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Tycoonism “If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.”

August 7, 2009

What is compassion? Compassion is the ability to listen deeply and show sympathy and understanding to your partner. Couples who practice compassion and kindness continuously feed love and send each other vital messages of caring. You would think that it’s easy for couples to shower each other with compassion, but this isn’t always the case. So often couples begin to take one another for granted and stop behaving in ways that demonstrate unsolicited kindness. As one husband recently said, “With all the stress I’m under, I don’t have the luxury of always being compassionate…” The assumption that you need heaps of time or that you need to be in the “right place” in your life in order to show compassion to others is not only incorrect, it’s a dangerous assumption. Make compassion a necessity in your relationship, not a luxury. Weave it into the small acts of your daily life and you won’t even need to create extra time for it.

I think we can agree that compassion, as we generally define it, is a desirable quality. It speaks to kindness, acceptance and understanding, tolerance, and grace. In Religious Science we might go so far as to refer to qualities like this as qualities of God. When, then, does something as good and as noble as compassion cross a line into being unhealthy? When do we begin to dis-empower someone by over-protecting, or rescuing, or fixing?

That may well be the point of demarcation to be aware of, the question to ask ourselves; Am I empowering someone, or dis-empowering them?To empower is “to promote the self-actualization of”. This is ultimately what the mid to long-term goal of compassion is, or should be.

There is a pathology that has arisen in our culture in the last couple of decades, and that pathology is; I have drama, therefore I am. The news if full of it, soap operas and other television and media provide a steady diet of it, tabloids make a fortune at it. It has almost become desirable to be in drama of one kind or another. It can even feel like a drama competition; my drama is bigger than your drama.

As that pathology has emerged and matured, there has been another, sympathetic pathology that has followed it up the scale of awareness, and that one is; I rescue people in drama, therefore I am.

We seem to have forgotten, somewhere along the way, that we learn and conquer our fears by experience. Emerson reminds us, “Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. What if they are a little coarse, and you may get your coat soiled or torn? What if you do fail, and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice. Up again, you shall never be so afraid of a tumble.”

One thing that happens with this emerging pathology is that we overlay our squeamishness onto someone else, cleverly disguised as compassion. Based on how we see the world, or a situation, or a challenge, we impose those perceptions onto someone else’s life. The inner dialogue is, “I think this is a bad thing that is happening to you, it is causing me pain to watch you walk through it, therefore I am going to step in and short circuit your process.”

We have become afraid, somewhere along the way, to fail and get fairly rolled in the dirt once or twice, and we deal with that fear by rescuing someone else.

How then do we practice compassion and still maintain a healthy relationship? We do so by walking through another person’s version of hell with them, and not judging their situation as good or bad, or right or wrong. We refrain from overlaying our own fears onto another.

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