Tag Archives: Compassion

AWAKENING TO ACT WITH COMPASSION

THIS POST APPEARS ON BARBARA FRANKEN’S BLOG SITE, ME MY MAGNIFICENT SELF.  PLEASE VISIT THE SITE TO READ MY POST AND CONNECT WITH HER WONDERFUL BLOG.  MAY YOU ALL FIND COMPASSION IN YOURSELVES AND OTHERS.

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AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity can’t survive.” Dalai Lama 

Photo by superhua

Photo by superhua

Do you have compassion for those who are suffering in the world or only for the people you personally know?  Do you have compassion for yourself? 

Only Fear Separates Us From Others

We are living in a world deeply troubled by fear and separation, so how do we live with that day by day?  It is so easy to believe that our thoughts and actions have no consequence, but they do.

We are all energy—our actions, words, and thoughts are energy that we put out into the world.  If what we offer is loving and compassionate, that energy will help heal those who live in fear.  After all, fear is the only thing that separates us.

Differences Can Teach Us What We Need To Learn

I am very grateful that, in my life, I have lived in unique environments where I was always rather different from those who were born and raised there.  Because of this, I’ve learned to look beyond what is different in others to see what it is we have in common.  Even the differences have been valuable because they taught me new things about life and made me stretch and learn to adjust to a new environment.

I was fortunate to travel to West Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant in the 1990s.  I was living in New Orleans, a place where the culture was deeply influenced by West African culture.  I saw the roots of its music, food, and the commonality of emphasis on family and community.

As for living in New Orleans itself, I learned to let go, have fun, and take life less seriously.  Those were lessons I needed to learn at that point in life.  The rest of my immediate family lived there, and it was a joy to be close to family after years of living far away.

During the time I lived in Nebraska, I learned that at a distance the landscape looked bare to a mountain-loving person like me, but in reality, there was a much more subtle beauty to that land.  You just had to pay more attention to see it.  The same was true of the people who tended to be not very emotionally expressive.

Photo by Wicker Paradise

Photo by Wicker Paradise

We Need To Look Beyond Political and Cultural Differences

I’ve also lived in New Mexico where the art and Native-American relationship to the land touched me deeply.  And I’ve lived in Washington, DC and its political climate.  But in each case, I learned something new that helped me understand that we are all different and yet all alike.  Our humanity binds us together despite the cultural or political differences, and it is our humanity that matters.

Compassion Heals Us

The Dalai Lama reminds us that we will not survive without love and compassion.  When we love our neighbor, we care about him or her.  We are concerned for his struggles.   The definition of compassion that I like the most is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”  So compassion is not just about our feelings, it is also about what we do.

When we express compassion, we help others to heal by sharing our love with them.  We can bridge gaps caused by religious or political differences by focusing on our human needs.  By expressing this aspect of our humanity, we are saying we are all One, and that is what matters the most.  Healing ourselves and our society can only happen when we put aside the fears that separate us.

Fear Separates Us

On the national and international level, it seems that all the focus is on what separates us, and at the source of that is one thing—fear.   A spiritual teacher of mine also mentioned in the 1980s that unless we learn to release our fears, we will destroy ourselves.  But she also said that 1986 was a turning point when 6% of the population reached an awareness level that would allow us to heal our lives and survive as a species.

As wars rage, especially in the Middle East, her words are haunting because the need to control others has taken over our ability to relate to those who are different.  We are only concerned with being the person or country that has power over others.  But in most of these wars, a group that has been oppressed is fighting for freedom, and in some instances what they are doing may be the only way a correction can be made at this time.

Loving elephants

We Must Release Our Fears

One of the reasons, I teach workshops on how to release your fear is that releasing our fears is the only way to free us from the confines of insecurity.  It is only when we feel insecure that we need to control others.  When we feel secure within ourselves, it is natural to love and feel compassion and we reach out to others who are in need.  When we express this positive energy, we begin to change our world, person by person.

We may not be able to stop the international wars, but we can stop the wars in our own lives by learning to let go of the fears that create problems.  Letting go of those fears helps free us to love ourselves and others, and when love is in our hearts, we do feel sympathy for others’ difficulties and will choose to reach out to help in any way we can.

By Practicing Compassion, We Become Peacemakers

In this world we have allowed power and fear to control life.  What if we chose love and compassion instead?  We could save not only our own lives, but the world as well.  We have to be the heroes in our own journeys.

Current Release Your Fear Workshops – click Here

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                    ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Small Acts of Compassion Can Save the World, Compassion Can Change the World, You can Change the World – ComPASSion Project (video) 

AWAKENING TO LOVE ALL WE ARE

“The supreme happiness in life is the conviction that we are loved–loved for ourselves, or rather, loved in spite of ourselves.”  Victor Hugo

Denver 018 Do you ever feel that you aren’t loving enough?  Do you feel that you are a failure if you don’t do everything perfectly?  Do you feel that you can’t be loved for who you really are?

We all need to feel we are loved, and that we are loved despite our imperfections, but often we set standards for ourselves and others that only create more stress and problems.  At times we set goals or expectations that are impossible to meet, and when we or our friends don’t meet them, it damages our self-esteem and relationships.

Expecting Perfection Can Be Harmful

We all have ideas about the perfect relationship.  We may even have a list of requirements that a potential partner or friend must have, but inevitably, if these standards are too high, we are setting up ourselves and our partner for failure.  Ultimately what we really want is to be able to make mistakes and still be loved and respected.

Growing up, my parents had high expectations for me.  I was intelligent, so they expected me to make A’s in school, which I often did.  They also taught me to be kind and respectful to others and not to do or say things that would hurt others.  As a Southern woman, my role was to take care of others, make them feel good, and put my needs last.

There was a lot of conflict between my parents so I developed the idea that I needed to do everything perfectly to prevent any further conflict.  When I achieved what they wanted, I was rewarded with praise.  This was before the days when parents bribed their children into doing what they wanted in order to receive toys or electronics.

Setting Standards Of Perfection May Cause Illness

I felt very nervous and fearful much of the time because my parents’ conflict was disturbing to me, and sometimes I was punished for what was a fairly small thing because they were so on edge.  As a result I became a perfectionist well into adulthood.  I experienced a great deal of anxiety around trying to meet high standards in school, relationships, and in work, and with time this stress contributed to my developing Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.

When we expect too much from ourselves or others, we will inevitably be disappointed at some point.  Stress caused by any condition affects our health in a negative way, but I didn’t realize the harm I was creating for myself until I attended a clinic where every health practitioner with whom I spoke told me not to be so hard on myself.  Fortunately, they convinced me my perfectionist thinking was not healthy.

We Need To Accept Ourselves As We Are

At first, I was angry that they wanted me to lower my high standards.  I was proud of having high standards and trying to be a really good person, but I had so little energy, I had no choice but to change.  Having to limit my activity forced me to go deeper and explore why I needed to be so perfect.  The more I explored this idea, the more I realized I thought I wouldn’t be loved or liked if I didn’t meet these expectations.

As I moved from believing things had to be done in a certain way to being more open and flexible, I learned to say “no” to situations that were too stressful or not truly beneficial.  As I stopped expecting perfection from myself, I realized how difficult life could be for others and grew more empathetic.  I learned to expect less from others.  I also learned to accept my imperfections while also trying to change some things for the better without judging every step I took.

Loving Ourselves Helps Us To Love Others

I learned to love who I was—even when I was able to do little of what I wanted to do.  I learned to love myself as I was.  I knew I was doing the best I could everyday despite it being less than I had previously done.  As I recovered from the illness, I came to value well-being so much that it became my priority, not what I achieved in the eyes of the world.

Learning to love ourselves compassionately teaches us how to love others, and what we all want most is to be loved for who we really are.  As I came to love myself more, I was able to love more generously and accept others’ irritating qualities with more compassion.  I learned to love them for who they truly were.

The most wonderful love we can experience is with someone who really knows us and accepts our eccentricities and difficult aspects.  We know that we do not have to be perfect—that we can be human and make mistakes and still be loved.  It also gives us an opportunity to grow in our love, to say, “Well, I didn’t handle that well, but I can do better the next time,” and to take the time to contemplate a more effective or caring response to the problem that arose.

Love comes From Within Not From Without

I’ve met many people who do not love themselves, and in order to prove to themselves that they are loving, they exhaust themselves doing good deeds for others.  However, when we act in this manner, we aren’t acting from love; we are acting from a wounded ego.  When we do for others out of love, we do not feel we have to ignore our own needs, and we balance our time between taking care of ourselves and caring for others.

With the exception of abuse, we may grow by learning to accept aspects of our partners and friends that don’t always please us.  Of course, there are always limits to what is healthy and appropriate in a relationship, but if there truly is enough there to make the relationship good, we need to exercise the effort to accept and hopefully understand those things about our partner that irritate us and have compassion for their struggle.

Wholeness Includes Loving All Of Who We Are

In talking with friends who have been married many years, I am always impressed with how they have grown together, adjusting and changing as needed to make the relationship more workable for both.  But it is clear that the one thing that holds them together is this—they know they are each loved for who they truly are, for their best qualities and their most irritating ones.

Learning to give to others what we want in return tends to draw to us that same energy.  One of the most profound thoughts I’ve read in Oneness by Rasha is this:  “The key to the self-mastery that is so fervently sought by you who are so keenly aware of your process of evolution, is not to love yourself despite your perceived shortcomings—but rather, to love yourself because of them.  In your embracing of all that you Are…is the unconditional gift of wholeness that awaits you.”  (p. 238)

These challenges we face in relationships reveal to us aspects of ourselves we may rather not see; yet they offer us opportunities for growth and challenges in loving ourselves and others.  Let us learn to love all of who we are and share that understanding and love with others.  Only love will heal the world.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                      ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  How To Love Yourself, Wayne Dyer – Looking For Love, Self-Love: A Definition

AWAKENING TO KINDNESS

“This is my simple religion.  There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy.  Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  Dalai Lama

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dala...

Tenzin Gyatso, the fourteenth and current Dalai Lama, is the leader of the exiled Tibetan government in India. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Do you consider yourself a kind person?  Are you surrounded by kind people?  What has created your ideas about what kindness is?

Qualities of Kind People

I am always deeply touched by kind people, and there are several things that I notice about them.  They are people who are at peace with themselves.  They look for what is positive in others and in situations.  They are empathetic and compassionate.

These are the kind of people I want in my life, the people I can trust who, when there is conflict, will talk respectfully about our differences and work things out.  I can look back on my life and see the many times when I tolerated behavior in relationships and friendships that was less than respectful of who I was and my needs.  Now I find that I am less willing to ignore such disrespect and that more of the people I draw into my life are kind.

What has changed and why is kindness so important to me now?  Peace, love, and joy are now my priorities.

Kindness Is Based On Loving Ourselves

I recently read an article “The Magic of Unconditional Love:  An Interview with Don Miguel Ruiz” by Diane Marie Bishop in Science of Mind Magazine.  In the article, Ruiz talks about how we cannot love others unconditionally unless we unconditionally love ourselves.  Over the years, my ability to love myself has grown.  I have let go of my need to be perfect or to fit someone else’s standard.  This acceptance has given me more peace, and I have learned to be kinder to myself and others.

It is all connected.  When we love ourselves, peace and joy automatically become part of our lives and the expression of kindness becomes a natural thing.  We are less reactive and more aware of how our words and actions affect others.  We are also more flexible and able to adapt to the needs of others when it is appropriate.  But we also are at peace with who we are and can say “no” when we must and do it in a way that is kind.

Negative Thinking Blocks Kindness

It was a challenging week last week with many every day difficulties arising.  It was a week of important teachings, a reminder that, instead of getting caught up in another’s negativity, I need to tap into my inner peace and stay there.  I wasn’t always able to do that, but I will continue to pursue that path.  Experiencing peace and love is my priority and what I want to share with others.

When we love ourselves, we are more likely to see life as positive.  When we are feeling positive, we are more likely to respond to life in a positive manner and act kindly.  But seeing the same situation from a negative point of view may completely change how we experience an event.  Negative thinking can be a powerful block that supports our egos’ worst choices and keeps us from acting kindly from the heart.

Recently, I offered to loan a friend a library book I’d finished so she could also read it before it was due.  With a long waiting list, it was hard to get.  She emailed me to leave it in her mailbox, but I wasn’t comfortable with that due to the torrential rains we were having, and it belonged to the library so I didn’t want to risk its getting damaged.  Since we lived close to each other, I asked her to give me a call when she was home, and I would bring it to her or she could pick it up.  She thought my concern was foolish, and she became angry that I wouldn’t do this the way she wanted, rejected my offer, and refused to return my phone call so we could work it out.

I was rather shocked by the whole situation.  Her response to the situation seemed harsh and out of proportion to the reality although, in the past, she had been disturbed about situations she viewed as negative when I didn’t see them that way.  Still, what created this problem?  Had I been unkind without realizing it?  Was she stressed about something or angry at me for another reason?  I didn’t know.  By focusing on the negative rather than the positive aspect of the situation and refusing to communicate, my friend created a problem that didn’t need to exist and eroded the trust I felt for her.

Kindness

Kindness (Photo credit: -RejiK)

Positive Thinking Supports Kindness

An experience with a sales person last week when I had a problem with a new cell phone also illustrated the consequences of positive and negative approaches to situations.  This man made it clear that he only had time for people who were there to buy something although I had been required to trade out my phone for a new one due to network changes.

Because of his lack of customer service, I decided not to do business there again.  Instead I went to another store where a kind young man showed concern for my problems and took the time to show me how to use the new phone.  Perhaps he was just a kind person or perhaps he understood making a customer happy might mean more sales in the long run.  Either way he took the higher road.

Kindness May Be Expressed With Empathy and Compassion

Two other ways we can express kindness are through empathy and compassion.  They are beautiful expressions of our love and peace.  With empathy we are able to put ourselves in the other person’s place and feel what he is feeling.  We may make this connection because we’ve experience a similar situation or because we use our imagination to envision what he is feeling.  Compassion takes us one step further emotionally to a place where we want to help.

To share our feelings of concern through either of these expressions is an act of kindness.  We care if another person is in pain or difficulty and want life to be better for him/her.  I have another friend who frequently expresses these qualities.  The trust I feel toward him because of this is huge.  Whether he thinks my feelings are foolish or not is irrelevant.  What he offers me is concern and empathy first.  If we argue, it becomes a respectful conversation that allows us to understand each other and helps our relationship grow deeper.  As a result, I feel loved and at peace with him.   I can always trust that he cares about what is best for me.

Allowing kindness to become an important part of our lives can truly change them for the better, for kindness is part of the holy within us.  It’s just another aspect of treating others as we wish to be treated.  Perhaps it is also another way of changing our own little worlds and contributing positively to the larger one.

What kindness have you expressed or experienced lately?

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                                   ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Appropriate Compassion, Soul to Soul with Don Miguel Ruiz (video interview with Oprah), Are You Empathetic – 3 Types of Empathy and What they Mean, How to Fix the Broken Record in Your Head

AWAKENING TO OUR RESPONSIBILITY

“Find the courage to ask questions and to express what you really want.  Communicate with others as clearly as you can to avoid misunderstandings, sadness, and drama.”  Miquel Ruiz

Cover of "The Four Agreements: A Practica...

Are you a responsible person?  How do you define responsibility?  Do you communicate compassionately and take responsibility for what you express?

Responsibility Comes From Within

The theme of responsibility seems to be surfacing in my life this week.  We often think of responsibility in terms of the exterior life: supporting ourselves financially, not telling lies, or doing what we say we will do.  That’s all very important because what we do externally is a sign of who we are at a deeper level.

I attend a couple of discussion groups and the topic for the one I attended recently was the second of Don Miquel Ruiz’s The Four Agreements: A Practical Guide to Personal Freedom.  This book is a wonderful guide to living our lives and I highly recommend it.  The second agreement is “Don’t take anything personally.”  Needless to say, this aroused a lively discussion.

The Emotional Source of Our Conflicts

It also reminded me of so many experiences in my life when, at the time an event was occurring, I could not see how I was part of creating a conflict.  For example, a friend and I, who are members of group, had a very unpleasant disagreement over whether a particular meeting with a guest speaker would take place at his house or mine.  The event had been scheduled weeks in advance for my house.

Then my friend informed me that he was changing the location to his house because he had invited the speaker and felt his place would work better.  I was upset because I love having this group in my home and I knew it would be months before I could host the meeting again.  I explained this to him, but he remained firm in his decision and I felt he was saying my house was inadequate for this event.  I’ve hosted many of these events and I was rather offended by his attitude.  Finally he said, “This isn’t personal.”

Communication

Communication (Photo credit: P Shanks)

When It Really Isn’t Personal

Well, it sure felt personal to me!  I was looking forward to that warm, fuzzy feeling I get when people I like are in my house, and I didn’t want to put off this opportunity until spring when I would have time to host again.  On the other hand, my friend is a very conscientious person who also likes to have things set up a certain way.  He was the one who invited the guest speaker and he wanted to be able to control the environment in which she did her demonstration and talk.  So, his decision really wasn’t about me.  It was about his needs.

He and I are good friends and we talked about our feelings later and found peace about the issue.  It was a learning experience for us both.  But these situations often arise in life, and I’ve come to realize that when someone does something that hurts me, it’s an opportunity for me to look at why I’m upset.  Is this person being unkind or am I reading something into their words or actions because they have touched on my deep wounds?  Either way, I have a choice about my response.

Acting Out Of Love Is Acting Impeccably

By nature, we are all spiritual beings and capable of being loving.  However, if we have been abused or unloved, we may not know how to be loving.  Because I know this, when someone is mean or unkind to me, I know that it is about them, and I have a choice.  I can walk away or I can try to discuss what has caused this response to understand if I have been insensitive in some way.  Of course, my response will be different depending on whether this negative response is a one-time thing or on-going attitude.

Communicate With Compassion

If we accept Ruiz’s statement to not take anything personally as a guide for our behavior, we can most effectively use it to monitor our own communication with others.  His first agreement is to speak and act impeccably, to be concerned about the effects of our words and actions on others.  These first two agreements work well together.  I think he is telling us to be responsible, think before we act, and care about the consequences of our actions, but to be aware that other’s actions are more about their feelings and ideas than ours.   When we do this, I think we usually make better choices because we become aware of the whole communication circle. We can show them compassion, but we don’t have to become entangled with the drama.

This week I also attended a group that is practicing compassionate communication.  We did an exercise where we listened to one person’s story and tried to hear the facts, feelings, needs, and values expressed in it, then we reflected back to the person what we heard.  It seems to me that this practice fits beautifully with what Ruiz is suggesting.  If we learn to listen and speak with compassion, we are acting impeccably and we are also honoring the third agreement—don’t make assumptions.  We listen to what the other person is truly saying, and we try to become more conscious of how our own inner story may distort our perception of another’s story.

What Do You Put Into the Energy Around You?

Regardless of our spiritual beliefs, we are responsible for what we put out into the world, and if we accept the Law of Attraction as part of our belief systems, as I do, we know the energy of our words and actions affects the energy of those around us.  How we approach a touchy subject with another can make a huge difference.  If we connect with empathy and love, we can often create an understanding out of chaos.  When we learn not to take everything personally, it doesn’t mean we don’t care.

How do you handle difficult communication?  How does your attitude make a difference?    Please Comment.

© 2013 Georganne Spruce                                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Responsible Communication,  Living the Four Agreements: A Life changing Journey,  Law of Attraction, Receiving Love