There are so many personal and professional reasons why compassion is in my mind recently! We are reminded by the holiday tokens that we need to mend our broken relationships, especially this time of the year. I keep bumping into clients whose relationships need to be understood and worked through. I personally seem to attract the topic of compassion like a magnet nowadays! Well, I am aware that I have a lot of work to do on this front myself, so I am sharing with you some of my thoughts. I am writing as a coach as much as an ordinary woman who is hurting here working through my own life with forgiveness and compassion.
Every spiritual tradition has the concept of compassion. My corporate job at the European Union at the time when I was searching for a deeper, spiritual path provided me with a rather cold, distant understanding of it. I just knew it in my heart that there was more to it than “forgive, forget and move on”- as I have always been taught. While it is a valid and noble practice, compassion, for me, is a warmer, more satisfying place.
We all learn about forgiveness as a child. We all learn how to overlook the faults of our friends and family members and with maturity we think we become masterfully compassionate. This is all wonderful, until someone enters our life, hurts us deeply and we are standing there looking like a rabbit caught in the headlights. We feel undignified, deeply disturbed and lost. Some people go for revenge; others suffer in silence and cut ties with the person who hurt them. Some others are so good at forgiving and moving on that I admire them for it! I, for one, am trying to see the learning in the situation and what my role is in it. I am determined to move away from blaming others and take responsibility for myself.
By its very definition and etymology compassion means “co-suffering” . When we can feel the suffering of others, we truly exercise compassion. We do it through practising forgiveness and I am re-learning that the two are connected and interrelated. You cannot forgive unless you are compassionate and equally you cannot practice compassion unless you forgive.
Forgiveness is the ability to overlook your hurt and put it aside so you can focus on getting back on your feet. Compassion is the ability to love the person who hurt you and release him/her with the divine love. In both cases you say good bye to the person on many levels but when you do it with compassion, you are tapping into a vast, beautiful resource- the divine wisdom, where all solutions lie. This is the place of universal love, where are able to accept openness, possibilities and stop judging.
But why is it so important in our personal life?
Your emotional state and energy is very different when you practice forgiveness and compassion. Compassion brings a sense of warmth, a sustainable, passionate energy for the life you are trying to create for your future with or without the person who hurt you, while forgiveness provides an immediate relief that may (or may not) be self-sustaining.
Forgiveness opens the mind and the chest but compassion opens the heart.
Both forgiveness and compassion does, essentially, the same thing: enable us to operate without judgement of other human beings, situations or relationships.
When you forgive you free the relationship from the suffering, when you do it with compassion you free yourself! When you are compassionate, your heart is at peace. When you forgive, your heart still needs attention not to be at war at any point.
So where in your life are you going to practice compassion this week? What and who are you going to forgive?