A glimpse into the conscious expansion; Journal reflections & prompts for YOU!
How to cultivate compassionRead Now
Compassion is a mixed emotion. There are layers of pity, sympathy, empathy, and concern. Compassion is worry faced with courage and put into action, creating a quality, and becoming a sentiment you extend to another.
As with any action or new skill, compassion is a practice. One needs to become aware of what situations in life require them to extend the action of compassion to another person. Awareness towards what situations require compassion comes from experiences which moved an emotion in you.
The emotion the experience moves in you is usually not a comfortable one.
You may think of times of when a little child cries because they hurt themselves and you pick them up to hug them, whispering phrases such as "It's OK/ I got you/ Let me help you/ Let me kiss it better/ Are you OK?/ Let's go get a bandaid/ You are so brave/ It's OK to cry/ etc"
The phrases one could say to a hurt child when compassion is required are endless. They typically float gently out of the human mouth like colourful bubbles of comfort. Easy to say, and easy to feel, or at least imagine feeling.
What about more complicated situations? What about when you're having a bad day, when you're less than your best? What does that kind of compassion look like? How to we act when we are giving compassion as an adult to an adult, or an adult to ourselves?
These questions may be harder to answer, the images harder to imagine, excuses may be popping into your head, sounding something like " I don't have time for myself ", and "some people really piss me off, and I don't have to be kind to everyone", a familiar and uncomfortable feeling sneaks into your heart. Perhaps it's because we are all familiar with how it might feel to be treated less than we feel we deserve. When we extend negativity to others it may feel like a release briefly but in the long term it eats at us, and attracts more of the same negative experiences.
For these complicated moments, whenever you can pause to reflect on why someone is bringing up negative feelings in you, the answer is commonly is from a past memory your subconsciousness is remembering. The only way the subconscious remembers is by giving you a "feeling" whether you felt the experience was positive; For example, hearing an old family tune you played around the campfire when you were happy eating 'smores', would bring wholesome feelings of nostalgia. If during that same camping trip you were hurt, or felt afraid at any point the memory could cause a feeling of anger or fear in you.
This is tricky because you may not remember the memory at all, you just know you don't like how you're feeling now and that causes us to react negatively. With a brief pause, try to even hold your breath for a moment (one can't talk if one is holding their breath for a moment, and it forces the body into breathing deeper even for ONE breath. This moment can make a huge difference of perspective.) This moment you give yourself is compassion.
The pause brings you peace because you are taking care of your own needs and feelings, and then the feelings lead to a better reaction where you can react more compassionately to others in any situation. You may use the common phrases we so easily say to children who are hurt, they can work for adults too: "You are so brave/ Do you want a hug/ What do you need to feel better" are all compassionate words, leading to compassionate action.
You will start to notice, situations become more positive, and you feel more connected and understanding of the world and people around you.
Your feelings, and the feelings of others are always improved with compassion.
- Sarah Helten