Its Time to Make Compassion Cool!

Its Time to Make Compassion Cool!

As a 6th grader, I read Farewell to Manzanar, the book about a young girl’s experience being interned in the Japanese internment camps in 1941.  I also read the Diary of Anne Frank, and then Roots (because mom wouldn’t let me watch it on TV).  Then in college, I took a class on the holocaust.

As an empath, I felt the pain of those who suffered during such awful times in history.  But I wasn’t interested in being depressed.  I was looking for answers.   Why were so many people willing to tolerate so much cruelty?  Why did so many people just look the other way?

Similarly, throughout my lifetime, I’ve become increasingly disturbed by our acceptance of cruelty.

TV shows like “Breaking Bad” and “The Game of Thrones” would have caused an outrage in the 1970’s, and now they are celebrated for their brilliance.

Men are pressured to be tough and “man up”, and this mindset can sanction violence and cruelty towards women and others.   Meanwhile, there’s the unfortunate, yet untrue, popular phrase:  “nice guys finish last”.

A growing number of policies to support the middle class have been taken away in the last 40 yrs.  Poverty is on the rise, and prisons are overflowing.  Gun violence is an epidemic, and species are disappearing at an alarming rate!

So much of this is happening because we’ve allowed a lack of compassion and indifference to the suffering of others to be an integral part of our culture.   This problem becomes further magnified when we allow people incapable of compassion to take leadership positions.   At the root of this tendency to dissociate, is not understanding that we are a part of a collective humanity.  Whether we are the victim of violence, perpetuating it, or watching it, it hardens our hearts.  When violence and cruelty become socially acceptable, and we turn away from it, we allow it to thrive!

Too many of us have been dismissing the cruelty and lack of compassion at our own peril.   Many of us fear we are on a path of self-annihilation if we don’t figure out how to turn things around soon!

But there is one thing, one simple thing, that can turn everything around!

We have a social obligation to be compassionate!
It’s the awareness that for the future of our humanity and our planet, we have a social obligation to be compassionate!
 And this is especially true for our leaders, whether they are in politics or business!  We should accept nothing less!

So how do we do this?

We make compassion cool!

We can do that?  Yes!

But first we need to give you a couple of definitions.   Let’s start with defining empathy:

Empathy is viscerally feeling what another feels.

In addition, with compassion, not only are you feeling the pain of others, but you do your best to alleviate the person’s suffering from that situation.

The Latin roots of compassion mean “to suffer with.” When you’re practicing compassion, you’re not running away or feeling overwhelmed by suffering. You holding a mindful presence, and that is transformative!

Compassion can be directed towards yourself “self-compassion”, or towards others.

And we must do both.  Jack Kornfield says, “If your compassion doesn’t include yourself, it is incomplete.”

If your compassion doesn't include yourself, it is incomplete.When times are tough, if you have a tendency to get into a negative spiral, be sure to treat yourself as you would your own best friend.

And why is it so important to do?

Research shows self -compassion:

With self-compassion, you realize there is no need to beat yourself up when trying something new.   Thus, you can focus on experimenting, until you figure out how to achieve your goals.

We thrive in positive environments, and languish in punishing environments.  With self-compassion, we change our internal environment to maximize our ability to thrive.

Many of us tend to beat ourselves up when we’ve been rejected or treated unfairly.  Self-compassion helps us acknowledge and release the pain, so that we can move on.

With all its other benefits, optimism is to be expected!

Self-compassion takes us out of our typical thought patterns and helps us be present with our emotions. Getting out of our busy-brain thinking, and being open and present to sensations in our hearts and bodies, fosters a beginner’s mind and greater curiosity.  This leads to greater wisdom.

Its easier to be kind when we are kind to ourselves!   And it’s easier to be extraverted when we are happy!

Including depression, anxiety and stress.

And what about the benefits of spreading that compassion around?

Be sure to return for my upcoming video where I talk about the personal and global benefits of creating a culture of compassion.  And importantly, how we can do this!

But since so many of us struggle with self-compassion, I’d like to pause to give you some time to practice it.   If you’d like some support, join Linette Bixby with Mindful Paths LLC, in the video below for a quick self-compassion exercise.

 

Do you struggle with self-compassion?  If you live in the Seattle area, consider taking her Linette’s class here.

Are you ready to see a more compassionate world?  Then use the social media buttons below to share this article!  Stay tuned for my next article where I reveal how we can create a worldwide culture of compassion!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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