What does compassion mean?
This week is the veritable “hump day” of my online e-course I am doing. The course has been enlightening, inspiring and exhausting. We’ve addressed “curiosity” and then “honesty,” writing about the ideas in our lives and identifying them in concrete ways. The writing has been coming easily.
All of which makes me very, very angry.
That’s my go-to defense mechanism. Get angry, start ranting, deflect love, prove that people don’t really like me and I’m not worthy of attention, feel bad about all of that, sit in lonely funk, write about it angrily.
Stir, rinse, repeat.
“Our default wiring is to help… If we attend to the other person, we automatically empathize… we feel “with” automatically. The question is, why don’t we? ” — Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence
Then, some wise woman will come along and say: “Don’t be so hard on yourself.” What does THAT mean?
Or some friend will say: “Sheesh. Lighten up. Take it easy. It was just a JOKE!” hahaha very funny!
And I get whipped around in the anxious frustration, again, about not being good enough at being able to be nice to myself, or to others, or to even just spotting a stupid joke.
Wow, it’s hard work being all this!
And Now for the Extended Metaphor
It’s the compassion of week 3 that’s got me all stirred up. Being kind. To myself. To others. Thinking about it! ARGH! Because it’s different that just being “kind.” But how? I have no idea. What does Compassion mean?
That’s why Compassion is terrifying!
It’s like a kitten, right?
Kittens are so cute and soft and cuddly. So you take one home, and you say: “I can do this!”
And at first it’s cute, but then you put it in its box so you can go to the bathroom or the bar, then it cries and whines all night, and then it pees all over your duvet, and then it hides in the wall.
Then just when you think it’s gone forever and it’s died in there (and yeah just when you think “that’s gross” and you are a worried about the smell, and you think you will get arrested, but you are maybe a teensy relieved?), it comes out and says:
Compassion kitty, I don’t have any idea who you are or what to feed you.
“Compassionate action involves working with ourselves as much as working with others.