Notes on Love – Compassion (again!)

1st May 2016

S2630053How many times have you read a self-help book and been told to “fall in love with yourself”? How many personal development gurus preach that we must love and accept our shadows unconditionally? These may be clichés of the modern Mind, Body, Spirit movement, but they are also universal truths and full of truth. So how do we do this? How do we get to that place where we are ok with the dark truth of those disturbing places in the lower basement of our subconscious? I don’t care how sweet you look, there is some dark shit inside of you so we are all in the same boat here!

The simple answer is that we need to feel compassion for ourselves and for others. Being compassionate for both ourselves and others go hand in hand, because sometimes it is easier to be understanding and forgiving of others before we can do the same for ourselves. Sometimes it is the other way around. So we develop the two side by side, over time. Feeling compassion is the path to loving ourselves, but how do we create or realize compassion inside for ourselves?

For me, the path to compassion has come through developing awareness of who we are and how we become who we are. My journey to compassion began at an early stage with a hunger to understand people. As a 10 year old, I used to listen to the late night radio shows on “Sexual & Emotional Problems” because I was fascinated by people’s psychological problems. This was an early sign of a keen interest in human beings and what makes them tick. By understanding ourselves more, we unravel our sense of who we are (often a jumble of confusing and contradictory ideas) and free ourselves from the emotional baggage we carry around with us: our fear, our hates, our anger, our likes and dislikes. When we see ourselves more clearly and let go of the junk, then we can see ourselves and the world differently. We stop being the behavior and see new possibilities for ourselves.

As this new sense of self takes shape within us, we also see people differently. We create new possibilities for how we perceive the world and the people around us. Instead of judging and condemning, we discern more of who they are and in doing so see them as being more whole. Instead of focusing on their anger or fear, we see the pain from which it comes and allow a sense of connection with that person to emerge from our understanding. (Note that understanding and the compassion associated with it is not the same as condoning or accepting someone’s behavior.)

For me, the magic of compassion is two-fold: firstly, it creates space around a person for them to grow into something new. This is the opposite of judgment which quarantines someone (or ourselves) in a box – “angry”; “fearful”; “lazy”; “annoying”; “fat”; “unspiritual”; and so on. Getting stuck with a label is profoundly limiting and quickly we perform to type and are what we are expected to be. The second aspect of the magic is that by seeing ourselves and others more holistically (by not judging) then we also feel more whole. By feeling more whole, we deepen our connection into ourselves and life itself. This is simply a deeper sense of love for ourselves and the world around us.

 

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