It is as important to be a good recipient of the gift of compassion as it is to be the giver. Or are they really any different? Some people misinterpret what compassion really is. It's neither sympathy nor empathy. The goal here is not to feel sorry for an individual, nor is it necessary to "identify" with him or her.
What is powerful - and life-changing - is connecting with a person who is totally competent and capable of learning in the ways that, together, you find work best.
Each and every one of us has inherent greatness within us. We all are born with a creative mechanism in our minds which has the capacity to find solutions to all that we need to live a peaceful and fulfilling life.
When you are able to suspend judgment - surrender your need to punish, judge and label others out of fear and a belief that you must be strict, rigid or harsh to control them into behaving - you will be able to access compassionate connection more readily and easily.
If what you are offering is compassion, you will feel a lift in your energy. That's the real power of it. There is absolutely no force to it, so there is no energy expended. Everyone feels better, not worse. The only "work" necessary is remembering to interrupt yourself - in the midst of old reactionary behaviors to certain types of people and situations - to make a conscious choice to put compassion first.
When you are compassionate with others, you feel it for yourself. When this happens, you feel a softening throughout your entire being - your psyche, your shoulders, your back... and your heart. If this happens for you, then you can also know it's happening for others.
On those occasions when I feel inwardly directed to hand money to a person who is asking for money at freeway exits or grocery store parking lots, I have had some of the most profound, amazing and moving experiences of my life.
I'll never forget the first time it happened. I was coming up an off-ramp and I saw, on the left side of my vehicle, a father standing with his teen-age son. It was probably because of the boy that I felt an urgent need to reach quickly into my pocket book and pull out any cash I could find. Two twenties landed in my fingers and I rolled down my window to reach out and hand it to the father.
As he reached out and gently took the money from my hand, he looked directly and deeply in my eyes and as he touched my soul he said, "Bless you." In that instant, I immediately felt a deep connection. The light changed and I forced myself to drive. I was so overwhelmed with a world of feelings in that moment. I felt it all. The world of suffering and pain. The world of ecstasy and wonder. The world of amazing light and love enveloped me and all I could do was weep and weep and weep some more, deeply, from my heart.
I pulled off the side of the road, because I couldn't even drive. I was so overcome by what had just happened.
It matters not to me what people who ask for money actually do with the money. It's all about what happens as we look into each other's eyes and hearts. It is something I can, in fact, give that has the potential to make a lasting difference. In the Teddy Stallard story, Miss Thompson didn't attach the level of her giving to what Teddy would or wouldn't do with it. She simply thought about Teddy compassionately because it was what was needed.
There is a heart that beats within every single one of us. Compassion calls the heart of the matter forth in ways that are beyond our human understanding.
How compassion works is a mystery as deep as life itself. With compassion, there is a whole range of positive possibilities. The real power of compassion is that, when it is authentically felt and freely given, it is profoundly life changing.
Whether you consider yourself a realist, just plain practical, or a devout skeptic, when you simply decide to think compassionate thoughts, the power of the feeling that is ignited is palpable. The connection is instantly available and deeply real. Compassion is, after all, a deep awareness of the suffering of another, coupled with the wish to relieve it.
It is truly wanting others to be free from suffering. And when we offer this, we have made a difference. The compassion within is what makes the difference.
Excerpt from The Power of Compassion: 7 Ways You Can Make A Difference
©1990 to 2020 Mary Robinson Reynolds.
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