Compassion

The Collective Journey’s second guiding principle of mentorship is compassion.

“To feel compassion for others, first we develop compassion for ourselves through our thoughts, words, and actions.”

compassion
/kəmˈpaʃ(ə)n/
Noun

The feeling that arises when you are confronted with another’s suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.

 

Compassion for self is responding to our needs in a way we would for loved and respected friends or family.  Rather than ignoring our needs or feelings and pushing through, we pause, reflect (how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?), and respond.

Kristin Neff, Associate Professor of Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas, defines three elements of self compassion:

1. Self kindness vs self judgment

With self compassion, we are warm and understanding when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate, rather than ignorant of our pain or harmful with self criticism.  We recognise that failing and experiencing difficulties in life is inevitable, so we tend to be gentle with ourselves rather than angry when life falls short of expectations.  We cannot always be or get exactly what we want.  When this reality is denied or fought against, suffering increases with stress, frustration and self criticism.  When we have compassion for self, we accept this reality with empathy and kindness.

2. Common humanity vs isolation

When we become frustrated with reality, we often feel an irrational but pervasive sense of isolation; as if we are the only one suffering or making mistakes.  All humans suffer.  Self compassion involves recognising that suffering and personal inadequacy is part of the shared human experience.

3. Mindfulness vs over identification

Self compassion also requires a balanced approach to our negative emotions so that feelings are neither suppressed or exaggerated.  It means being willing to observe our negative thoughts and emotions with openness and clarity, so that they are held mindfully without judgement.  It is what it is, no need to suppress or deny.  We cannot ignore our pain and feel compassion for it at the same time.

How can we practice compassion for others?

Creating conscious connections for mentors, to see the world through the eyes of those they live or work with, can bring compassion to challenging relationships, and some of the greatest self reflection we’ll experience.

Receiving mentoring, through meaningful connections and with compassion, can build inner strength and resilience, and most importantly, bring light to an otherwise dark day.

Our global partner, Charter for Compassion International, is committed to making the world a more compassionate place.  They work to establish and sustain cultures of compassion locally and globally through diverse sectors; arts, business, education, the environment, healthcare, interfaith communities, peace, restorative justice, science and research, social justice, social services, science and research, and women and girls.

They supply resources, information and communication platforms to help create and support compassionate communities, institutions, and networks of all types that are dedicated to becoming compassionate presences in the world.

The Charter for Compassion International believes that a compassionate world is a peaceful world.  They believe that a compassionate world is possible when every man, woman and child treats others as they wish to be treated; with dignity, equity and respect.  They believe that all human beings are born with the capacity for compassion, and that it must be cultivated for human beings to survive and thrive.

How will you live with more compassion today?

Melissa Shadforth