(Try the paired excercise below)
Difficulty does not always appear when we attempt to treat others compassionately in ideal or easy situations. Difficulty often appears when considering how to treat others compassionately in life's difficult situations. How do we maintain the balance and boundaries of having both self care, and love for others?
Kindness and satiety are separate practices. Kindness is not about what is ideal for the giver or receiver, kindness and compassion also include what is necessary. In striving for compassion, it is easy to mistake the giving of what is desired for compassionate action. It is not compassionate to enable someone, as this enabling allows a cycle of hurt to continue within that person, and effect those they encounter.
Since there truly are no others, we must give not only what we would want to be given, but what we would NEED to be given in a situation. This includes saying "No", boundary setting, and even a gentle (yet firm) reality check. It includes disagreeing, and holding our ground.
Kindness and compassion often means giving and acting in ways that are necessary and beneficial for all involved. I have a saying,
"Compassion is a two way street."
All available energy cannot leave us through compassion, we must keep enough for our health and to sustain ourselves. It is not dependent on receiving, yet it is interdependent on the needs of many, and it is often not based upon the needs of just one (Even when giving compassionately to ourselves, it takes two! Both one to give and one to receive, and often the two will disagree!).
Not everyone will challenge our compassion in such a way, but those who create toxicity or act in self serving ways will require compassion that balances our compassion for them with that for ourselves, and others involved.
What a gift it is to give and act compassionately in the world, and if carried out with balance compassionate living will create and restore balance.
[What if you were the unconscious person, the harmful person, the draining person? With your deep empathy, step into their shoes. Imagine, not just what you would want to hear or receive, but what you would NEED to grow both self-sufficient and self-aware. Without judging yourself as this person, what has always been given that enabled you, and thus harmed you? What has never been given to you, even those challenging things, that may help you to heal your relationships with yourself and others over time?]
Now, step back into your own shoes. How does this information help your personal compassion to be balanced and more effective when dealing with this person or situation again? Did you see any pieces of their life story? Did your understanding and empathy for them as a person grow deeper? Did you gain any insights into your own life (and relationships with others) that can add balance to them?]
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