What comes to mind when you hear the word, compassion? Do you think of religious icons, such as Mother Theresa? Do you tap into a certain feeling of love around the word? It’s often used in conjunction with saving hungry children or an ability to offer forgiveness for something judged as unforgivable.
Good deeds, whether volunteering, saving a life, or rescuing an animal come to mind when I reflect on compassion. Based on the Latin roots of the word, the meaning of compassion is to suffer with. If someone shows kindness, caring, and a willingness to help others, they’re showing compassion.
Where most of us get into trouble is when we attempt to turn that kindness and caring on ourselves. I recently listened to an audio interview with Mike Dooley, author, speaker, and entrepreneur in the philosophical New Thought movement. Somehow the way he laid out the reasoning for taking full responsibility for ourselves suddenly made sense to me in terms of compassion.
Part of his philosophy means everything that happens to us is happening because of our thoughts. He talks about matter being swirling energy that is produced by the energy of thought. If we are pieces of that thought, we can create the matter we see. It’s really all an illusion. (I hope you’re staying with me here—I think it will be worthwhile).
He says everything about us, from our looks to our families to our timing of arrival on this earth was by choice, even though the rationale may not be evident to us now. It means that we are this divine spark of energy that chose to participate in this adventure for the greater contribution to the whole. We can’t see that grand perspective from where we are today, but one day we will and the compassion we will feel for every aspect of our limited existence will be immense.
Like a baby beginning to walk, we wouldn’t condemn and criticize the child for not doing better taking its first steps. We would encourage and congratulate this wondrous new life. Why would we treat ourselves any other way?
Let’s explore self-compassion from this angle. Assuming we bravely took the leap into this adventure called life and we made some missteps along the way, should we forever judge ourselves as less than or worthless? Or should we know that every step we take and decision we make comes from a perfectly designed-to-be-imperfect place. We deserve the greatest of compassion for just being here, let alone taking risks and growing from those experiences.
So the next time you’re beating yourself up for struggling with unhealthy behaviors, making a mistake, or whatever aspect of you that you are uncomfortable acknowledging, maybe it will help to know that you, at this moment, in this time, are right where you were meant to be.
Where can you let go of a judgment you have been holding onto about yourself? Just picture the scene, comfort yourself and let it go back to the elements from which it came (air, water, fire, or earth). I wish you all the love and compassion you can embrace and more.