Compassion is the ability to understand the suffering of others and the desire to lessen it. The concept of compassion is both simpler and more intense than showing empathy. For it encourages us to help put an end to the suffering of others.
Showing ourselves compassion, on the other hand, encourages a loving attitude toward ourselves, especially when things are not going as planned. Learning how to develop this compassion will help us become happier and more satisfied with our daily lives. As long as we do not abuse it or revel in self-pity of course.
Psychologist and researcher Paul Gilbert has created a form of therapy that focuses on compassion. He points out that this kind of pity is not the same as feeling sorry for others. Rather, it is a motivation that gives us energy to help others in a way that allows them to alleviate their own suffering with our help.
Components of pity
The word pity means “suffering together” or “dealing with feelings of sympathy”. It is the feeling we get when we notice the suffering of others, and it triggers the impulsive desire to reduce it. The feeling is divided into different components:
- A cognitive component that includes the awareness and evaluation of the suffering of others, as well as the recognition of our own ability to act when confronted with it.
- A behavioral component that includes being able to compromise for all parties involved and the firm decision to take actions that help put an end to suffering.
- An emotional component that motivates us to act on our gut feelings evokes emotional reactions that give us a sense of personal satisfaction. The extent to which we experience psychological well-being depends in part on the type of relationship we form with others.
Compassion opens our hearts
This feeling helps us to connect to our heart and put ourselves in the situation of others. It opens a door to our emotions and gives us the opportunity to feel that we are experiencing what others around us are exposed to. We feel what hurts them and what makes them suffer.
Compassion helps us not only see our own feet, but begin to see what is happening around us. It reminds us that we are not alone in this world, that others are important too. In addition, if the help it brings is sincere, it will give us a tremendous sense of inner peace.
Showing compassion brings us closer to others and gives us the opportunity to show the best of ourselves so that we can humbly and with closeness help others. Every time we take care of others who need it, our heart grows and at the same time we offer the other unreserved help.
The fear of showing pity
Why do we not take advantage of the fact that we can show compassion to others when we have so many opportunities to do so? We do not give ourselves the opportunity to show compassion because our focus is not in the right place. Social neuroscience has shown us that our natural instinct is to help. We are ready to offer the help as soon as someone asks for it. But how can it be that we sometimes do not help?
The feeling of pity can make us afraid to act for various reasons. Here are some examples:
- We are afraid that if we help others alleviate their suffering, it will put us in a vulnerable situation where others may reject us.
- Seeing other people’s suffering makes us feel sad. It’s a feeling we may not want to feel.
- Compassion can help us open up to unresolved childhood wounds that prevent us from feeling connected to the suffering of others.
- We are concerned that we will not be able to forget the suffering of others once we have felt connected to it.
- We would rather focus our attention on other things that we think are “more important”.
“The basic human problem is lack of compassion. All the while this problem persists, other problems will continue. If it is resolved, we can expect happier days. ”
To show compassion for ourselves; the ability to accept ourselves as we are
We can show compassion for ourselves by understanding our inner sufferings; to be able to understand the meaning of it, and give ourselves the opportunity to accept it and treat ourselves with love. It is a way of cultivating loving behavior toward ourselves. Especially when things do not go as planned.
“Be yourself the change you want to see in the world.”
Compassion encourages us to take a look at our society, as a force for change that brings the inner to the outer. Instead of filling ourselves with self-criticism and condemnation, the compassion we show for ourselves will allow us to be humane and develop a caring adult within us who cares for us and protects us each day. Instead of keeping our distance from humanity, compassion brings us together.
4 steps that develop compassion
If we see the suffering of others as an exercise in exercising compassion, it is necessary to practice the way we perceive suffering. All we need to do is notice and realize that we are not alone. There are always others who need help. We need not just look away. This can contribute to the fact that when we come in contact with suffering, we can feel overwhelmed by our emotions. This is our second task: to learn how to deal with the emotions that develop in us when we act with compassion.
Understand the disorder
Understanding one’s own and others’ suffering is the first step toward feeling compassion. To be able to do this we need to open our hearts up so that we can get in touch with our emotions. For example, if we are on the street and we see someone suffering, we should stop for a moment and try to fully understand their suffering, instead of just walking by as if it is not our problem.
Assess the suffering of others
It is important to practice this skill without judging. For otherwise we will not feel pity. Nor will it occur if we have not completed the previous steps of understanding suffering. For example, if we think a person deserves their suffering, then it may be that the feeling of pity does not arise.
Feel the feeling fully
Opening ourselves up to emotions allows us to feel the emotion fully, and all the emotions that come with it. Although it may be the reason we experience suffering and discomfort. If we allow ourselves to be led away by the feeling of pity, we will be able to reach a deep sense of kindness.
For example, if we see something in the news that affects us, then we should allow ourselves to cry and not block those emotions. In this way, we will feel free to feel pity.
When we can understand, assess and feel the suffering of others without censoring ourselves, then we can act. We should not just keep this feeling inside ourselves. For example, try to work on reducing the suffering of a friend or family member. Give them the emotional support they really need.
The positive consequences of pity
There are many positive consequences for society and for ourselves when we can show compassion. For the Dalai Lama, the power of compassion has the ability to:
- Encourage a form of education that focuses on empathy, ethics and personal development.
- Create new economic systems that are fairer to society.
- Realize that we are a perfect human species, where one should not divide into them / us or superior / inferior.
- Develop dialogue and communication instead of violence.
- Reduce social inequality by allowing more transparency in all areas.
- End cultural differences, along with prejudice and corruption.
If we include pity in our lives, we will notice marked changes. We can try to imagine that someone we care about a lot suffers, and see what effect it creates in our body. Then send this person kind and compassionate feelings. Then feel how you feel different. So try to send emotions to someone who does not like you so much. Then feel how you feel.
Mindfulness and mindfulness help us develop this compassion that we can pass on to others. If we want to develop compassion, we will have to create space mentally, as if it were our private consulting office. Here we can understand the suffering of others, and do something about it. This is how it all begins. We each do our part to build a more just and rewarding world.
If society is to change, it begins with us treating each other better, including ourselves. We must exercise empathy and compassion for one another. There are no excuses for not starting today. The sooner you begin to feel pity, the greater joy and well-being you will be able to feel in your life on a daily basis.