If someone is suffering from hunger then it is more appropriate to provide nourishing food. If they are thirsty, provide them something to drink. If someone is in emotional pain bring your love and unconditional acceptance. Compassion is not the same as sharing an emotion. Compassion is understanding the other person’s situation and mindset.
When people are hurting, they tend to look up to those closest to them for support and encouragement. They need the trust of those they look up to so they can unfold their stories and feel liberated. You need to show people in need of compassion that you genuinely understand and respect their needs and concerns by listening well and making a concerted effort to see issues from their point of view (empathy). Your candour will build trust and pave the way for deeper understanding. Compassion is a deep awareness of and sympathy for someone that is suffering. Compassion is not the same as sharing an emotion. You don’t have to experience the same emotion as they do. Compassion is a state of mind in its own, a result from understanding the other person’s situation and mindset.
Are you truly compassionate? Do you get irritated when people try to hold you back and spend unnecessary time telling you their stories? In showing compassion you need to be patient with people. You need to be able to allow them to share their fears and darkness with you and be mature to keep their secrets safe. Compassion means having a sense of deep sympathy and a heartfelt feeling of sorrow for someone hurting physically, mentally or emotionally. It is an unselfish need to reach out to help relieve the unfortunate misery of a person in need. Compassion is not pity. If we feel pity for someone we tend to feel sorry for them, if we feel sorry for someone, we feel that they are somehow lesser than ourselves. Our expressions of pity for those in need are condescending. Don’t patronise them with your pity. Shower them with your loving kindness.
Compassion is a non-judgmental emotion we practice to ease pain and show genuine love to one another. Listen fully without judgment, give each person your full attention. Simple gestures of affection can help ease the strain and show your genuine compassion. Understand it is important when you genuinely love yourself because you can’t love your neighbour if you don’t love yourself. Until you can be compassionate to you, you’ll never be compassionate to others.
When you love yourself it is, easy to replicate that same love to others. If one part of the community within you is unkind to another aspect of yourself, then that personality will be unkind to others outside of the protective walls of the skin. Similarly, if you are negligent or neglectful of self, you will also neglect others. The bottom line is you can’t give to others what you can’t give to you. You need to develop yourself so you are able to release your overflow.
Compassion means “suffering with.” To be compassionate with yourself, you must have the courage to face and confront your own personal pain and suffering. You must open up and become vulnerable to yourself in dealing with your own situations. This is a painful process and it is one that might most likely occur at the same time a person is practicing compassion for others. Working on and passing through your own pain along with meditating is central to perfecting the ability to help alleviate the suffering of others.
Looking deeply at what causes your pain will enable you to see that your suffering is not any different from the sufferings of everyone. We all suffer the same things: anger, fear, loneliness, a feeling of being lost or empty, etc. These are the universal sufferings. It is likely that everyone has felt these emotions of despair. This enables you to connect with people as you understand their needs.
Once we begin to see the reasons of our own suffering, we will begin to see the same causes in those suffering outside of ourselves. Because you feel what they feel you will understand why they act the way they act and this will give you the advantage to show real compassion. At this stage there might be some people in the past that may have irritated you and pushed you to the edge, but you will see why they are the way they are. Until you’re in someone elses shoes and walk the miles they have walked you will never understand how they hurt.
A heart of compassion is a heart ready to go without judgement to anyone in need, is a heart that does not require reward. True compassion is the heart that loves unconditionally, without recompense, a heart that does not rush to judgment, a heart that sees that our own true inner being exists in every living creature. This is a heart that assists even though they don’t know you, but they know how you feel at that time. Our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion when we come in contact with others, even if they might say or act in ways that are not easy to accept. For our compassion to be real and authentic it cannot be reserved just for those we consider our friends or those we like or love.
Your compassion does not depend on the attitude of the individual. If we judge others, we are not showing compassion. When we judge, we are being dismissive. People in need can see this as rejection. You need to look at the weaknesses of others with compassion, not accusation. It’s not what they’re not doing or should be doing that’s the issue. The issue is your own chosen response to the situation and what you should be doing. The act of compassion begins with full attention. You have to really see the person. If you see the person, then naturally, empathy arises.
Empathy is a respectful understanding of what others are experiencing; it is judging others by their own standards; it is sensing others’ feelings and perspective, and taking an active interest in their concerns; it is to want the best for others, unconditionally. It is sharing another person’s perspective and specific distress; it is entering the private perceptual world of another person and becoming thoroughly at home in it; it is the capacity to think and feel yourself into the inner life of another person. Having deep compassion does not elude you of having empathy.
Empathy is showing that you understand another’s feelings or emotions; you identify with the situation and care enough to place yourself in their shoes. To help someone else you have to take your own needs out of the equation. Put your focus and energy on the other person, be selfless, and limit any distractions. Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. When you show deep empathy toward others, their defensive energy goes down, and positive energy replaces it. That’s when you can get more creative in solving problems.