These "musings" are short articles on select topics. This one was last updated December, 2017. If you find it useful, learn about our online, self-paced program - Awareness-based therapy (ABT).
Compassion is hard.
Whether we admit it or not, the majority of us have a tough time applying it on a consistent basis. That doesn't mean we are evil, and it doesn't mean we don't care about (and help) others.
But, it's human nature to judge and label. We also have the "baggage" of preconceived notions we have accumulated since birth. Our minds work hard to make us view everyone and everything through these (and other) filters and constructs.
As a result, we tend to selectively apply compassion. I do it, you do it, we all do it. That's why compassion is hard.
A slight change in perspective can help you apply it more consistently, though.
"If I was in their place, I would do things differently."
This is the biggest trap we fall into when it comes to compassion. Why? Because you are still looking at it from your perspective.
"You" aren't actually in "their" place. You are picturing yourself - as you know you - in their place. The difference between these two things is enormous.
If you were actually in their place, atom for atom, you would no longer be you...you would be the other person. Meaning, you would be subject to everything they've been subject to since birth: their culture, family, friends...their political, religious, and social environment. And, you would be subject to all the other causes and conditions - stretching back in time to before they were born - that have led them to be the person they are right here and now.
You can no longer say "you" would make different decisions, or "you" would take different actions, because there would be no "you" to do anything different. You would be the other person.
Compassion is more easily cultivated when you stop thinking you would have turned out different "if you were in their place." Instead, realize if you had gone through life exactly as the other person has, you would no doubt be in the exact same situation.
Just like everything else, compassion is a skill you develop. Exercise this new perspective over and over to develop that skill. Start right now with a person you find "challenging."
What if we told you the biggest problem in your life is that your mind is the biggest problem in your life, and you don’t realize it?
It is. But, our online, self-paced program can help you stop being a prisoner of thoughts, emotions, and urges.
Find out more about the ABT program here.
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