Compassion During Sadness and Disappointment

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion is focusing on compassion during sadness and disappointment.

In many ways 2016 has been a tumultuous year, with a referendum in the UK and an election in the USA that deeply divided people. Racism and xenophobia have shown marked rises in both countries and the implications of both votes are being felt around the world.

On top of this, the violent conflict in Syria still continues, and refugees are still struggling to find a place to call home. After the camp at Calais was closed, some children who lived there without parents and were supposed to be moved to safe centres but have reported being forced to work for no money and that they don’t feel safe in their new accommodation.

So, on a global level, there is plenty to feel disappointed about.

Many of us also have day to day disappointments – illness, bereavements, setbacks at work or school, or in some other way. We feel sadness, fear, anger. Sometimes we feel like giving up. Sometimes we close in on ourselves and shut out the world, wallowing in misery and not caring about anyone else.

Yet other times, even though our own suffering, we find it within ourselves to care about the suffering of others. We reach out, both for support and to support.

What makes the difference? If you have a story to tell about a time you reached out to others, even when feeling disappointment or sadness, we’d love to hear it. The link-up is open until the 29th this month, so you have plenty of time to write a post and share it through the blue button below.

How do you respond compassionately when feeling sadness and disappointment? How do you find self-compassion in those circumstances – and why is so it important to do so?
How do you approach someone else’s disappointment or pain with compassion?
These are just few questions to consider, and if you have a different angle, we’d love to hear it.
Remember, the link up is open until the 29th, so get those posts in!

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#1000Speak June – A Home Remedy for the World

I’ve been thinking so much about the various news stories splayed across the headlines lately.

It seems no matter where you are across the globe, there is a story about something negative. Gorillas, alligators, mass shootings, politics, health care, animal cruelty, unemployment, gun control… I could go on, but I won’t. You know what the headlines and the horrors are in the world. You know that behind every headline is so much more of the story than we will ever know from reading the news. Maybe those stories are somehow better than what is presented; maybe they are worse. But at the end of the day, no matter the story, the overarching problem I see is that the world is sick.

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I have a vague memory of a cartoon drawing of the earth with a cold – or something – and that’s what comes to mind lately. Our world is sick and it needs some kind of remedy. But what? I see quotes and memes go by on my computer screen all the time suggesting what might help: The world needs love. The world needs faith. The world needs compassion.

It’s all true.

But how do we begin to heal a world that on some days seems so far gone?

As I prepared to write this post over the last few weeks, this question goaded me and made me forget every idea I thought I had to share here. I couldn’t help coming back to this nagging question of what must we DO in order to help our world, help one another?

We need to get back to basics. We need to start with the closest, simplest task and that is to heal our Selves.

My #1000Speak posts tend to focus on self-compassion and I suppose my words here will be no different. If we want to see change on a global level, we have to start on a personal level. As I thought more and more about this, I suddenly remembered some words I encounter very often at a place I visit regularly, but rarely take time to see. The words I’ll share with you here are from Robert Rodale and his wife, Ardath Harter Rodale, two people who dedicated their lives to improving not only their own lives, but the lives of others in various ways. Consider how their words might be applied on a very intimate, individual, and personal level, but also consider how they might be applied on a much larger scale.

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“Health is the ability to find superior powers of body and mind and to use them for full, fruitful, and enjoyable living.”

“Every living thing has an inner urge to get better. To renew. To use the power of life to heal from within.”

~Robert Rodale

 

“May your eyes be filled with the light of sunshine to invigorate every part of your body, mind, and spirit.”

“May health and love flow through your veins to bring you peace and harmony.”

~Ardath Harter Rodale

 

I know, I know. Given the magnitude and frequency of negativity in the headlines lately, how can we think that such simple and wholesome ideas would make a difference?  How is it possible to believe there is such light and hope and power in the world when there is so much evidence to the contrary? Maybe if we can take even just a little bit of that positive thinking, that conviction that all living things have the potential for good, for change, and for health, we might see the world – and the people in it – in a different light. Maybe we can be gentler with ourselves, kinder and more compassionate to one another, more understanding and accepting of ourselves and of one another.

What we need is a good old fashioned home remedy like Grandma’s chicken soup or hot tea with lemon. There may not be much proof of whether or not it will work, but it can’t hurt to hope and it can’t hurt to try. Try compassion. Try kindness. Try love. See if it helps. See if it makes you feel better. It certainly can’t make things any worse.

 

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This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better, more compassionate world.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Visit the 1000Speak blog

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.

This month’s link up is open and ready for your posts and will remain open until June 28th.  To join in the Link-up and read more posts, click the blue button below and follow the instructions.

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Self-Compassion Heals

“Compassion isn’t some kind of self-improvement project or ideal that we’re trying to live up to. Having compassion starts and ends with having compassion for all those unwanted parts of ourselves, all those imperfections that we don’t even want to look at.”

Pema Chodron

Compassion is what 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion is all about. As Pema Chodron says in the quote above, this does start and end with having compassion for the parts of ourselves we consider flaws. Self-compassion is not something you do once but is a lifelong process. Each time you see some aspect of yourself that you don’t like, try forgiving it instead.

Does this seem hard? Then just do the best you can.

As Christopher Germer says:

“A moment of self-compassion can change your entire day. A string of such moments can change the course of your life.”

 

It’s no secret that most people find it harder to be compassionate with themselves than they do with other people. So just one moment of kindness towards ourselves can make a difference in a day that otherwise would be filled with self-punishment.

However, as Louise Hay says:

“Remember, you have been criticizing yourself for years and it hasn’t worked. Try approving of yourself and see what happens.”

That’s been my experience. The aspects of my life where I criticised myself most were where I was least successful. The criticism didn’t work and made me feel bad.

In case you worry that self-compassion will make you self-indulgent, Christopher Dines explains why this it won’t:

“To be self-compassionate is not to be self-indulgent or self-centred. A major component of self-compassion is to be kind to yourself. Treat yourself with love, care, dignity and make your wellbeing a priority. With self-compassion, we still hold ourselves accountable professionally and personally, but there are no toxic emotions inflicted upon and towards ourselves.”

Kristin Neff also says,

“With self-compassion, if you care about yourself, you do what’s healthy for you rather than what’s harmful to you.”

Many people worry that if they are compassionate towards themselves, that would be letting themselves off the hook. They imagine it means they would avoid responsibility for their actions and leave someone else to soak up the mess. But this could not be further from the truth. My experience is that the more compassionate I am with myself, the easier it is to say, “I messed up. I did it.” When we expect the world to cave in around us if we admit to a mistake, we avoid doing so. When we know that we are okay, even if what we did was foolish, unkind, careless or just plain ignorant, we aren’t afraid to admit our mistakes.

Here’s Neff again:

“Admitting that we’re fallible human beings doing the best we can and being compassionate to ourselves in the face of our misdeeds, actually allows us to take more responsibility for our actions.”

There’s another reason why practising self-compassion isn’t something to fear. Somehow, many of us have the idea that if we are compassionate towards ourselves, it means we will see ourselves as more deserving than others, or better than them. However, the opposite is true. Almost without fail, what we feel doubtful about or dislike in ourselves, we also dislike in others.

As Byron Katie says when describing how she used to live before she began questioning her stressful thoughts:

“‘Love thy neighbor as thyself.’ I always have. I hated me, I hated you.”

Osho agrees:

“If you don’t love yourself you will never be able to love anybody else.  Psychologically it is impossible. If you cannot be kind to yourself, how can you be kind to others?”

As we become more self-compassionate, we feel better about ourselves and have less need to look for flaws in others to make ourselves feel better.

Here’s Brene Brown explaining how that works:

“If I feel good about my parenting, I have no interest in judging other people’s choices. If I feel good about my body, I don’t go around making fun of other people’s weight or appearance. We’re hard on each other because we’re using each other as a launching pad out of our own perceived deficiency.”
I’m going to give the last word to Osho:

“Just being with somebody who accepts you totally is therapeutic. You will be healed.”

Okay, not quite the last word. Because, how about if you make that somebody yourself? You will be healed and you will be more able to help others heal!

Thank you for loving you!

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a focus on Self Compassion.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Visit the 1000Speak blog

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.
To join in the Link-up or read more posts, click the blue button below and follow the instructions.