  She mentioned that she tries to have compassion for others in her daily life but can’t see how or why she ought to have any for someone who willfully hurts children.  She really just wanted them to feel the pain that they had inflicted.

That’s a tough one.  I had to take some time to think about that because I too struggled with the idea about whether ‘bad’ people deserve our compassion. 

This is what I have come to realize.

There is a difference between an expectation of justice and one of compassion.  At first, I thought perhaps I ought to feel compassion for a soul who is so twisted and tormented as to think harming a child (or any living creature for that matter) is okay.  I imagine that most of these people are mentally ill, or have been abused themselves.  What their life has brought them that led up to a horrible act might be worth my compassion.

But I have trouble there, as the majority of people who do bad things know they are doing harm and do it anyway.  It doesn’t resolve my issues for those who steal or destroy or even discriminate.  Those too are pretty awful crimes but do not always come from a mentally ill person. 

So while we might start there…we must look deeper I think.

What is compassion really? It is defined as sympathetic pity and concern for the sufferings or misfortunes of others.  It should come from a place of love.  How do you love a person like this though? You do so, simply because they are a creature on this earth as are we all. Should we deny them their humanity because of the way their life turned out? 

Consider if this was your child.  Would you stop loving them? Of course not.  Love doesn’t work that way.  You may not like them or their choices, you may even choose to remove them from your life but you never truly stop caring.

When someone does us – or someone we care for – wrong we have an emotional reaction that can be explosive.  We want to punish and extract vengeance.  We feel quite justified in this emotion and it is only natural I think.  Compassion is what drives us to believe people can change and be rehabilitated. 

Never has it been expected that having compassion for all creatures also means approval for all their actions.  This idea of compassion does not supersede the idea of justice.  It doesn’t mean allowing someone who is dangerous to wander the world either.   But it means whomever is meting out this justice does so with a mindset that is able to see that everyone is suffering in their own way.  Compassion ought to be the companion of justice.

When we fail to see the human being behind someone committing violence, then we add to the violence ourselves.  Perhaps compassion, like forgiveness, is really more for us than for the perpetrator?  We show compassion, not because others are or are not compassionate, but because we are a loving and compassionate person…period.

Is it easy to cultivate a compassionate mind for those who we see as ‘evil’?  No, it really isn’t.  But it is important to realize that compassion is an understanding of what it means to be an imperfect, flawed human being.

I’m still working this through in my mind and I’d love to hear your respectful thoughts on this.

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People who are constantly negative suck the happy right out of you.  There is a term for people like this and it is ’emotional vampire’.  I like it..very visual isn’t it?

A lot of people will tell you to get rid of and away from these people who seem to only be happy when they and every one else is miserable.  I see the point they are making. After all, why let someone bring you down right?

The thing is that may not be possible for you.  So, great advice in a perfect world but as we know this world isn’t always so perfect is it? 

I guess we’re stuck having to figure out how to deal with those people – at least some of the time. Otherwise we might find ourselves out of a job, lost to family and friends and very much alone in our ivory tower.  Although it might be good to have that ivory tower, because you’ll need a place to live without that job. 

First, I want to clarify that I’m not talking about a friend who is going through a tough time and is struggling to be positive.  I’m talking about those people who can’t for the life of them find joy in anything – even the good stuff – ever. 

I meet them and heck, I’m related to a few.  Here’s what I do. First, I work hard to cultivate my own inner peace and self-awareness.  No one else’s actions can destroy those things unless you let them.  But the key is to have both in place.  When you feel the drain or frustration coming on you can step back emotionally and refuse to participate in the negativity. You may need to let them in your life and space, but  you do not need to let them in your head!

I’ve actually used the mantra “you may not have my inner calm” over and over while having to deal with difficult people.   I know how I feel and react is a choice.  I may have to constantly choose to let go of upset and choose calm over and over, but I can do that! And I do.

The second thing I do is choose how I view that person.  I can go with the ‘eww yucky, get your negative vibe away from me!” sort of attitude but that isn’t really coming from a place of compassion or love now is it? 

Instead, I view them with love and compassion; sometimes a bit of sadness to be honest.  I feel sad that they only know how to feel badly.  However, I don’t let them take my positivity, instead I give it to them.  Sounds odd I know, but the choice makes all the difference.

I share my joy with them.  I let it fill the room.  When you give love and joy it multiplies and cannot be depleted.  When you allow it to be taken from you it does get worn out – at least for a while. 

Emotional vampires are draining and can make life difficult and you probably want to limit contact with them if possible.  Some people, on occasion you may even want to take steps to remove from your life if they are very damaging to you and yours.  Cutting someone out completely is not easy or at times even possilbe, for many reasons; taking them in smaller doses may be a better alternative in some cases.

I’ve heard said that you start to become like the 5 people you spend most of your time with.  So yes, when you can, choose people who you want to be like and who share your positive outlook; but on the other hand keep in mind you have influence too.  Perhaps you can soften someone elses harsh view of life by sharing kindness with them.

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I think I may have a birthday hangover…and not one caused by the delicious wine I enjoyed last night either.

It’s a happiness hangover. As in, the happiness from the celebrations and well-wishes have hung on over til today.  Okay..that might be stretching the analogy just a wee bit.  Still I gotta say I woke up this morning with a huge smile on my face none the less!

Before I share the list of the acts of kindness and compassion I have to say a couple of things.  The most important thing being I LOVED THIS.  I am so SO going to do this again but better next year.

Random is fine…but a bit of planning would have made this a thousand times better.

So here’s the list.  Some of them you would might have seen on my fan page. I hope if this inspires you to do something (even one thing) yourself you let me know.

1. I’ve already left a Starbucks gift card with the person behind me in line. They said no at first! lol I explained it was a birthday gift..mine. I then asked them to pass it down the line til it was empty. Talk about smiles!

2. I also made it a point to hold the elevator for an older couple who were way at the other side of the garage. They were all smiles and surprised. It only took an extra 8-10 seconds but that elevator can take forever to come back if you miss it.

3. Took extra time out of my morning to walk with an elderly gentleman that Charlie and I sometimes see and lament with him over the loss of his driver’s license. I let him talk it out and nudged him to think of things differently. He was smiling at the end. It would have been easier to simply wave across the park and keep going but he seemed deflated today. I’m glad I took the time.

4. Stuck up a flyer in my building’s elevator that said “I am in charge of how I feel today, and today I choose to feel fabulous! Make it a wonderful day”

5. Dropped off some clothes/shoes and a couple of motivational books at a women’s shelter

6. Waved over a packed car that was looking for parking in the very busy lot. Told them I parked two rows over and I’d meet them there as I was leaving. Now that got me a HUGE smile!

7. I went to Chapters today to use up my gift card I had received as a thank you a while back. The book I wanted was on sale so I had just over $2 left. Handed it to the lady in line who I noticed searching in the kids bargain bin with her  two little ones. Many of those books are around that amount so yay!

8. Driving down the busy street I noticed a car trying to leave a lot. I know that lot and its a pain to see whats coming so I slowed, stopped and waved her out. The reduction in stress was almost visible.

9. Picked up a big bag of cat litter, cat food, added in Charlies collars/leashes he outgrew before they barely saw the light of day and dropped them off at the local shelter.

10. Brought the volunteers at the shelter a box of chocolates. I am so grateful for people who do this heartbreaking work I figured a thank you was nice..but a chocolate one was nicer.

11. Offered to let the lady who was just buying one thing at the check out to go ahead of me.  She was so surprised.  Hey, it only took a few seconds extra for me and I was in no hurry.

12. At the grocery store near me you can get a small discount for bringing a reusable shopping bag.  I love that.  Behind me was an older lady who said she wished she had one like mine because the straps are wide and wouldn’t hurt her hands like the plastic shopping bags do.  I had three…needed only one…so I left one with the cashier for her.  Goodness knows I tend to collect them and certainly have enough!

13.  Walking Charlie at the park I made it a point to say hello to all the people who walked by us.  I said it with a smile and almost everyone smiled back.

14. I spent extra time with a child at the park who loves Charlie.  It’s pretty clear to me this boy has some trouble socializing with the other children.  I realized this over time and also noticed how much he enjoys petting and talking to Charlie.  I think he feels important too when I ask him to tell the other children about holding your hand out so Charlie can say hello by sniffing it before they pet him.  It’s amazing how a simple thing can transform a boy from withdrawn to confident.  We spent a long time there but this kid thrived at least for a  while.  (way to go Charlie!)

15. Left a gift of children’s books for a family I know of with some pretty lovely kids.  I know the family isn’t well off and I also know the kids will love the books. 

16. Helped my a couple wrangle their groceries and two huge boxes of pampers and a stroller with a sleeping baby into the building.  How do you parents DO it?  Baby stayed asleep and the parents were pretty  happy about that.

17. Let someone know that they were parked in a tow-zone.  They had no idea.  They didn’t understand the sign…I swear the government wrote the days you can’t park in such a cryptic way as to confuse people on purpose.

18.  Searched out the caretaker in my building and thanked him for all his hard work. I know that he works his butt off, especially as they cut his hours recently.  He still gets everything done and with a smile.  I let him know my appreciation for that.

19. I printed off all the coupons for Michael’s and when they were still out of the glue I needed I found someone to give the coupon too. In fact, I had 4 coupons.  One was only for frames so I wandered over to the frames/pictures area and looked for someone.  I found a lady who was really excited to get a 40% off coupon.  She stated that now she could get the frame that she really wanted! who hoo!

20.  Left 2 other coupons in the areas because I didn’t see anyone there.  Hopefully someone who needs ’em finds ’em!

21.  Opened my change purse and dumped all of it into the Seeing Eye Dog charity box.  The work they do is amazing.

22. Bought the man in a wheelchair asking for money a coffee and a cookie.  He’s there all the time, rain or shine, with something positive to say or simply hello even if you have no change for him. I had already given all my change away so used my debit card to get him something to warm him up at least.

23. Took a moment to tell the cashier I see all the time at the grocery store that I enjoy seeing her when I come and always come to her line.  I told her she is so warm and friendly that it’s a treat to chat for a few moments with her.  All true! 

And that’s what I have for my list.  I know I said I’d do 27 things for the 27th day of the month. I didn’t quite make it.  I had lots of great ideas but needed more time to implement them.

Next year, I’m going to plan ahead a little for at least some of them.  I thought maybe making some doggie cookies for the doggie friends at the park, cookies or pies for friends to surprise them with might be fun but there just simply wasn’t enough time in one day.

I also think I’d like to take some pictures next time.  The smiles lifted my hearts and I think it would be lovely to have a photo of some of the ‘event’s that took place don’t you?

That being said I learned a few things.

  • it doesn’t cost a lot of money (or any for that matter) to change the course of someones day
  • it doesn’t cost you a lot of time either
  • random acts are something we can always be on the look out for..like the car in the tow-away/fine zone
  • planning an act of kindness that is random for the other person is pretty awesome too…like the drop offs for the shelter
  • one random act can ripple out into a beautiful wave of positive energy
  • this is what Grace looks like

Walking through life looking to serve others brings a great deal of joy to ourselves.  It isn’t as a servant of people that you do them. It’s as a servant of love.  That is what makes all the difference.

It was my imagining that if many people started to do these types of things we might send more positive energy out into the world.  Perhaps it would start a shift in the total energy and move all of us to a happier and more joyful life.

A big image, a big goal…but I think it can be done…one act of love at a time.

Join me?

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