SEEKING COMPASSION

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The word compassion is staring back at me, it’s searching me and I’m crumbling. I’ve known this day would arrive and I would have to pen something profound or deep but I can’t find anything even remotely meaningful inside my head.

So I asked my heart instead…

And my heart felt anger.

Anger at the mere mention of compassion as if to say to me, “Now you want to know how I feel?”

My heart has always understood compassion but my mind merely understands how to spell it.

I’ve discovered an invisible scale, a balance, inside my mind where apparently I subconsciously keep track of things. While my heart often begins with compassion my mind will take over and turn it into something selfish. Yes I love you, yes I will help you or listen to you, but my mind has some strict limits on how much it will allow my heart to give before my mind convinces me I should feel used and hurt.

I think everyone has a scale like this. Our minds and our hearts work in unison to make sure we are compassionate souls making a difference in other people’s lives. Our hearts are good at differentiating another person’s need while our intellect works out how much and what kind of help to give.

My heart is angry at me because my mind is – for lack of a better word – ignorant. In order to have compassion you have to sympathize with another human being (or a cause) and you must respond in some tangible way. My mind doesn’t like that idea.  My mind doesn’t realize that compassion isn’t about how much you give or what you might get in return because my mind simply doesn’t understand love and so it can’t understand compassion.  My mind is a bully and my heart is tired of taking a beating.

Most relationships are based on a series of gives and takes. The give and take can occur in a single transaction or over a period of time. I find I am most compassionate and most merciful when I know the transactions are short ones. The longer the period of time the more my mind gets involved. And my mind cares more about two way streets than my heart does.

So…can someone like me, with such a large heart and mind disconnect, learn to be more intellectually compassionate?

Some say if you are a good person it just comes naturally. If you are selfless and kind and truly care about other people then you are a very compassionate person. If this is true then I am NOT a compassionate person.

I was in line at McDonalds when I noticed the woman in the line next to me was crying. I had just ordered and was slightly in front of her to the side when I noticed her wiping her eyes and clearing her throat to order. I paid for her meal because there was nothing I could do. My heart told me just knowing I was acknowledging her pain would be enough.

I empathized with her tears as she sat alone in her car.  I empathized, had sympathy, and I took action the only way I knew how.  I wanted to say, “I saw you and I feel for you”. My mind would have told me to tend to my own business. My mind would have tried to measure whether or not they deserved it. My mind would try to talk my heart out of caring. But compassion is about good and nothing else and because my heart acted and not my mind I felt joy in the hope I could help her feel less alone.  In a grand sense this is why I blog so openly.

I watched my friend Lizzi’s compassion vlog yesterday and it dawned on me that it takes a village to foster compassion. I told Lizzi I felt like I was always burning my villages to the ground. My mind convinces my heart that I don’t matter and that the things I have done and the time I have taken for others don’t matter. My mind tries to squeeze the compassion right out of my heart.

Sometimes it really does take a village of compassionate and merciful friends to give a heart enough strength to fight an irrational and selfish mind. I recently had someone tell me they thought I was full of light only to find out I was a “mean girl”. I didn’t argue because it is true. I am both.

“I have a heart and a mind, capable of both compassion and apathy, and whatever the feelings I have or the choices I make, I am a mixture.”~Lizzi Rogers

We all are.

There are moments when my heart wins and I am able to make a difference, and bring joy.

There are moments when my mind wins and I act selfishly and exhibit destructive behavior, whereas I need patience.

Compassion begets compassion, and I know I need it as much as anyone.

We all do.

70 thoughts on “SEEKING COMPASSION

  1. oh, I really get what you are getting at here.

    At what point does compassion, become self destruction? Love starts at home, really close home, you. Compassion is to love your neigbour right? But not just to love your neighbour but to love him/her as you love yourself. The big word here being yourself.

    I have the same struggle as you. I see people in need of compassion all the time. Do you think I will go up to that person and speek to them? It has nothing to do with me right. Also, there is fear, if you have been used, your kindness splashed pulled from you and you simply being hurt, there is a trust issue.

    I was standing in the bank the other day. A lady was arguing with the teller, because she thought she had given him a N$10 which was written on the deposit slip, but which she perhaps misplaced. As per bank policy he was not going to accept this. “what do I do now? I don’t have N$10” she was saying. I saw her stress. I understand. She was likely to get in trouble for this with her employer. And even if you short a N$10 which is about equivalent to US$1 you are short with this amount and no bank teller will close an eye, because then they have to pay that from their own money or get into trouble. And if they did that for everyone… you understand. We are all struggling here.

    I reached into my handbag and gave her a N$10 to give to the teller so that her deposit was made up of the right amount. I saw her stress levels coming down a bit. This one I could help, since i happend to have that amount on me at the time. But how many times don’t I have it. Or I think I give you my last N$10 and I won’t be able to buy bread for my house.

    You see there is some real poverty here. You can’t help everyone who crosses your path. If you hit rough times here, it is you and the street. How many times have I felt guilty for not letting someone stay with me, because this would have caused too much stress in my life. MY LIFE. Selfish hey? yes, I am selfish. My mind tells my heart to quit caring, cause you can’t feed the masses. And once you let someone into your home they never leave, they will forever misuse you.

    You see, I was hit with some hard times at a young age, when most enjoy carefree years of fun and parties. I helped until it crushed me. And now I don’t even want to talk to people any more. I don’t want friends. why because if they needed help, would I really help them? I am horrible. My heart feels horribly guilty and worthless. My mind … it is a never ending fight.

    But I try in small ways to show compassion. As you say if it is not a long term investment. For long term you need to love yoursef the same as the other person. You can then seek out a solution that would be the best for you both. We all need love. We need to be loved and some of us need to love others. But you need to let that happen and so do I. (hugs)

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    • I am always surprised to see just how much we (community) have in common. Just how much we think alike and yet if we all knew we shared the same fears and troubles how would that change how we reacted in the world around us.

      Awesome comment! Thank you. xoxo

      Liked by 3 people

    • You are wiser now, dear Serins, and whatever happened to crush the younger you, and destroy her spirit, you would be more able to cope with and establish safe boundaries. With so much hurt in your history, I am awed that you still find ways to help. But no – if you try to give yourself to everyone, you will have nothing left and be used up. You have to keep a corner of you, and give what, and when, you can. Don’t feel bad for the times when you can’t.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Great post….your mind is protecting your heart. As a very compassionate person myself I struggle with the same battle. I have learned over the years that my compassion for others has hurt me in the end and left me broken. We must think of ourselves before giving our all to others and we must choose our battles wisely. What you did for the woman in McDonalds speaks volumes and your mind told you that was enough and I agree with her lol. Thank you for all that you do..

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    • I feel this same way. Struggling at the moment with so many feelings that have more to do with a past I try not to focus on but have bearing on how I deal with today’s events. Thank you so much for a wonderful comment.

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  3. Compassion is a complex word, or it can be, in terms of meaning. It contains the word passion which suggests it is a word which represents deep feeling. It also has compass which indicates it can show direction. When we feel compassion we ‘connect’ with and ‘feel’ with others. I truly believe that the connection will be felt at a soul level even if we are not able to make it manifest in a material or literal way.

    The more capacity one has for compassion, i.e. feeling, then the more likely they are to be hurt. So, in that way of things, the curse in the gift of deep feeling, is a greater capacity for pain. Having said that, the more one can feel compassion, then the more one has to offer.

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  4. Don’t we ALL have “mean girl” moments? Empathy does NOT mean that we have to accept other peoples’ shitty behavior. We don’t have to accept it or absorb it and even acknowledge it. When our friend genuinely HURT, you care. That’s a proven fact. So, that being said, do you think that compassion, empathy, and understanding hold different meanings?

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  5. You always manage to say the things that need to be said honestly and with such great emotion. We are all imperfect. We all have two sides. But we do our best with what we have and on a good day we get it right. You are a good person, Hasty. You have a wide open heart. You are right. We all need compassion and what we have here are villages forming one after the other.
    What you did for the lady at McDonald’s may have seemed like the only thing you could do and a small kindness to you but to her it was probably monumental. Those are the things that count.
    I adore you and your heart and am happy as hell to have you as part of my village.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was sure I would be hitting publish on rubish but it was, this was, all I could manage. I had such grand ideas but none of them would stay on the page.

      Thank you for being part of my village. In fact, as far as villages go I am so very lucky to be a part of a very beautiful and compassionate online community.

      I’m grateful for you!

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Ah Hasty, this was just beautiful. Your writing is exquisite. I often react out of instinct or from my heart, it’s also how I create my art. But sometimes my mind takes over and I think things I don’t want to think. It’s mostly to protect myself, because I’m either afraid of the unknown or I’m afraid of “feeling too much”. When I feel too much I often don’t know what to do, because I can’t always take e.g. someone’s pain away. I’m always trying to find a balance with this, you know? A balance in compassion for others while I’m compassionate to myself as well.

    “I have a heart and a mind, capable of both compassion and apathy, and whatever the feelings I have or the choices I make, I am a mixture.” – So, so true.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You know that last line is Lizzi’s because i was struggling to piece all my thoughts together. I just realized it really should be in quotes. She always has the right words.

      I struggle so much with remembering past pain that I often put my heart in a straight jacket.

      You can see how beautiful your heart is by looking at your art. I am in love with it and I am truly excited to bring a piece of you into my daughter’s life!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. ***My heart told me just knowing I was acknowledging her pain would be enough.***

    It. Is.

    When I was going thru my darkest hour, I remember a woman walked up to me & hugged me tightly (no words whatsoever)
    It was so beautiful.

    and so are you. x

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  8. I appreciated this more than you can understand as someone on the opposite end of the spectrum. I have what I call pathological empathy. My head really needs to engage more often. I’ve come a long way in establishing where I end and others begin but for years my “caring” was unhealthy for me and not always “helping” others. There is a line between help and enabling that I can finally distinguish. It just goes to show that we are all on a path. Together we’ll all get there! I appreciate your courage and honesty.

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  9. Love your raw honesty. Thank you. This really spoke to me: “But compassion is about good and nothing else and because my heart acted and not my mind I felt joy in the hope I could help her feel less alone. In a grand sense this is why I blog so openly.” We are all more together than separate; more the same than different. Blogging with our hearts is what gives others the feelings of shared humanity, which is really what compassion is all about.

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  10. Pingback: 1000speak: Wearing Glasses Tinted With Judgement. - The Whimsy Art of TJ LubranoThe Whimsy Art of TJ Lubrano

  11. I knew you’d have something fabulous here…I should have also known that you’d be speaking my heart and reading my mind, too. I’ve been fascinated with how many of us struggled with this assignment and am welled with pride as I read the authentic words and comments.
    Mine almost didn’t happen…I was too mad at the dude on the airplane with me. But you know what? I thought of Lizzi…and I thought of you…and I thought of Karen…and Dani..and…and…

    I knew, not only did I have to write it. I had to live it.
    Bravo girl! You rock 🙂

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  12. Oh such truth you share, my friend!!! We ALL struggle between the mind and the heart. It’s CONSTANT. Selflessness and selfishness are at war in our fallen state, always. It’s a constant battle to dare to risk over-riding our minds to take action, take notice, take even the smallest step away from our vulnerability and our safe place.

    Our comfort lies in self protection, doesn’t it? However the greatest joy I have ever felt, is in risking it all through self sacrifice.

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  13. Hasty, my friend, you and I are like peas and carrots. I don’t know how I manage it, but I always find myself standing amid the ashes of burnt bridges. Some of that is of my own doing. Some of it isn’t. I have this thing where I like to help others (even if they don’t want my help) and pretty much refuse to let anyone help me. It’s a fucked up dynamic and I wish I knew how to make it go away.

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  14. Sunset, my darling, you are one of the people I can count on to write my heart. You do the same as me (though to a larger degree, I think) of taking on other people’s pains and trying to support them, and end up hurt in the process. You feel, you FEEL for everyone you meet. Anyone can leave a bootprint in your heart, and at some point, we need to find a way to protect ourselves, and it’s that callousness that the mind brings in, which is also to keep us safe. Because otherwise we might give and give and give and have nothing at all left.

    This is self-compassion. It saves us before we crumble. Most of the time.

    Anyway. As to your villages and your burnings. I look GREAT in ashes, and I’m pretty flame-resistant. So don’t worry. I’ve hung onto tornadoes before, and I know that in the end, I will look into your eyes and see summer skies, and all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things will be well.

    Knowing you has taken my ‘hardwired heart’ concept to the next level. I’m here for as long as you’ll keep me.

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  15. First thank you so much for the follow today; second I think the need for self compassion is as important as offering compassion externally – learning the limits of that and accepting it is so important. A blog you may find interesting deals with this as well as perhaps giving you a scientific basis for some of your feelings in the heart-mind dichotomy. See what you think. http://annegoodwin.weebly.com/annecdotal/compassion-something-we-all-need

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  16. As much as we need our hearts to be compassionate we also do need our minds to determine when it is in our own best interest so that we don’t get taken advantage of. I think the balance is a delicate one. Don’t beat yourself up. Be compassionate when and where you can. A little selfishness is not necessarily a bad thing.. hang in there… keep going forward. 🙂

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  17. You have expressed what I am sure all of us feel at some point or another. The battle over mind and heart is one that is common to us all. Often the mind telling us we are wrong or no good. Starting in small ways with tasks easier to accomplish we can teach the mind compassion. Small steps leads to huge outcomes and this joining together today is just one of those steps. A great village coming together to make things better. Thanks for visiting and following.

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  18. Acknowledging someone’s pain is sometimes all we can do…and more often than not, it’s enough. When I’m struggling, I’d rather have someone just sit with me, hold me, or comfort me than try to fix it. Because many times, I’m perfectly capable of fixing it, whatever it may be, and the support is what will help me do that.

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  19. Pingback: More #1000Speak: My Favorite 1000 Voices Speak for Compassion Posts Thus Far | confessions of a broccoli addict

  20. You are certainly not alone in those thoughts and feelings. The mind and the heart battling for position – I think many of us know that struggle well.
    I just love what you did for the lady at McDonald’s. Sometimes words just aren’t necessary and a small simple act can help get someone through.

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  21. Wonderful insight and yes it becomes a question after awhile when is it ok to put yourself first without putting someone else last. When does compassion cease to be a good thing and start to be eat away at your own life. It’s difficult to balance at times but the balance is worth it for a full life.

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