When a child is upset, we try to comfort her. When a stranger drops his groceries, we help him pick them up. We bring over a meal for a sick neighbor. For most of us, helping others is just something that comes naturally. It is simply how we respond to events that occur in day-to-day Life. Helping others is a part of the human experience and one of the things that makes human beings human.
Part of being a responsible person and fulfilling our various roles in life involves caring for others and using helping skills. Parents cannot meet their children’s needs if they do not listen to them. A husband needs to be sensitive to the nonverbal cues of his wife. A teacher must know where and how to refer pupils who need additional help or tutoring. A supervisor cannot maintain the respect necessary to supervise others if he/she does not have their trust and confidence. Most of us have acquired many of the skills needed to help others; however, there are times when almost everyone feels unsure of their ability to help. There are very few people who feel that they are always as effective as they would like to be in their relationships with others.
My wife and I thought we understood compassion. Having spent fifteen years of our life training to be a stand up loving couple to every one else, I knew how to define it, describe it, and think about it. I thought I got it.
A few years ago, May and I were hit with a serious reality. Being the spiritual head of my family, I took a long break to assess the qualities that were going to have to exist if we were going to make a comeback. The main quality I had never had to use was being able to receive help from anyone. I didn’t have a clue about receiving compassion as an adult with a wife from another married couple and their family.
We had several challenging hurdles associated with our needs. We were on house arrest, and the police had to be allowed to enter the home to search any room and anything. We were homeless and without a means to support ourselves in any fashion. We had no car and no jobs.
This experience taught me that compassion is more than being nice to someone for a few minutes or hours.
True compassion is hard work, but it’s worthwhile. As Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “It is one of the most beautiful compensations of life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.”
In trying to help him, I too was changed for the better.
Among the many things I tried as part of the process, some worked. Here are the top six that have stood the test of time.
Often while listening to someone, we are formulating replies in our mind, waiting for a lull in the conversation so we can interject. Try instead to just listen. Suspend all judgment and give the person your undivided attention.
There is powerful healing in sharing your darkest secrets and having another person truly hear it and still love you.
Respond to the emotion, not the actual words.
Angry words may conceal fear; guilt may hide behind blame. Whenever I tried to refute my brother’s literal words, he became more insistent. When I tried to understand and respond to the underlying emotion, he began to trust and open up.
Get your own support system.
I’m a firm believer that we can only give unconditional love when we can receive it too. Make sure to get out, do things with people you love, and continue to experience life. Replenish your soul.
Remember the whole person.
When someone is spiraling into a negative path, you could lose sight of all their positive qualities. Make it a point to remind yourself, at that moment, of a particular strength she/he has. May be it’s his loyalty, or humor, or patience. See the whole person.
Put yourself in that situation mentally.
Suffering is universal. Almost all of us have felt joy and pain. The particular details may be unique, but the themes are universal. So, remind yourself of a time when you went through something related.
Meditate on this and remind yourself of every single emotion and worry you had, and how much you longed for empathy and compassion from a fellow traveler. Do this often, so that it becomes second nature.
I once read a true story reported in a Reader’s Digest column. A father and his three children got on a bus in central London. The father was lost in his own thoughts, and the kids, being unsupervised, were loud and disruptive to the other passengers.
Finally, a lady in a nearby seat leaned over to the father and said, “You really need to parent your children better. They are so unruly.” The father, shaken from his reverie, says, “I’m so sorry. Their mother, my wife, just died and we are returning from her funeral. I think we are all a little overwhelmed. I apologize.”
We are often unaware of the pain another person carries inside. So when someone does something that rubs you the wrong way, take a moment and think of this story.
You will fail sometimes, so forgive yourself.
Have compassion for yourself too. No one is perfect. Give yourself a break if you come up short sometimes. Remember you are just as human as anyone else. As long as your intentions and efforts are in the right direction most times, it will work out in the end.
Because of this experience, my compassion now flows more from the heart and not just from the mind. I feel the difference, and I hope my patients can too.
What’s the role compassion has played in your life? Please share so we may learn from each other. Should you feel compassion for our cause feel free to click the link below to see why we have compassion for the targeted species of disenfranchised human beings we are advocating to assist.
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged #Crowd-funding, #Steve harvey Crying, changed lives, compassion, courage, Culture, deliverance, disenfranchisement, experience, helping hands, human beings, humility, Motivation, Philanthropy, Restoration.