As we've covered in previous months, it is easier to be compassionate towards friends and family. For me, the real test is when I encounter a situation or person that challenges me and whether I practice compassion or start to judge in that moment. If what I say sounds polite, yet my thoughts remain judgmental, I am not being compassionate. I am just saying nice words but I may not actually mean it deep down. When I am judging, I am excluding this person from my life.
I’m not sure about you, but I find these situations very difficult sometimes, especially if I find someone disrespectful. Sometimes it is best to walk away or distance myself, however, in my inner world, I still aim to hold that space of compassion. Often I find myself wondering what happened to this person in order for them to behave this way. Although I remove myself from the situation, I feel I did not exclude them from my space. For me I feel there is a difference between discernment and judgment.
The most common feeling that arises in me, when I encounter these circumstances is sadness. I know a woman, who has challenged me a lot, although I rarely have much to do with her anymore. She is extended family and over the years I have swung between judgment to compassion many times. The most difficult moments are the one's where she's behaving disrespectfully and unconsciously. In those moments I am tested the hardest. More often than not I struggled with holding a space of compassion because of her behaviour. At the same time I knew that because of her story, immense pain sat deep inside of her.
Both my parents are enablers and I learnt exceptionally well, to also be an enabler. This has changed quite a bit over the last several years, although that tendency still arises sometimes. To enable her, would not be helpful to her or anyone else, and it took some time to understand this. To bite back, be nasty, judge and exclude her would not be helpful to anyone either. To try to rescue (which is another tendency), would also be futile.
I understood that everyone comes into one’s life for a reason. I knew that she was one of my teachers and I acknowledged her (energetically) for this. She was teaching me something. Talking to her was not really an option because of how severe the childhood trauma was and how it has affected her over the years.
I also knew inside myself that disrespectful behaviour is not ok with me and if it felt ‘right' in the moment, I might address it in the most loving, compassionate way possible. I find addressing it particularly uncomfortable in most cases because it isn't ‘easy’. In addition to this, I feel it necessary to acknowledge that the person has a story (silently to myself), and know that their behaviour is not about me.
This can also be part of the challenge. Sometimes it does feel very personal and I find myself wondering if I have done something to offend a person.
The woman whom I just mentioned has indeed been one of my ‘teachers’. She has taught me many things, the main quality has been self-respect and to be honest with myself. It would be fair to say that increasingly so over the years, she has become more on the peripheral of my life, yet when I do think of her, she reminds me to continue respecting myself by seeking guidance and counsel. If there was anything I would say to her, it would be this. If I can be responsible for my own life story and conditions that have stemmed from this, then this is one of the most self-loving things to do. It not only supports my own wellbeing, it also acts as a ripple to all those connected to me. My interactions will change, because I am changing inside myself. If I refuse to get any help, I feel like I am denying myself and others growth.
Because of the aforementioned tendencies to enable and to identify with the behaviour, this can end up being a trap. The extended family member is not making me feel a certain way, if anything she has triggered feelings. So I thank her for it.
When I feel like I am being pulled into a situation that I find difficult, what does help is to remind myself of the other person's suffering. This creates an energetic distance and healthy detachment.
Personally, I feel that building a relationship with some people is just not possible and for self preservation, I disengage and move on. This is life and I feel that sometimes this is necessary.
Inner dialogue is important however. Depending on the circumstances, it may take time, but I aim to enter into an inner space of compassion for the other person so I am not making them wrong. They have a story, and although I may discern to not be a part of it, (this can also be a form of compassion), I can still be compassionate in other ways.
If I know I will be entering a situation with a person who challenges me, I can prepare myself. So I do the best I can at holding that loving kindness space and know that their behaviour is not about me. If I get triggered or start to identify with something that they say or do, then this is the perfect moment to learn something about myself or the situation. As difficult as it may feel, I say psychically; “Thank you for showing me this!“ Sometimes I’ll even say it aloud ...with interesting responses!
I feel that cultivating compassion in one’s life is a journey, like most things. It may not be easy sometimes, yet I feel it is a natural instinct for most people. I also feel that one of the crucial keys is self-compassion. I also reach out to a trusted friend for perspective because they may see something I am unable to in that moment to bring me back to compassion and honesty. Ultimately, everyone is doing the best they can and I feel that finding a depth of compassion within one's self is a process and part of the journey of being human.
Written by Laura Naomi
© Laura Naomi 2018
Blogs are inspired by transformation of the human spirit, by love, wellness and the journey of the soul. The writing is to inspire and raise awareness.