Compassion and Suffering

As a trained therapeutic counsellor, compassion for me is a word that is soaked in empathy.

It includes creating a sacred space to listen without judgment and having my clients’ best interests in mind.

It involves knowing that my clients already have all the wisdom and inner resources they need and my job is simply to provide the space and support for them to access it.

As a human being, it is also about having a heartfelt concern for the well-being of the people I meet in everyday life and also every single person on this planet.

It also includes having a heart that cares about the suffering that goes on here, whether that is my own suffering right here, right now, or someone else’s far away in some distant land somewhere.

For me, it includes allowing and honouring each person’s own journey through life however that may take place and at whatever pace.

It is also an acceptance of what is, as it is, since we are all, in a way simply expressions of the One Self, creating experiences for Itself according to Its desire.

What it is not

It is not about taking too deeply into ourselves the pain of suffering on behalf of others when we see them suffering.

Otherwise, attaching to the actual or perceived pain of the tragic events and atrocities we see so often in the news and media (if we choose to watch) creates more suffering than is actually necessary.

I remember when the events of 9/11 unfolded I was absolutely devastated, along with many other people around the world. It sent me into a 3-month long depression and period of chronic pain. This was because I attached to it in ‘overdrive’ when, in actual fact, there was nothing much that I could do for the people involved at that time.

So, being compassionate involves empathizing, but not becoming too overinvolved or too attached. It doesn’t help them or us.

Instead, we can decide to take whatever appropriate action we can when it is possible to do so when we see suffering going on in ourselves or others, and after that, we leave it as it is.

I think we also need to remember to look for the Divine in these moments of our suffering to take in the bigger picture and to remember that our understanding of it all is limited.

For me, a necessary part of compassion is to see ourselves as a part of that bigger picture, part of the whole, as if the whole of humanity is one organism all interconnected. We are connected so if we harm ourselves, for example by self-judgment or criticism, we are also harming others by default.

I find that whenever I fall into judging myself for one thing or another I become less available to others and deprive them of the benefit of my light.

Living in Duality

We all suffer at some point and at various stages of our lives. Equally, we can all connect with true peace, love and joy.

This dual nature of humankind and the world is part of what enables us to tell the difference between say, love and hate, sadness and joy, hope and despair.

Wisdom and awareness arise through the ability to discriminate between these. Discernment is an essential part of the path to enlightenment and the basis for making free choices.

It wasn’t until I became compassionately aware of what was happening inside of me, my patterns, triggers, pain, traumatic imprints, my interpretations of my experiences and so on that I was able to reconnect with my deeper truth and joy

Choosing to be compassionate towards ourselves involves being kind, affectionate and caring towards ourselves and accepting ourselves just as we are, without judgment or self-criticism and with genuine, loving inner and outer support and affection.

Self-Acceptance as Part of The Healing Journey

My own healing journey from trauma began with these compassionate words spoken by my husband when I first met him: “I accept you just as you are”. It was this acceptance that allowed me the space to discover who I truly am and to let go of everything that I am not

Self-acceptance is not a justification for staying stuck … as when some may say, ‘it’s just the way I am!’, as this would continue the suffering and not alleviate it!

It is a way of allowing yourself to be with your suffering, honestly and just as it is, not ignoring it, just being in awareness of it without judging yourself for being a failure or for being ‘selfish’ for giving yourself some attention. In fact, it entails the transcendence of selfishness.  It is an allowance that doesn’t get caught up in immediately wanting to ‘fix it’ or trying to ‘tough it out’.

When I looked at my setbacks with a loving, accepting embrace, with compassionate awareness, this provided the support that freed up the flow so that positive change could happen. When we judge or try to assert control we stop the natural healing flow.

Compassion is about looking after yourself and your true needs so that you feel complete, satiated, fulfilled and open to growth.

I found that as I developed a genuine sense of concern for my own well-being (rather than being in ‘survival mode’) this also radiated out to others. I became more open to treating them as I would wish to be treated myself and to refraining from inflicting pain.

Love is The Foundation

Compassion is a love-based rather than fear-based motivation, inviting, encouraging and supporting us with true tenderness, instead of aggressively beating ourselves with a stick through feelings of lack, or not being good enough or being afraid to fail

I found a delightful curiosity and sense of adventure in it, forgiveness and reconciliation, affection and appreciation, just being there, mindfully present, willing to see the truth beyond the surface and remaining open to deeper possibilities.

It is where my true being, my freedom, peace, joy and fulfillment resides   

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