Posts tagged ‘compassion’

May 28, 2012

Other People’s Stories – 2

Welcome to the continuing saga of “Other People’s Stories”.

Since our last episode, I have had a few interesting conversations about this issue. I was informed that there was more to tell with regards to responding to complaints as well as co-dependency. I also realize that I did not cover other people’s expectations or the danger of continually comparing your life performance to the lives of others around you.

Problem Solving versus a Complaint Driven Life

Complaints are all around us. Every day we hear people complain about the weather or about some political issue. One main tactic to addressing life complaints is to consider if the complaint was just stated to “let off steam” or if the complaint was an indirect (or even direct) request for problem solving. Most of the time, it is easy to determine if someone is complaining to “let off steam” since this complaint focuses on their feelings and contains statements such as “well, whatcha going do?” If you have the feeling that the complaint is a request for problem solving, it would be valuable to run it through a few questions:

–       Is this something I have the influence to change?

–       Is this something that is important to me?

–       Is it my job or responsibility to change?

In my work, it is my professional responsibility to sift through other people’s complaints on a regular basis. When I am interacting with a staff member who is talking about a work issue that is negatively impacting their ability to perform his or her job, it is my professional responsibility to act on it. However, if someone is talking about an issue that I have no influence to change, I will listen compassionately and do my best to encourage the other person to consider their emotional response to that situation.

Co Dependent Directors

There are many co-dependents that do not see themselves as either “co-dependent” or as someone prioritizing someone else’s issues. Co-dependents can identify themselves, as caring are responsible people. One possible red flag for co-dependency is becoming a “director” of another person’s life. This is the tendency of setting situations up so that other people act or feel a certain way or expecting others to act or feel a certain way. If you constantly find yourself feeling a great feeling of dis-ease when someone is not feeling/acting the way you want, you may just be a co-dependent.

Other People’s Expectations

Remember, you are in control of your own character and your own life’s path. Own this responsibility! If we do not firmly take responsibility of our own thoughts, feelings, beliefs, habits or actions, we are prone to undue influence of other people’s expectations. The expectations that I am referring to are not the common social expectations that we are all subject to. I am talking about the expectations of others that lead us into action that we may not want. For example, if you know deeply that you are intrinsically an artist, but your father always though of you as a great candidate for medical school, you will most likely be fulfilled if you followed your true passion instead of donning the role of “doctor” to meet your dad’s expectations.

Healthy Comparison

There is an element of comparing yourselves to others that can serve a purpose. Most of the time the tendency of comparing ourselves to others in our peer group offers us a form of social feedback. However, once we establish a pattern of habitually comparing ourselves to others, we can lose our internal locus of control and begin to define ourselves by others’ around us. We are NOT the other people around us! We are our unique personality. If Johnny is better at basketball, that’s good for Johnny. We should not view ourselves as inferior if our performance at basketball is not as good as Johnny. If we are looking at our own performance, it is best if we measure our current performance versus our past performance. Otherwise, we are in danger of losing important aspects of our own identity.

It is wonderful to have other people in our lives. Other people can have a positive influence. It is beneficial to remember to remain in charge of our own identity and to be the best that we can be.

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May 11, 2012

Choose Well!

Today, I experienced a situation that was a prime example of how choosing your response to a given situation can effect how you feel about a given situation.

This morning, I went surfing with a friend of mine at La Jolla Shores. This surfing spot is characteristically crowded and frequently has surfers of a wide range of abilities. In general, if you get up set if there is someone “in the way” every time you paddle for a wave, you will most likely have a very frustrating surf session. If you surf within your ability and are aware of where everyone is in the lineup, you will more likely enjoy yourself.

For those unfamiliar with surfing, each wave has a “peak” where the wave starts to break. A surfer can choose to surf on the right, or on the left of the peak. On one of the waves that I was planning on paddling into, I clearly pointed right indicating that I was going right and I angled my board to the right so it was clear where I was going. As I stood up on the wave, a surfer who was to my right angrily shouted, “where are you going”? At this point I could choose to respond to this person by explaining to them that I had clearly communicated my intention and that it was all surfer’s responsibility to look both ways down a wave before taking off. The option that I choose was to let it go and keep surfing. Later in my surf sessions, a surfer with less experience got in my way on the inside of the wave causing me to cut out early. This surfer apologized for getting in the way. At this point, I could have chosen to angrily shout, “What are you doing?” Instead I choose to say, “no worries, it is all good” and we chatted for a while about the characteristics of the surf spot.

At the end of the session I felt great. I caught waves consistently. The water was warm and the surf was fairly consistent. By remembering to respond to others with forgiveness and understanding, I was able to remain in a calm, positive emotional space. However, there is an alternative reality of what could have happened. If I had initially chosen to respond to the angry surfer with anger, we would have had an angry exchange in the lineup. We would have both likely “bummed out” the surfers around us and the entire experience would have been defined by that anger. I would currently be writing a story about how inconsiderate other people can by and I would likely frame my role as either the “victim” or “hero”.

Choosing our reactions to situation can be one of the most important things that we control. How we choose to respond can significantly influence the others around us.

Choose well!

Photo Credit: http://www.everyspot.com

April 8, 2012

Respect Versus Judgment

In this time of multiple religious celebrations, I feel that it is best to foster respect over judgment. Religious affiliation can be a significant portion of our own identity, or to the identities of those with interact with. When we discover that we are speaking or interacting with someone that has differing beliefs, it is best to lead with respect. Every human being is deserving of respect. It does not serve own interests to judge another person as being “less than ourselves” if that person holds a belief that is at odds with the beliefs that we hold dear and true. Regardless of religious association, there are many ideals that can be considered “universal truths” or ideas that are almost universally appealing. These ideas include:

  • Gratitude
  • Forgiveness
  • Faith
  • Love
  • Courage
  • Compassion
  • Appreciation
  • Trust
  • Truth
  • Honor
  • Respect

I am sure that there are likely many more that we could all agree are common values.

So if you choose to celebrate Easter, Passover, or you celebrate other religious traditions or if you do not celebrate any religious traditions, I want to extend my respect to you as a part of the human family.

Much love to you all!

March 31, 2012

A Dose of Inspiration

Hello all,
Tomorrow I am starting my own personal habit change challenge where I will: 1) List Daily Gratitudes 2) Journal Personal Successes 3) Find time to Meditate 4) Exercise! I huge “Thank You” for those who have agreed to join this challenge; Lynie L Vinyard Currie Rose , Sue,  and Lem .

To my personal challenge list, I am adding “read personal affirmations”. Daily affirmations are a great tool to work on one’s unconscious beliefs. “Affirmation Year”  already has a challenge for focusing on affirmations for the year.

Today, I am reblogging this inspirational story about Terry Fox! I hope this story motivates you to move forward towards any perceived obstacle!

Compassion Through Thoughts!

“Hope is the physician of each misery”.       Irish Proverb

The world faces pain each day.Some give in, but there are some who bear it, for others.Terry Fox is one such man of hope, whose hope blooms everyday, in the hearts of thousands, helping them stand and fight, never give up – not untill they achieve greatness, not till they soar high above, and till they achieve solitude and escape from pain!I feel so proud to share his story of ever-living hope, because for me the name “Terry Fox” means “DREAM” and “HOPE”.

“Toughness is in the soul and spirit, not in muscles”.     Alex Karras

“Disease is somatic; the suffering from it, psychic”.        Martin H. Fischer

Terry Fox was born on 28th july 1958 in Canada.He lost a leg to osteosarcoma when he was 18.He woke up one day with a dull pain…

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March 3, 2012

I Intend to Feel Good!

Image On of the books that I keep going back to has been Dr. Wayne Dyer’s “Power of Intention”. I feel that the overall message of the book is very helpful in framing the benefit of a positive mindset. If you are more of a pragmatist, this book may read as too metaphysical, it which case I would suggest reading “Learned Optimism” by Martin Seligman.

If I could sum up the book in one sentence, it would be “I intend to feel good.” Our thoughts are directly related to what we wish to create. Dr. Dyer explains that we are either moving towards source/ creation, or away from source / creation. In other words, we can choose to move towards love or choose to move away from love. We can choose to look at the world optimistically, or pessimistically. We can choose to appreciate the value of everything in our lives through the habits of gratitude, forgiveness and compassion or we can choose to de-valuate our world through the habits of blame, judgement and resentment.

I do not have control over the world around me. I do have control on how I choose to feel.

I intend to feel good!

February 29, 2012

Compassion

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.

– Dali Lama

Compassion is not religious business, it is human business, it is not luxury, it is essential for our own peace and mental stability, it is essential for human survival.

– Dali Lama

The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.” – Thomas Merton

Dictionary.com defines compassion as “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.” I definitely agree that compassion incorporated the strong feeling to alleviate the suffering of others. However, I feel that compassion is much deeper than a “feeling of deep sympathy or sorrow”. Compassion is deeper that “pity” or sympathy alone. When we show compassion to another, we understand the other’s feelings as a part of the human condition. Compassion arises out of the awareness that all people have the possibility to experience the same range of human experience all human experiences and human emotions. Compassion allows understanding of another person’s perspective since we can imagine ourselves reacting to the situation in a similar manner. Compassion is the desire to relieve another’s suffering. We can demonstrate compassion when another person is experiencing great anger, frustration, as well as sadness and loss.

When you demonstrating compassion, you perceive yourself as an equal to the one you are demonstrating compassion for. For example, if we feel compassion for someone who is homeless and down on their luck, we understand that we too could be homeless and it a similar situation. When friends or family make poor decisions (such as engaging in addictive patterns), compassion allows us to see that we have the same possibility to make similar decisions. When we interact with other people compassionately, others are able to feel supported in a non-judgmental fashion. Others can feel our intention to alleviate their suffering.

Compassion can be seen as the emotional equivalent of “the Golden Rule”. As Karen Armstrong from charterforcompassion.org has stated “Always treat others as you’d like to be treated yourself … Don’t do to others what you would not like them to do to you”. Compassion can be viewed as reacting to all others as if they are your self.

What are the benefits of compassion?

First, there are emerging studies that show that compassionate behavior and compassionate meditation are good for our health. In a study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology, it was demonstrated that “individuals who engage in compassion meditation may benefit by reductions in inflammatory and behavioral responses to stress that have been linked to depression and a number of medical illnesses”(link) In another study of 59 women, it was found that those who demonstrated high levels of compassion for others were more receptive to social support, enabling them to better handle acute psychological stress and maintain overall well-being, according to psychologists at the University of Maine, University of California – Berkeley and University of California – San Francisco (link).

Second, compassion can help us influence the interactions that we have with others. When we choose a compassionate response when another person gets upset, we are more likely going to have a neutral or understanding response. By responding in this manner, we are more likely to be able to diffuse a potential conflict. Additionally, when we react to others compassionately, we are more likely to build rapport with that person.

Finally, the more compassionate we are, the more compassion we bring into the world. As Ghandi is often quoted “be the change you want to see in the world.” By being more compassionate, we model how to be compassionate and those who are within our zone of influence are more likely to respond compassionately to us.

The next time someone gets angry with you, resist the temptation to engage in a defensive response. Consider what circumstances brought the other person to get angry. Imagine how you would feel in a similar situation. Then focus on the intention of elevating the other person’s suffering. Your compassionate response is not only good for your own health, but it has the opportunity to strengthen your interpersonal relationships and help facilitate a more compassionate world.

Please share your comments on this topic! I am grateful for any insight you may have.