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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Be Slow To Judge. Be Quick To Love.

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More than once she rubbed her belly as though reassuring herself in some way. And as I watched her, I felt her pain. I watched her as she softly rubbed her pregnant belly, and followed her gaze to the mother who was holding her infant as close to her as possible given the IV and monitors between them. I imagine she could feel that mother’s pain as she caressed the unborn child within her. She glanced down at her belly once more before continuing her rounds, checking on each child as they were wheeled out of surgery and into the recovery area.

She approached the father who rocked his baby girl and tried to wrap his strong arms around her, even though both her arms were bound in splints preventing her from giving or receiving a proper hug. She was obviously uncomfortable as she thrashed around, unable to keep still. I watched that daddy with all the patience in the world, hold his little girl, and whisper words to soothe her…words only to be shared by the two of them, words he hoped would comfort her and in turn comfort him too. And as I watched him, I felt his pain.

Just steps from them, I heard a couple simultaneously reciting a list of medications their young daughter was currently taking. I was taken aback by how efficiently they packed her belongings, wiped the drool from her mouth, and inched her wheelchair closer to the hospital bed in preparation for the transfer. I was in awe of how their every movement seemed to be part of a synchronized dance, each anticipating the other’s next move, each understanding their role. I watched them carry their daughter into her wheelchair, the mom brushing back a stray lock of hair off her daughter’s face, the dad gently cradling her like he must have when she was an infant even though her legs now draped and dangled over his arms. I realized their fluid movements must come from years of practice. And as I watched them, I felt their pain.

I returned my attention to the nurse as she led us to the waiting area where we would join the rest of the family members waiting for their loved ones to come out of surgery. It brought me back to all the moments in emergency rooms, hospitals, and doctor’s offices I had witnessed in the last two weeks – when I felt my own son’s pain as he doubled over, my daughter’s pain as she saw her brother in the hospital for the first time and tears streamed down her face, my husband’s pain as he stole worried glances at me when he thought I wasn’t looking. I saw complete strangers in pain, worried for their loved ones, faraway looks in their eyes as their current experiences caused them to relive another pain from another time, another place.

As I paced the waiting room, I watched the nurse deep in conversation with a dad and his teenage daughter who rubbed her bandaged arm to the same slow rhythm the nurse rubbed her pregnant belly. As I watched the fearful look in the young girl’s eyes, I felt her pain. It was then I glanced at another woman sitting off to the side by herself, and noticed she couldn’t take her eyes off the nurse’s hand as it moved up and down time and again, covering the span of her belly with soft, soothing strokes. Pain filled her eyes as her own hand mimicked the nurse’s movements. Yet, when I took a closer look at her hands I saw them caressing a very flat stomach, her teary gaze locked on the nurse’s hands as her own kept up the same rhythm. And as I watched her, I felt her pain.

As we cross paths with complete strangers, we must remember that our pain may seem greater because it is our own, but we truly have no idea where someone else’s pain stems from. Show compassion. Be slow to judge, but be quick to love.

Happiness and Compassion – obvious bedfellows?

Hi everyone. It’s link up time again. This month, as well as exploring compassion we are looking at happiness and its links to compassion. And you’d say there’s an obvious link, of course, wouldn’t you? When exploring compassion we are seeking to increase happiness aren’t we?

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The above quote was a favourite of my father. And I took away that message; be positive, be happy and share the joy. But the other side, the loneliness of sadness, the admonishment here, that being sad is somehow something you suffer on your own passed me by. That was for other people. I wasn’t falling into that trap. But being a little ray of sunshine can only go so far and it fails if you don’t appreciate what someone might be going through when not happy.

It has taken me a while to understand that being happy, positive and joyful can rub off on others but it can equally rub others up the wrong way. And that’s where compassion comes in. Yes, we want people to be happy, don’t we? But we don’t achieve that goal by allowing those who are sad, those who, for whatever reason, can’t, right this minute be happy, remain isolated.

Compassion means that we don’t let people weep alone. It means tending to those who struggle to find any happiness, any laughter at this precise moment. There’s a time and a place for positivity but laughter and happiness are not inextricably linked as once I thought they were. With compassion, however, we can bring more people back to laughter from whatever sad place they are just now.

This month’s link up is now open and ready for your posts. You can follow us across social media via the hashtag #1000speak and on Facebook at 1000 voices for compassion

 

Our Year of 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion

For this link-up we really needed to do a joint post from members of the 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion admin team. Not everyone could join us, but of those of us who could, here are our reflections  on the past year. Happy Anniversary everyone!

Lisa Listwa

Author%20Image%203%20Lisa%20A.%20Listwa[1]It’s hard to believe that our first post link-up for 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion was a year ago already! I have to say that being part of this effort and this group of people has been truly a remarkable experience. Most of the time, #1000Speak is something that kind of goes on in the background of my life, churning away without calling attention to itself. And yet, I find that I have never been more aware of compassion and its benefits in the moments of my days. I find myself attracted to and reading different and better types of blog posts, articles, and books. I pay attention to how I treat myself and others, considering whether words and actions are truly compassionate in nature. Compassion seeps into my conversations with my husband and my daughter, with family and friends, and with my self. Do I always act with compassion? I’m certain not. But the desire, the awareness, and the effort are always there. I have been blessed and fortunate to have met and collaborated with interesting and incredible people from all walks of life all over the world. Our desire to create a more compassionate world unites us, defines us, and brings us all to a better understanding of what it means to think and act and love compassionately. This experience has been life-changing in just the short year since we started. It is my sincere hope that it will continue to be so for me, for you, and for all of us.

Geoff Le Pard

IMG_3554The cliché has it that ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’. With compassion, over the last year I have found ‘Compassion shared is compassion exponentially increased’. The beauty of the 1000 Voices is that it exposes how one’s own limited definitions, narrow knowledge base and one dimensional experiences merely scratch the surface on what compassion means and how it can impact people’s lives. For me, I’d given no thought to self-compassion; I’d looked on forgiveness of others as having a higher importance than forgiving oneself. I’ve learnt there is no hierarchy to compassion – it is ubiquitous and universal. It is a joy to share and a joy to indulge in one’s own quiet spaces. It can be found in the beautiful and the brutal. It can state the obvious while it reveals deeply hidden truths. And underpinning it all the application of compassion makes us more human.

Roshni AaMom

Screen Shot 2016-02-21 at 22.09.14The best part of being a part of #1000Speak is my close interaction with so many beautiful people! I love that I am a part of this group and close friends now with Yvonne, Lizzi, Lisa, Erin, Leah, Jen, Erin, Geoff, and so many more! I love that we all put up such thoughtful posts and loving updates, compared to the vast majority of abrasive, caps-lock-on posts that seep into our timelines! We need more compassion, consideration, and humanity in this world, and I’m proud to be a part of a movement that strives for that!

Lizzi Lewis

LizziWhilst my personal life has changed dramatically in the last year, I don’t think the world at large has changed too much. The headlines are different, but there still exists the same proliferation of heartbreak, tragedy, corruption, and hurt. The stories of positivity, human-as-champion, and triumph-for-all are still shining stars against a backdrop of darkness, are still grasped for with hopeful fingers and nostalgia for the days when the world was perfect; before our visions of its goodness were broken and we realised we’d never hold their glitter in our palms.

That said, what HAS changed, for me, has been perspective.

As I’ve immersed myself (time and life allowing) in the efforts to encourage compassion, connection, and togetherness, I’ve made time to open my eyes to more of the good in the world. I’ve noticed where people try, in their ways, to do good and be the positive difference needed in their particular situation. I’ve paid attention to the organisations and causes which seek to right wrongs, execute justice, and show mercy. I’ve SEEN the light.

So I’m convinced. The good which IS still out there, is teaching me to wish on stars again, to believe that most people are mostly good, that we CAN change the world for the better, and that together, we can shine with indescribable brightness.

Thank you, to everyone who has been involved, supported, encouraged, shared, and participated in 1000Speak. Let’s keep bringing the light.

Yvonne Spence

DSCN2592 - Version 3I’ve been awed to the point of tears by what the others have written here about their year of Compassion, and I’m finding it almost impossible to put into words the impact 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion has had for me.
To say it’s changed my life is both true and not true. It’s not true because when I invited others to join me in writing about compassion, I already knew its power. For several years, I had been practising techniques that develop compassion, including self-compassion, and had seen the effects this had on relationships and life in general. So in some ways 1000 Voices Speak For Compassion has been an extension of what I already did.
I’ve just realised, reading some of the posts on the link-up, what has changed for me. And, in a way, it’s ironic. I invited people to join me in writing about compassion, because I often read posts in which bloggers felt alone in caring for others (or if not alone, out-numbered by those who didn’t.) I could see that many, many people did care, and getting them together would let them see this. That has happened. I’ve read post after post, comment after comment, in which people say they love being part of our community because of the stories of kindness, love and hope they see, because of the support they feel, because we have more power as a group than we did as individuals.
So why is this ironic? Because it’s what I get most out of being one of a thousand voices speaking for compassion too. I feel supported by our group, by the others in the admin group, by the members. As I wrote in my post for this month’s link-up: when we give compassion to another, we give it to ourselves. And maybe when I started this group so others would feel less alone, I gave that gift to myself too.

Tamara Woods

Author PhotoWhen this started a short year ago, I was in a negative space in my heart. I’m an optimistic person with a heavy side of skeptic and the cynic was winning. I wanted to be a part of something that had the potential to be much bigger than me and what I could see in front of me. I wanted to prove to myself that there were still people who gave a damn. I hoped we’d reach a couple hundred people. Then everything exploded and people came out of the woodwork to be involved. All of these wonderful people around the world wanted to be a part of something special too. Each month there’s been a new call to arms, people arming themselves with love and light. Spreading the joy all over the internet. I couldn’t be more proud to have been here for it.

Michelle Liew

Compassion has always been a huge part of my life. Like most, I have encountered, and still do, circumstances that call for it.

Last year brought to light many instances where compassion was, and still is necessary. The war on terrorism and resulting famine make this all too clear.

That said, 1000 voices has shown that compassion is evident. There are people who are willing to reach out to others in big and small ways. That kindness lies in each of us, and we need to call it forth.

This year of compassion shows that it needs to grow, but it also shows that it is there.

Leah Vidal

Profile PicI’ve always been fond of saying, “Compassion begins at home.” The truth is that isn’t always the case. Some of us have been fortunate to have experienced lessons in compassion from those closest to us. Some of us are making a choice each and every day to instil compassion in our children and those whose lives we touch. Some of us have found compassion where we least expected it. This past year, #1000speak has taught me that compassion begins wherever the seed is planted and when watered and nurtured compassion can flourish and stretch its limbs to the furthest reaches of the world. Its love, light and color can brighten the darkest corners of the earth, join compassionate strangers across the internet, and spark hope in every heart it touches. This movement just keeps getting stronger and I am honored to have been a part of it. Thank you to all who have opened their hearts and made a choice to flood the internet and ultimately our world with compassion.

 

Now it’s over to you!

How has the year of compassion been for you? Let us know in the comments. Or even better, write a post and add it to the link-up, by clicking the blue button below.

Forgiveness: The Presence Of Its Absence

“It’s impossible to count the number of words in a language, because it’s so hard to decide what actually counts as a word. Is dog one word, or two (a noun meaning ‘a kind of animal’, and a verb meaning ‘to follow persistently’)? If we count it as two, then do we count inflections separately too (e.g. dogs = plural noun, dogs = present tense of the verb). Is dog-tired a word, or just two other words joined together? Is hot dog really two words, since it might also be written as hot-dog or even hotdog?

It’s also difficult to decide what counts as ‘English’. What about medical and scientific terms? Latin words used in law, French words used in cooking, German words used in academic writing, Japanese words used in martial arts? Do you count Scots dialect? Teenage slang? Abbreviations?

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The Second Edition of the 20-volume Oxford English Dictionary contains full entries for 171,476 words in current use, and 47,156 obsolete words. To this may be added around 9,500 derivative words included as subentries. Over half of these words are nouns, about a quarter adjectives, and about a seventh verbs; the rest is made up of exclamations, conjunctions, prepositions, suffixes, etc. And these figures don’t take account of entries with senses for different word classes (such as noun and adjective).

This suggests that there are, at the very least, a quarter of a million distinct English words, excluding inflections, and words from technical and regional vocabulary not covered by the OED, or words not yet added to the published dictionary, of which perhaps 20 per cent are no longer in current use. If distinct senses were counted, the total would probably approach three quarters of a million.”- Oxford Dictionaries

Three quarters of a million! And, in that total are two little words that are uttered countless times in passing. I’m sorry rolls off the tongue when we accidentally bump into someone. I’m sorry is instilled in preschoolers across America on a daily basis as they learn to socially interact with others in preparation for social interaction on a grander scale.

For some women, I’m sorry is habitually the opening to a sentence, as though they are excusing their rightful demands before the request is even complete. Why are you sorry? For speaking your mind? For being you? For being heard?

These two short words when voiced together hold the weight of three quarters of a million if placed on a scale. Yet, they are losing their value as we use them without substance or consideration to their meaning in the particular instance in which we present them.

“I’m sorry you feel that way” reduces the intensity of an argument. However, are we really sorry the person expressing something which obviously offended us enough to spark an argument “feels that way?”

“I’m sorry I can’t work late today” presents us in a better light when responding to the boss’s request for overtime. Yet are we really sorry we can’t burn the midnight oil in place of spending more time with our loved ones?

“I’m sorry if this blog post offends anyone” is often typed at the beginning of posts all across the bloggerhood. And, truth be told if we are writing it, posting it, sharing it…we aren’t truly sorry are we?

Two words. I’m sorry.

Their presence often goes unnoticed as they are squeezed between more words until they are distorted into something different in their meaning. They tumble out in an avalanche of words that rush them past their significance, sending them flying down a slope of meaningless jargon. I’m sorry…originally meant to convey an apology has warped from a heartfelt emotion into an empty message. These two words are flung about repeatedly as a way of appeasing the recipient, softening them, plying them to bend to our will often in the hopes of easing our own conscience. The magnitude of those two little words being spoken to one whose been slighted holds more meaning than three quarters of a million other words. Looking in someone’s eyes and expressing your regret, your remorse, your apology…with your eyes, your words and ultimately your heart is an action that comforts both the recipient and the giver.

And yet…

And yet, the presence of their absence is felt to our very core when it is all we seek to move forward, when we are at a standstill unable to take another step as pain and hurt hold us firmly rooted. The presence of its absence holds us hostage.

This month’s 1000Speak topic is Forgiveness. Join in with your own post and read other’s take on it here.

#1000Speak Link-up: LOVE

This month at 1000 Voices Speak we are focusing on LOVE.

Love has to be one of the most used–and most misused–words in the English language.

Ask a hundred people what ice cream is, and you’ll get responses that sound similar – a yummy frozen creamy dessert.

Ask a hundred people what love is, and you’ll get a hundred answers.

Take these two quotes:

“It is better to be hated for what you are than to be loved for what you are not.”
― André Gide

“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
― Martin Luther King Jr.

Can they be talking about the same thing? I think not. The first implies that love is conditional, and should only be given to the deserving. Gide was doubtless meaning that a false persona being approved of by the public is worse than the real you being disapproved of. But love and approval aren’t the same thing. Approval is conditional, depends on moral choices, and can be used to try to control others.

The love Martin Luther King is talking about is different. It is unconditional, is the kind of love you can easily find for a baby or a puppy, even after they have just shredded your slippers. It is the kind of love we are less willing to find for other people when they don’t do what we would like them too, or when they remind us of our own dark side that we’d rather not see. When they remind us of our own self-hatred.

You might say that because Martin Luther King was murdered his love didn’t manage to drive out hate. There is still racial hatred both in America and other countries around the world. There is still hatred across religious and political divides. But that doesn’t mean King was wrong. It just means love’s job isn’t finished.

It’s easy to look at people like King and say, “But he was different. I can’t do that.” Easy, but untrue. As a child, King father beat him, and he suffered from depression for much of his life. In his younger years he felt resentment fro the way black people were treated. But he chose let go of this resentment.

King said: “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

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Over to you. Join us in the comments with your thoughts on this post. Or write a blog post and share it in the link-up, which you can find by clicking the blue button below. We want to hear from you, whatever your views.

Do you agree with Martin Luther King? Is hate too great a burden to bear? Can you choose to let it go, or is it more complicated than that? Maybe you have let go of hate, and found relief. Tell us about that. Or just tell us what love means to you. Does it come from inside or out? Is loving yourself kind or selfish? What’s the difference between love and wanting? Is that old song: “Love Hurts,” really about love or something else? Can love hurt?

Join in the conversation! We’d love to hear from you.

This month, 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion continues to work toward a better world with a particular focus on LOVE, as well as the broader topic of compassion.

Write a post relevant to this month’s focus – love – and add it to the link-up right here by clicking the blue button below.

Here’s how to get involved:

Join 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion on Facebook

Follow @1000Speak on Twitter

Use the #1000Speak hashtag across social media.