What is true compassion? Is it comforting and uplifting the other when he is sad? Is it looking for solutions to help the other person out of misery? Is it creating mitigating circumstances to lessen the pain? Or is it being curious with genuine interest about what the other is going through? Do not propose solutions, but ask questions. What exactly do you experience? How’s that for you? What’s going through your mind?
Compassion: another word for compassion
I think every reader feels that true compassion lies in that open curiosity. The loving attention to what is. Be there with the other one. Another word for compassion is compassion. Compassion. co-feeling. Not away from feeling, by comforting, uplifting, offering solutions that bring change, but simply letting the other share in the pain that is there. And be with it.
Yet, most of us tend to fall into the ‘helper’ role. Apparently, we find it hard to bear to see the other person in pain or misery. So that pain must be reduced as soon as possible. Not only for the other person but unconsciously also for ourselves. And if we can be of significance in that, it also gives us a good feeling. But has that really helped the other person?
It’s nice to have comfort and distraction.
But you also want to be
attuned to your feelings first.
Alignment with your feelings
Just imagine. You feel bad and sad. Then it is certainly nice when people offer help and think of you. And it is also nice when there is comfort and distraction. But you also want to be attuned to your feelings first. If it is cycled over too quickly and the helper is more concerned with his own help plan than where you are, it becomes difficult to really receive that help. Then there is little relief and deep down you feel even more lonely in your misery.
We find emotions difficult. Sickness and pain too. I noticed it with my Lyme. People preferred to suggest solutions—therapists I should visit, how to detox even better, what to eat and what not to eat, what sports to do—than to be genuinely curious about what was going on inside me. The question ‘How are you? Was asked often enough, and that was definitely nice, but ‘how does it feel? How are you? How do you deal with it?’ I sometimes missed that interest. There is no judgment on that. I see myself doing it often enough. Too fast in the analysis. Saying wise words too soon to soften things up. And I am still a questioner by profession.
We are used to doing nothing. To just be quiet, to listen to what needs to be shared, and to ask inviting questions. Perhaps because we then come too close to that other person’s pain. Unconsciously, this makes us uncomfortable. Pain is not nice. Huge pain, certainly not hopeless pain. It is better to be busy doing than busy with compassion.
We do not always realize how lonely the path
of that one who suffers is.
The desire for real contact
Helping is really well-intentioned, but we don’t always realize how lonely the road is for someone who is suffering. Whether you are suffering from physical pain, emotional pain, loss, or depression. It’s inside you, you’re the one who has to carry it. Either way, that’s a road you have to walk alone. But how nice is it when someone can walk next to you who is actually there for a while? Who is not immediately busy with how things should continue, but who shows real interest in how things are now. And be quiet with you in that. Can you feel it? What a difference that can be?
First be, then do. First, listen and empathize. Ask first, then think along. Let’s practice that. Practice tuning in and taking time to connect with where the other is. And that is also a nice exercise if someone is not suffering visibly. We can get so much closer than we are now. And I think we all long for it. To that essential contact, in which I see you and you feel me and I where you are and you where I am and that we can enjoy it in silence, without there having to be anything other than there is now.