A lot of us have an estranged relationship with compassion. We didn’t get enough of it at some point, so it’s hard for us to identify it now. We don’t trust it when we think we see it and have a hard time giving it to others and especially to ourselves. If we’re sick or sad or struggling, we expect ourselves to suck it up and keep going. We experience this strange and uncomfortable mix of feeling like it’s not our place to hold a boundary and resentment at someone when they inevitably cross a boundary we wish we would have set. We’re kind of all over the place.
Compassion is often misinterpreted. It’s mistaken for weakness, letting things slide, not speaking up, and enabling. For many reasons, it’s conflated with lack of self-assertion. It’s basically the misunderstood family member we all have. At its strong little core, compassion has nothing to do with the stigma we’ve attached to it and everything to do with strength, accountability, and resilience.
When we practice compassion, we make room for the complex nature of our humanity. We allow something or someone just to be, without judgment, aggression, or value placement. We make it safe to see what is happening and what needs to change. It is the strongest, most sustainable tool for accountability.
We practice compassion when we respectfully assert ourselves. We compassion when we set and maintain a limit with someone, when we speak honestly about an experience we’re having and when we say “no.”
Compassion is an integral part of my work. When we cultivate compassion, we empower ourselves to get unstuck, to hold ourselves and others accountable, to stop living as though life “is just happening to us.” When we cultivate compassion, we cultivate our tenacity.