CONNECTING THROUGH COMPASSION
Nurturing our connections is always important, but right now current events and personal challenges have made this even more critical. Isolation and polarized views are challenging our connection to compassion for both ourself and others. Our differences don’t need to divide us if we’re willing to build bridges. Brene Brown writes in her book Braving the Wilderness, “People are hard to hate close up. Move in.” Moving in is building a bridge.
We all have people in our lives who see the world through a different lens than we do, or have opposing views. If we’re willing to stop labeling others as good or bad, right or wrong, and instead allow for differences, we can meet in the middle with out stretched hands instead of clenched fists. Compassion doesn’t mean people can get away with hurting others, but it does separate the behavior from the person. When we connect through a compassionate bridge, we acknowledge we are all part of the human family.
The following quote is by Pema Chodron, “Compassion is not a relationship between the healer and wounded. It’s a relationship between equals. Only when we know our darkness well, can we be present with the darkness of others. Compassion becomes real when we recognize our shared humanity.”
To move in and build bridges of compassion, we first need to start by being compassionate to ourselves. We acknowledge our successes, forgive our mistakes, and focus on our strengths, instead of giving ourselves a diet of criticism. We acknowledge the places where we’re wounded, and promote our own healing. Prioritizing self-compassion means we address our needs when they’re small, so they don’t become overwhelming. It helps to breathe deeply, slow down, make decisions mindfully, and get plenty of sleep. And let’s acknowledge our small successes throughout the day. When we’re patient and kind to ourselves, we’ll radiate a positive, inclusive energy.
We move in by the way we communicate both verbally and nonverbally. Let’s remember that words are powerful, and we need to choose them carefully so we express compassion, not judgement. People have a variety of views and values that have been affected by their environment, early parenting, and life experiences. There are many reasons why we are the way we are. When we bring a loving attitude to the present moment, our words become supportive and encouraging, so we can move in and connect.
Showing compassion nonverbally starts when we turn our phone to airplane mode, so the person we’re with has our complete attention. Giving our true presence is a powerful gift. To do that we turn toward the speaker, give them eye contact, and quietly listen. It can be incredibly healing when both tears and laughter are shared. These are small acts that build strong bridges.
Another way to move in is through showing kindness. Wherever we are, whatever we’re doing, being kind is contagious, so one act begins the ripple effect. We are truly practicing kindness when we do kind acts without expecting anything in return. An unexpected kindness can comfort and encourage someone having a hard day. It’s the compassionate connection with a kind presence that lifts the spirits of everyone involved.
Respecting a person’s privacy is another way to move in. Whenever something intimate is shared, it needs to stay between the people involved. Compassion does not gossip. And when someone isn’t ready to talk about the hard stuff, we can affirm our support by simply being a caring presence.
Remembering our common humanity is connecting through compassion in a powerful way. What we choose to focus on affects our perspective. When we encourage each other in healthy self-care, thoughtful communication, kindness, and respect, we bridge our differences and nurture each other. Let’s remember we’re all part of the human family and need each other right now.
Until Next Time – Sylvia