Saturday, January 26, 2013

Practicing Compassion.

Compassion. It's something I've been working very hard on this week.

Out of nowhere, I had a falling-out with a new friend. I have never been good with conflict. Any possibility of someone being upset or angry with me, has always made my heart start racing and my brain start figuring out how to make everything better. I spend too much time thinking about the situation, I talk about it too much with people (in an effort, I think, to make myself feel better), and I refuse to let the issue die until I feel like it's gotten all worked out.

But is that really the best way to deal with conflict? I don't think so.

I don't want to teach my kids to second-guess themselves, to be afraid of people not liking them, or to think and worry about things that have already happened, or things that might never happen in the future. And the way to do that, I think, might be to teach them compassion.

When you have a conflict with a friend, a spouse, a child, or anyone, really, it doesn't matter who did what. It doesn't matter whose "fault" it was. The fact is, you are human. They are human. And we're all trying to figure out how to live the best life.

Have compassion on yourself.

You are going to make mistakes. You are going to hurt others. You are going to disappoint and anger. Does this make you a bad person? No. Does this make you a human being, just like everyone else? Certainly.

Have compassion on the other(s).

Regardless of whether you intentionally, unintentionally, or truly did anything wrong, another person is suffering because of you. It might be because you DID hurt them, or it might be because they THINK you did. Either way, they are suffering.

Have compassion on them. No amount of suffering feels good. Apologize to them. Apologize for hurting them. Apologize for hurting them when you didn't even realize you were.

Funny enough, I've been reading "A Return to Love" by Marianne Williamson. And this week, a passage on page 103 was particularly relevant to me.

"Let's say someone has wronged you. You can't change other people, and you can't ask God to change them, either. You can, however, ask to see this situation differently. You can ask for peace. You can ask to have your perceptions changed. The miracle is that, as you release judgement of other people, the pain in your gut begins to subside. The ego might say in that situation that you'll never be at peace until the wrong-doer has changed. But peace isn't determined by circumstances outside us. Peace stems from forgiveness. Pain doesn't stem from the love we're denied by others, but rather from the love that we deny them. In a case like that, it feels as though we're hurt by what someone else did. But what really has occurred is that someone else's closed heart has tempted us to close our own, and it is our own denial of love that hurts us. That's why the miracle is a shift in our own thinking: the willingness to keep our own heart open, regardless of what's going on outside us."

For most of my life, my response to someone else's anger at me, has resulted in anger directed back at them. But anger does nothing for the soul. Anger doesn't help anyone heal faster. Keep your heart open.

Trust that things are exactly as they should be.

Choosing love and compassion over anger isn't easy. It doesn't mean that it will "fix" the situation either. In my particular case this week, it also meant releasing my expectations of what should happen. I couldn't change my friend's perception of me. I couldn't get rid of her anger. I couldn't prevent her from saying hurtful things about me in return. I couldn't protect myself from feeling sad and disappointed with the way things turned out.

But maybe that's exactly the way the universe wants it to be.

I firmly believe that there is an order to the universe. And I also believe that every situation - good and bad - is a teaching moment. My friend is on the path that she needs to be on, and her anger towards me is a part of that. On my side of things, this has been a wonderful opportunity to practice more love. And to continue to learn to "let go" when there is nothing left for me to take responsibility for.

There is a wonderful peace that comes from accepting the reality of the moment, instead of fighting to make it what you'd prefer it to be.

So, that has been my focus this week. Compassion and love. And hopefully, as I continue to practice, my children will learn it as well. I can't protect them from difficult situations, but I can give them tools to use when navigating through them. And really, if I can give my children those tools, I'm giving them to the world as well. 

1 comment:

  1. I've always told my girls that their reaction and actions to a situation are always more important than the actual conflict, and it is the only thing they can control in the situation. And it is more than 'not stooping to their level'; it is more of looking at these obstacles and challenges as something you need for personal growth :) Yah for you! .